Monday, May 12, 2008

News Flash: 30-something woman is OK being single!

When I was younger, I used to have nightmares about being imprisoned in a mental hospital – you know, that catch-22 situation where there is simply no way to convince people that you are actually sane because everyone expects crazy people to say that they aren’t crazy. I was reminded of this when I saw a recent article in The Atlantic by Lori Gottlieb in which says:

“…every woman I know—no matter how successful and ambitious, how financially and emotionally secure—feels panic, occasionally coupled with desperation, if she hits 30 and finds herself unmarried… all I can say is, if you say you’re not worried, either you’re in denial or you’re lying.”

So not only does this perpetuate the stereotype that all single women must be desperate to get married, but it conveniently makes it impossible to refute the stereotype because if you even try, you must be lying! I don’t think that Gottlieb sees that her statement that “every woman I know” feels that way is completely self-fulfilling since she apparently doesn’t believe any woman who doesn’t feel that way. On the one hand, stuff like this makes me insanely frustrated because it’s just wrong, not to mention stupid, but for reasons I don’t understand, a lot of people want to believe it and this allows those people to think they are right. On the other hand, I am fortunate enough to mostly be surrounded by people who don’t think this way, let alone spout such nonsense aloud, so hearing stuff like this mostly just makes me feel really sorry for people like Gottlieb. I honestly can’t imagine how sad it must be to believe that the only way to have a fulfilling life with lots of love and support is through marriage. So let me say for the record (and I do hope that somehow, in the crazy world that is the internet, this will find a way back to Ms. Gottlieb): I am 37, single, and pretty much have exactly the life that I want. And whether you believe me or not, I have thought about this long enough and hard enough to be pretty sure I’m not in denial. But in case it seems I doth protest too much, I should say that I’ve also never been interested in having kids so that probably helps, and I don’t try to argue with those who tell me that a relationship with the right person is better than being single (although I’m not sure I know anyone who can really make that comparison objectively). But to any woman out there who is even thinking of taking Ms. Gottlieb’s advice to settle because a mediocre relationship is better than being alone, all I can say is, she’s wrong. Of course, if you already believe she’s right, then she is, since you must already believe being alone has to suck - what I'm telling you is that it doesn't have to. But at the very least, go read some Bella DePaulo, Kay Trimberger, or the many other authors with essays in Single State of the Union before making up your mind…


BigTDog said...

Entertaining blog.

And, an interesting, yet misguided article. Seems Ms. Gottlieb has equated "settling" with purely purely physical traits. She equates marrying a man with halitosis, poor aesthetics, lack of height or a big nose as the benchmarks for "settling."

I too am single and in my thirties, and I too refuse to settle...but I also refuse to let such superficial traits guide my decisions.

What happened to being with someone you just simply adore? Or am I the misguided one for thinking that my less than perfect genetics make me un-adorable and only settle-worthy?

PS: And good for you for being okay being single at 30+. I think you may be in the minority on that one, however.

Jenn said...

You aren't misguided bigtdog - the idea of 'settling' isn't about physical traits, it's about being with anyone you don't 'simply adore'. I could be with Keanu Reeves and I'd be settling (since from what I can tell, he'd bore me to tears, though I'll admit that just looking at him might distract me from my boredom for quite a while). However, I am willing to bet you're wrong about me being in the minority - go read Bella dePaulo's book and then we can debate that...

Anonymous said...

quirkyeconomist - I love your blog. Instant fan.

And, I am a quirkyalone. I never knew there was a name for us!!!