February 15, 2010

Emily Bazelon and Dana Goldstein talk about Lori Gottlieb's "Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough."



I'm embedding this because I can't embed the diavlog that I did last week with Gottlieb herself. "Marry Him" is the book I was talking about back here, where I responded strongly to someone who said that books based on Atlantic magazine articles aren't worth much more than the original article. (Here's the original "Marry Him!" article.) And I said:
I just paid $25+ for a 300+-page book that was an expansion of an article from The Atlantic. I did that for a Bloggingheads diavlog, and — you'll see when it's up — the author scolded me for skimming. Did that open the door for me to scold her for padding? Readers and writers — we all have our tactics and must guard our own interests. You pad. I skim. Or I take a look in the bookstore and put that thing right back on the pile. Unless I'm scheduled for a diavlog. In which case, I tough it out. Up to a point. Then I just scream. On my blog.
But you won't see when it's up, because it will never be up, because Gottlieb's side of the diavlog disappeared somehow. Technical difficulties, I'm told. All that work of skimming 300 pages and talking for 47 minutes.

The book is written in a breezy, chatty style, but I couldn't get a conversation rolling at all. When I asked questions based on what was in the book, she mostly said read the book, it's in the book, etc. etc. I was trying to get past the actual contents of the book and to understand her motivation for writing it. Did she really want to get married? Would she really settle for Mr. Good Enough? If so, why wasn't she married yet? Was she really giving women good advice?

Gottlieb relied heavily on social science surveys about how married people are happier, but married people are the people who got married. You can't say, then: The people who aren't married would be happier if they got married too. They are the people who couldn't find what they felt they wanted or couldn't find real love in their own hearts or inspire it in others or had a greater skepticism about the value of relationships or who put a lot of stock in personal freedom or any number of other things. It was irrational to extrapolate that marriage would make them happy too. Even assuming those surveys about who's happy are sound (or even say married women are happier than single women).

ADDED: Look, some NYT reporter spent an evening with Lori Gottlieb and got just about nothing interesting out of her. Here, you can see me in real time, trying to get Lori Gottlieb to talk about something less trivial than how tall or short people are. This is late in the conversation, and I am struggling to remain decently gracious:



AND: Let me give you 2 more of my clips. In this one, I'm trying to get at Gottlieb's complaint about feminism (and getting nowhere):



In this clip, I invite Gottlieb to talk about divorce.



Could you tell what the other end of the conversation was like? At first, Gottlieb didn't understand what I was saying. She thought I said that she'd already written something called "Divorce Him." (I wonder if "good listener" is one of the factors we should toss out in our search for Mr. Good Enough.) When she got my question, which was whether she would also advise married women to divorce men who had stopped being good enough, she was clear that the answer was yes. She said "You're not dead" very sarcastically. The idea that marriage is a permanent commitment seemed not to be ping-ponging around anywhere in her head. You stay with that man to the extent that he serves your interests.

90 comments:

Almost Ali said...

The barking dog behind this Atlantic article has a lot of nerve. She deserves what James Cagney gave Mae Clarke in "Public Enemy" - a half-grapefruit right in the kisser: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4R5wZs8cxI

c3 said...

but married people are the people who got married.

Yes, retrospective studies using matched controls as their comparison are always fraught with problems. Establishing causality is shakey at best. ("correlation does not equal causality")

OTOH we really can't do a prospective studies (i.e. "Let's take 1,000 couples and marry half of them and keep the other half unmarried and then follow them for ____ years and assess their happiness both by questionnaire and direct observations")

EDH said...

Sounds like Althouse's Totoian tendency to always pull at the curtain annoyed Gottlieb.

Or is it Totoesque?

ricpic said...

The only thing I can think of when this settling talk gets going is -- has it ever occurred to the princesses who settle that Mr. Beta gets the message and is gonna get more and more resentful of the humiliation as time goes by in the marriage?

Ron said...

The squirrels that are at the forefront of Althousian Anti-Defamation League must go to work for Bob Wright and take care of the video for him.

RigelDog said...

Just my opinion but I think that marriage is fantastic and if fewer people are interested in getting married or staying married, it's because our culture isn't producing people with the right attitudes and desirable character traits that make marriage (and life) work better.
I almost missed the marriage boat because I was convinced that being married would mean that the really important opportunites in life would pass me by because I'd be "tied down." In hindsight I see that I ditched a great guy in law school just because I had some vague idea of needing to be "free." After law school the torrent of attractive eligible men slowed to a trickle, and I am damn lucky that eventually another fantastic guy showed up when I was 30.
Huge caveat: This is not to say that any one individual is lacking just because they are uninterested in or unsuitable for marriage, or that life is meaningless if you arent' married. Or that in semi-desperation anyone should grab the first decent prospect who comes down the pike.

Franco said...

Please Ann, this is just whiny, lefty drivel. Why do these women care anyway? Men don't spend their time ruminating about marriage.

The fact is that feminism as a whole created more problems for women in this culture than they care to admit.

former law student said...

My advice to men: never marry anyone who thinks she's "settling" for you.

I'll be blunt: the author seems to fit the stereotype of the Jewish-American Princess -- shallow, selfish, materialistic, and status conscious -- which is still current. From the SUNY Buffalo school paper, where Downstate girls puzzle the western New Yorkers:

At UB, it’s not uncommon to hear JAP jokes—“What does a JAP make for dinner?” “Reservations.”— or to see groups such as “People in Favor of Building a Wall Around Long Island to Separate it From the Rest of the World” and “Shut the Fuck Up Long Island Girls” on Facebook.

When asked about what he thought about JAPs, sophomore business administration major Brock Darrah admitted, “I would definitely not date one—they’re all bitches.” Junior environmental design major Derek Baker agreed, confessing, “I could never date a JAP girl because they drive brand new cars and mine’s a beater. I go to monster truck shows and I’m sad because they’re crushing better cars than I have.”



http://www.subboard.com/generation/articles/113201236459285.asp

rdkraus said...

I heard her interviewed by Dennis Prager and found the conversation surprisingly interesting and sensible. She said that the book is for people who WANT to get married. It was a thoughtful interesting approach. That comment is the opposite of what I expected, which was that I would switch stations one minute in.

A very funny part of the interview was about what women "require" of a man and vice versa. Men had about three items (and being a ten was not one of them) and women had three hundred items.

True? Who knows? The men part was.

Ann Althouse said...

"The fact is that feminism as a whole created more problems for women in this culture than they care to admit."

You might enjoy Gottlieb then, because that's what she says.

Big Mike said...

Nothing in the world could get me to part with $25 for this book after the reviews I've read (not to mention that I'm a happily married male so it scarcely applies to me).

But one thing bothered me. According to the kerfluffle surrounding this book, in it Gottlieb cites a poll that says that men are thrilled to find a wife that satisfies 80% of what they want in a spouse while women view marrying a man who meets 80% of their criteria as "settling." But how can one possibly compare the list made by a typical man versus the list made by a typical woman? What sort of things would be on a man's list, and what would be on a woman's list? I suspect that apples are more like oranges than a woman's list is qualitatively like a man's.

It's not easy to look back 36 years to when my wife and I were dating and I had not yet proposed, but I suspect my list, if you asked, had superficial things like red hair and C cups, along with braininess and a cheerful disposition. I got some of the superficial things (not the red hair), but I got things with my beloved that manifestly weren't on the list. Like deeply enjoying every minute I spend with her. Like learning how to appreciate classical music (so today my taste in music is a curious mixture of Mozart and Toby Keith) and impressionist art. Like learning how to appreciate gourmet cooking.

So, getting back to my question, what sort of things are on a single woman's list? How much is superficial and how much isn't?

Charity said...

Why would anyone read a whole book based on that article?

I think there are some good points buried deep beneath her unhappiness and regret. For one, we should lose the notion of "soul mate" and this idea that one should wait for the perfect person. No one is perfect. But this was just sad:

"Once you’re married, it’s not about whom you want to go on vacation with; it’s about whom you want to run a household with. Marriage isn’t a passion-fest; it’s more like a partnership formed to run a very small, mundane, and often boring nonprofit business."

If my marriage was like that, I think I would shoot myself.

Yeah, I married a guy who is responsible and takes out the trash. He even cleans up after me in the kitchen. But, I also have a great time when we are alone. He would be my first choice to take on a vacation. It doesn't have to be either or.

If people follow her advice, they will surely be filing for divorce as soon as their kids are grown, if not sooner.

countercultureconservative said...

I would never marry a woman who I thought was just "settling" with me. I was once engaged to a woman like that, and I broke off my engagement a couple of years ago, three days after asking her father for her hand in marriage! lol. She was so shocked that it was I who broke it off instead of her! Because after all, I was the one marrying up! lol. I have no doubt that I'm happier single and alone than married to a woman like that. And I've never regretted it. I'd rather die alone under a bridge than live with one of these women. Men are far better equipped emotionally and biologically to live alone than women are. Women are far luckier to snag a husband than we are to snag a wife. I have no doubt about that. The sooner they figure that out, the happier we will all be.

Trooper York said...

Wait a minute former law student.

You where the guy who asked Melissa Rivers out on a date?

MadisonMan said...

Marry the man today, and change his way

Tomorrow.

RigelDog said...

Countercultureconservative says, "Men are far better equipped emotionally and biologically to live alone than women are."
I've observed the opposite. More older bachelors (and by older I mean those who are past the age when their peers are mostly married) seem really lonely and more socially isolated than older single women. Studies--although I take social studies with a big grain of salt--bear this out. Unmarried men score lower on levels of happiness, longevity, good health, etc.

countercultureconservative said...

>>>More older bachelors (and by older I mean those who are past the age when their peers are mostly married) seem really lonely and more socially isolated than older single women.

Yes, I agree. I also think that's because men tend to be loners by nature and don't seek out society the way women do. But that's their CHOICE. Men don't need to be married to join a bowling club or the Rotary. They can turn their loneliness around anytime they want. Marriage isn't a prerequisite.

Synova said...

Having known 30-something always single men who were looking... I don't think that women have the corner on obsessing about marriage. No one wants to be alone and no one wants to be "settled" for.

"Once you’re married, it’s not about whom you want to go on vacation with; it’s about whom you want to run a household with. Marriage isn’t a passion-fest; it’s more like a partnership formed to run a very small, mundane, and often boring nonprofit business."

But it's both, isn't it?

I think that just as many people get in trouble from ending up with the person they simply *can't* live with every day, as anyone who gets in trouble from marrying someone too responsible and reliable.

Or the trouble isn't at all because the person is too responsible and reliable or *faithful*, but it's because you're the bitch who resents instead of appreciates them.

Life really is the mundane stuff.

So you want to find someone responsible and reliable that you admire the character of and who you *like*... who isn't high maintenance, who has a down to earth notion about partnership and working together... who also makes your toes curl.

Because day-to-day life isn't always fun and you're not always going to be "happy" and when you've got toddlers no force on earth can meet your "emotional needs."

Freeman Hunt said...

I was waiting for this Bloggingheads with great interest, and now it will never be up! Damn.

DADvocate said...

My advice to men: never marry anyone who thinks she's "settling" for you.

For once I agree with fls. On the other hand, every married man I know settled for Miss Good Enough, but men are generally more pragmatic.

Freeman Hunt said...

Why aren't there a lot of books about the sociology of marriage aimed at people who generally don't buy books about the sociology of marriage?

Hmmm. I wonder...

rdkraus said...

Couple of interesting things she and Prager talked about.

One was what seemed important to most women dating and looking for a mate vs. what seemed important to women who were already happily married.

Another had to do with how men's fantasies differ from women's. The short version: Men fantasize about ______ insert movie star here _______, but are quite happy to date/marry a normal good-looking woman (and probably still fantasize about the movie star). Women fantasize about Brad Pitt and want their boyfriend/husband to look like Brad Pitt - otherwise they are settling.

I found that pretty accurate for me (male). Obviously can't speak for women.

Freeman Hunt said...

As for settling, I haven't read the book, but I get the impression that when these people talk about "settling," it's not really about settling; it's about being less shallow.

Synova said...

I think that people should get married and "settle" significantly younger than they do, but with significantly fewer stars in their eyes and hogwash about soul mates or "make me happy" or "meet my emotional needs" or any of those other "my" focused requirements that are out there. They should understand better that love is what you do, not what you feel. And that it's about building together, not building first and then finding someone who miraculously fits into your spaces.

Spend some time learning to be someone worth being married *to*.

Freeman Hunt said...

rdkraus, I think women are equally fine with not being married to Brad Pitt lookalikes.

Let's face it, there are always going to be people who have shallow expectations that are very very high. There are going to be men like that (I know some.) and women like that (Again, I know some.)

I think both groups would be helped by watching less television and not reading shallow magazines.

Freeman Hunt said...

Gottlieb, if there is any hope, please retrieve your side of the Bloggingheads. I want to hear what you have to say!

Freeman Hunt said...

Spend some time learning to be someone worth being married *to*.

Bingo. Too much time is spent telling young people what to look for at the expense of telling them how to be worthwhile mates themselves.

The Gold Digger said...

I'm not sure I'm one to be giving advice, as I didn't marry until I was 44 (but I was proposed to a few times before that). Still, I am married to a wonderful man. We agree on almost nothing except bacon - our politics, religion, and bedtime do not match. But we are never bored with each other. I make sure he has hot meals, clean clothes and a clean house, he makes sure I have a house. We have fun together. It's a good life.

MadisonMan said...

We agree on almost nothing except bacon

Well, are you for bacon or against it?

I hope you're both for it.

Meade said...

Wow, I hope my book gets this much attention when it comes out: “Do NOT Marry HER: The Case for Waiting Until You're Both at Least In Your Fifties When You Can Finally KNOW What Truly Matters”

Freeman Hunt said...

I went to a summer camp when I was about ten. The camp was held at a university, and I took a two week class in psychology while there. At one point, we were supposed to come up with an independent project. My partner and I decided to survey people on about forty seemingly unrelated questions to see if any of the answers were correlated. The questions were really banal things like favorite color and favorite flavor of ice cream. We were sure that something surprising would turn out to have a very pronounced correlation.

Nothing did.

We should have asked about bacon!

(In subsequent years at the camp, I always did my psychology projects on training rats. Always got testable results that way. Have sort of wanted a Skinner Box ever since.)

YoungHegelian said...

In the case of all three of these women (author and commentators), don't you think that an important subtext in their finding Mr Perfect involves finding a jewish Mr. Perfect, and "settling" involves making an often wrenching decision to marry in to a lesser choice or marry out and bear the social costs?

Most other ethnic/religious groups in the US don't have to worry about assimilating themselves out of existence in 100 years.

When I asked my jewish wife many years ago why she didn't marry a jewish guy, she said "too small of a gene pool to comfortably fish in". She picked what side she was on in no uncertain fashion.

The Gold Digger said...

We are definitely for bacon! The most important component of our Valentine's dinner last night was the cream cheese stuffed bacon wrapped jalapenos.

(See photo here: http://class-factotum.blogspot.com/2009/11/marriage-201-lecture-62-darn-grateful.html)

c3 said...

Are fls and Cedarford the same person?

AllenS said...

Want to see some really good writing? Check out The Gold Digger.

Joe said...

The conceit in this is women assuming they are more than adequate.

former law student said...

Are fls and Cedarford the same person

Not my fault if people choose to fit a stereotype. Most Jewish women are not JAPs, by the way. One I know has the misfortune to have a Jewish American Prince for a brother, while the girls are completely free of the syndrome.

Other stereotypes people embrace nowadays are the New Jersey Guido, and the Lincoln Park Trixie.

I am neither antiItalic or antisemioccidental

kentuckyliz said...

Extended recreational dating leaves scars on the hearts of both genders.

Hormonal contraception negatively affects women's judgment about suitability of mates.

I always admire the long-married ones who were each other's first sweethearts and they didn't rack up high mileage. I know lots of people like that. It doesn't fit the feminazistic plan though.

What is successful in the short term recreational dating market is almost exactly opposite to what bodes well for a long and happy marriage for well matched mates.

I have that independent streak (scientifically measured--abnormally high for female gender norms)--but my family is really good at finding a good mate and marrying well.

countercultureconservative said...

Bottom line: women marry for money, men marry for sex. Love is just the bonus. It's the icing on the cake, but it's never been primary. When women talk about "marrying well", they are talking about the money.

Roger Sweeny said...

Yes, married people and unmarried people are different. Married people as a group are happier than unmarried people but that doesn't mean the unmarried will get happier by marrying. Some will, some won't and some will feel even worse--perhaps ending in a messy divorce.

We misinterpret social survey data all the time: like assuming that because college graduates make more than people who don't go to college that those who now don't would be better off financially if they did. Some would, some wouldn't, and some would be worse off, especially those who leave with debts and without graduating (as about half of entering freshmen do).

Big Mike said...

Bottom line: women marry for money, men marry for sex.

I hope you're speaking for yourself, counterculture. Sex is by no means difficult for a man to get these days. A woman who's worth coming home to, now there's the challenge.

countercultureconservative said...

>>>Sex is by no means difficult for a man to get these days.

That's one of the big reasons why marriage is falling out of favor. So no, I'm not just speaking for myself. Check this out:

http://countercultureconservative.wordpress.com/2010/02/14/postmodernism-and-decline/

The Gold Digger said...

Well thank you AllenS! You are very sweet!

Hoosier Daddy said...

Bottom line: women marry for money, men marry for sex.

Well I would say that men marry for what they think will be regular sex. Boy do they have a surprise coming. So to speak. Just ask Tiger.

But I think most women will tend to overlook a lot of preferred qualities in a mate if his wallet is nice and fat. Seeking a mate for physical security has been replaced by financial security.

countercultureconservative said...

Excellent questions by Althouse and effort to draw this author out. Too bade we didn't have the audio of her ditzy responses.

Oligonicella said...

RigelDog --

"More older bachelors (and by older I mean those who are past the age when their peers are mostly married) seem really lonely and more socially isolated than older single women."

Cats don't count.

Harsh Pencil said...

As many have stated, the fact that married people are happier than unmarried people does not imply that marriage necessarily causes people to be happier. It could be that some other factor causes some people to both have a higher probability of being married and have a higher probability of being happy.

Econometricians have in many ways solved this problem, at least if given the right data. What is need is the right instrumental variable . A perfect instrument would be something that is A) highly correlated with being married, and B) otherwise completely random, or at least uncorrelated with happiness.

An example that econometricians "solved" was the question of whether being in the Vietnam war caused one to earn less. It was clear that Vietnam vets earned less, but this could be because draft boards were more likely to send who they saw as "losers" or exempt those they saw as having high potential. So it may have been that it wasn't going to Vietnam that caused low future wages, but instead, that the same characteristics that caused one to get sent to Vietnam also cause one to get low wages.

But the perfect instrument for this was one's draft lottery number. It was very predictive of getting sent to Vietnam but since it was literally random, it was uncorrelated with everything else.

So what is correlated with being married, but not correlated with happiness? I can't think of anything. Can you?

Synova said...

"Extended recreational dating leaves scars on the hearts of both genders."

I think this is true, and true for men as well. I wonder... do we, instead of recognizing that "recreational dating" by any other name, really isn't good for men either, have we decided that women should be more like men? Like smoking! Instead of saying, smoking is bad for men, we get the "you've come a long way, baby." And our society pushes women to do what men do... that was never *good* for men either.

"Hormonal contraception negatively affects women's judgment about suitability of mates."

And this is downright shocking. I don't like the idea of taking hormones anyway, and worry about the health implications of taking elective hormones for 20 years... but imagine making your biggest decision in your life under the influence of something that seems to alter who you find sexually attractive or not.

(...)
"What is successful in the short term recreational dating market is almost exactly opposite to what bodes well for a long and happy marriage for well matched mates."

A person looks for different things, don't they? The person who makes a good date might not make a good wife at all. So dating is approached with vastly lower dating standards.

What blows my mind is someone who dates the same guy or the same gal for *years* and then decides that this person isn't a candidate for a life-long partnership. Like that wasn't apparent after, at most, six months? Of course it was. But the goal was *dates*. The goal was having someone there to hang out with, be seen with, go places with, and have sex with. The standard for that can be pretty darn low.

But if you're planning on getting married some day, you just spent all of those years with someone you knew six months in wasn't "the one". This just isn't very smart.

pg-13a said...

I can't believe no one has mentioned http://jezebel.com/5463227/fat-like-him-self+help-writers-ex-speaks-out

Synova said...

*Sigh*

I guess this whole thing just gets my goat.

It brings up all the idiot women with toddlers who don't feel "fulfilled". It brings up all the ones who actually *did* let him pay for her school and then leave him. It brings up all the ladies who didn't value my brother's character. It brings up all the stupid men who complain about high maintenance but won't give a second look to a women who isn't high maintenance. And it brings up all the times someone looks at a loving marriage of 20 years and uses the word "lucky" instead of "work" or "getting your head out of your *ss."

Bleh.

Theo Boehm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jessica said...

Anne - second time commenter, recently discovered and love your blog. (I'm a late twenty-something socially and fiscally conservative woman living in Chicago...) I just wanted to say THANK YOU for voicing my biggest problem with Gottlieb's book. To the extent that she's stating the EXTREMELY OBVIOUS point that nixing someone because he has the wrong favorite band is stupid, sure I agree with her. But like you said, such people aren't to be taken seriously anyway, and I don't know anyone who acts that way. What she need to be saying, in terms of saying something useful, is WHAT women are overlooking. (And for the record, I'm a very happily married woman, who both recognizes my husband is far from perfect, but also feels very lucky to have found him!)

kathleen said...

Gosh, I just don't find Gottlieb's points as banal as all that. I find it interesting they are being subjected to such belittlement on this blog. In an interview I saw with her, Gottlieb used the perfectly valid example of a woman writing a man off because he can't spell as well as she does. Feminism enters into it because it teaches young women not to compromise their talents or intelligence on any level, presumably including the level at which you choose a mate. Gottlieb's argument that this is harmful to women follows naturally. She also uses the example of a man who doesn't write well, or a man who is short (and spare me the argument that only shallow people consider the height factor when they look for a mate). These examples seem perfectly pertinent to me. What's the real issue with Gottlieb's book here?

knox said...

If you want to see a "high-maintenance" woman--watch "Say Yes to the Dress". Girls picking out their wedding dresses in a high-end bridal store in NYC. Hoo-boy. Witness the spoiledness.

Jessica, welcome, we need more girls around here!

William said...

"Being married and being single can both be bad. But both cannot be worse." Wanna bet. Unhappy women have unhappy marriages vs those who have unhappy spinshterhoods.

countercultureconservative said...

>>>She also uses the example of a man who doesn't write well, or a man who is short (and spare me the argument that only shallow people consider the height factor when they look for a mate). These examples seem perfectly pertinent to me.

I've always believed people aren't really looking for "love" or "companionship". If they were, there wouldn't be any lonely people in the world. What people are really looking for is a "match." They're looking for a physical match, a financial match, an educational match. Love and companionship are merely a bonus that hopefully comes with that "match." Which is why I believe anybody who is lonely deserves that loneliness. When it comes to marriage and relationships we are like sophisticated primates acting out our genetic programming. That used to manifest in arranged marriages, now it's more of a solo act, but essentially the same thing. Looking for the right "match." People will choose loneliness to an unsuitable match. Which is why I don't really feel sorry for single people. You chose loneliness.

knox said...

Which is why I don't really feel sorry for single people. You chose loneliness.

Yes, but you do have to feel sorry for fat or ugly single people. I do NOT mean that in a nasty way! Some people are alone because they're physically very unattractive; not by choice. I feel terrible for those people.

countercultureconservative said...

>>>Yes, but you do have to feel sorry for fat or ugly single people.

ABSOLUTELY. You nailed it. That's my caveat, I just forgot to include that. Those are the only people I feel bad for. The people who would have happily "settled" if given the chance to for companionship!

Everybody else, you got what you have coming to you. You chose loneliness because he was too "short", or didn't make enough bank. That goes for the men too; you chose loneliness because you wanted to sow your oats instead of settle down with the perfectly lovely woman. Or maybe she was too flat, or too curvy, what have you. No pity from me. In fact, I quite enjoy the singleton handwringing! lol. You chose loneliness! Now look at you! Old, fat, and undesirable yourselves. And blaming everybody else. Regretting the perfectly acceptable guy or girl you should have married but didn't for whatever stupid and superficial reasons you made at the time. Life's a beeotch, ain't it! lol.

kentuckyliz said...

c-conserv: when I wrote well-matched, I wasn't talking about finances. If you don't know what else that might refer to, uh, well, I can't help you there.

Ok, all, what is a good reason for divorce?

Me, I think the 3 A's: addiction, adultery, abuse. If either spouse engages in one or more of these, and refuses to solve the problem, it's a dealbreaker.

Back to the article: people don't like to marry unhappy people, even other unhappy people don't want to.

Fat or ugly is no excuse. We all know plenty of couples who are fat and/or ugly, and those are the ones that make you think, there's someone for everyone.

Happy people flying solo by choice and nature (like me)--are we so rare?

kentuckyliz said...

Footnote: I have no pity for average or ugly people who think they deserve a supermodel...if they end up alone and lonely (<--those are two distinct things), it's their own damn fault.

ken in sc said...

There is no such thing as ‘the one’. If you find someone you can rely on, who respects you, and you respect him/her, and would make a good parent—that’s the one. I used to tell my students, respect is more important than love. I still believe it.

Irene said...

knox said, "If you want to see a "high-maintenance" woman--watch "Say Yes to the Dress". Girls picking out their wedding dresses in a high-end bridal store in NYC. Hoo-boy. Witness the spoiledness.

So true! Every Friday night, Mr. Irene pours up some Martinis, and we turn to TLC to watch this nugget!

Now that's a great marriage. "Sweetie, do you want to watch Say Yes to the Dress?

*smooch!*

Kirk Parker said...

kentuckyliz: "Extended recreational dating leaves scars on the hearts of both genders."

Synova: "I think this is true, and true for men as well." [emphasis added]

Me: True indeed, but people realize it less with men because the 'scars' don't often manifest themselves in the same way as they do with women. (Verbally analytical expressions of their discontent--whether accurate or not, that's a completely separate question!)

kentuckyliz said...

I wonder why when I said both genders, men had to be added to that?

Maybe I should have said both sexes.

I didn't say identical scars. People pretty much ignore the male side of the scar problem. Misandry again.

former law student said...

In an interview I saw with her, Gottlieb used the perfectly valid example of a woman writing a man off because he can't spell as well as she does. Feminism enters into it because it teaches young women not to compromise their talents or intelligence on any level, presumably including the level at which you choose a mate. Gottlieb's argument that this is harmful to women follows naturally.

On the average, men are not as good spellers as women, so if spelling is a criterion a lot of men are going to remain single. Not that I understand prioritizing spelling when every machine has spell check.

Men are better at math and spatial orientation. I did not write off my wife because she cannot relate a map to her surroundings as well as I do -- one of the advantages to being a couple is complementary (sp?) skills.

Feminism does not direct women to "marry up"; that's prefeminism, when a woman's fate depended almost entirely on the man she chose. Feminism lets women marry whoever they please because each woman is responsible for her own destiny.

kathleen said...

fls, you miss the point. feminism directs women never to "marry down" in terms of intelligence (ESPECIALLY in terms of intelligence). and any indicator that a woman might marry down intellectually, even if it's just spelling ability, sends off alarm bells of potential subjugation and in the properly indoctrinated feminist mind. that's what Gottlieb's book is about, and i can tell you from the milieu I was raised in that she wasn't snatching this stuff from thin air.

former law student said...

feminism directs women never to "marry down" in terms of intelligence (ESPECIALLY in terms of intelligence)

Read the feminist blog responses to the Pew Research Center's report on women marrying men with less education and less income than the women had. This sign of "women's empowerment" was universally applauded. Women married the men they chose for other than economic reasons.

kathleen said...

no thanks! btw, are you trying to argue that I know nothing about feminism? lol

former law student said...

are you trying to argue that I know nothing about feminism?

You're like a Hindu discussing filet mignon.

Ms. magazine had an article in Summer 2007 on the resurgence of traditional biases in China with the ebbing of Communist ideology: the same traditional biases you have labeled "feminist."

Zhong Yin Sun, professor of sociology at Fudan University and currently a visiting scholar at Harvard, deplores resurrected stereotypes and terminology: “People assume men should be older, smarter (better educated, at any rate), taller, and earning more money, while women should be younger, dumber, shorter, and poorer.… A career woman is a ‘white collar beauty’ [traditionally feminine], or a ‘dragon lady’ [pejorative for one ‘too capable’ to find a husband, a successful but ‘unattractive’ woman, or one in an unhappy marriage]. There also is ‘exquisite woman,’ whose high social status causes difficulty finding the right man, due to ‘marry up’ culture.”

countercultureconservative said...

What does intelligence have to do with character?

Truly women get the men they deserve!

Evan Marc Katz said...

If you'd really like a point by point explanation of all the pre-conceived biases against Gottlieb's book, I've taken the liberty of writing them down for you.

http://www.evanmarckatz.com/blog/dont-judge-a-book-by-its-cover-the-truth-about-%E2%80%9Cmarry-him-the-case-for-settling-for-mr-good-enough-by-lori-gottlieb/

It's remarkable to me how many people can criticize something without having actually read it. It's like deciding you don't like Avatar because you don't buy the blue people on the poster.

As someone who was interviewed in Gottlieb's book - and someone who gives women relationship advice for a living - I find Gottlieb's points virtually unassailable.

Most of the criticism says much more about the critics than it does the actual book, which is entirely reasonable - and relies far more on the input of authorities than it does on Gottlieb's conclusions.

There's just a lot of messenger shooting going on here...

Freeman Hunt said...

Declaring that “Marry Him” is misogynist, misguided, stupid, wrong, or pathetic without reading it is the equivalent of thinking that Obamacare includes “death panels.

Wait, so this book really is all those things?

rhhardin said...

Math guys long ago worked it out as the "secretary problem."

Figure out how long you're willing to wait to get married.

Check out candidates for the first 1/e (1/2.7) of that time

Marry the one after that that exceeds the best so far.

Your chances of getting the best of all are at least 1/e.

Your chances of staying single are 1/e.

Ann Althouse said...

"It's remarkable to me how many people can criticize something without having actually read it."

If I had read every word of that book, I'd have been a fool, and what good is a fool's opinion? I read enough to see that it was immensely padded and full of repetitive anecdotes about shallow people. I read enough to set up a conversation, which is the point of Bloggingheads.

By the way, I don't think Gottlieb read any of my work to prepare, nor did she, for example, watch my Bloggingheads with Bella DePaulo, which might have helped her engage in a conversational way with me and produce a good diavlog. She didn't even know I was a professor, as she embarrassingly advised me at one point that I needed to go to a university to learn what feminists are like. I think she saw me as another generic PR outlet.

BTW, talking about a book without reading the whole thing ... is that worse or better than writing a book promoting marriage when one has never been married? It would be amusing to know what book Lori Gottlieb would write about marriage if she'd "read that book" — ie, actually lived in a real marriage.

Ann Althouse said...

"As someone who was interviewed in Gottlieb's book - and someone who gives women relationship advice for a living - I find Gottlieb's points virtually unassailable."

Mr. Katz, I find you quite ridiculous. But thanks for putting your financial interest in the matter right on the surface where we can see it.

kathleen said...

I for one still don't understand your problem with Gottlieb's book, other than it was "padded" which is true of 99.9% of the nonfiction books published this century. Do you deny that feminism tries to persuade women that marriage is useless generally? fish, bicycle, etc?

kathleen said...

fls, your argument is as turgid as it is specious. as ever : )

Ann Althouse said...

"I for one still don't understand your problem with Gottlieb's book, other than it was "padded" which is true of 99.9% of the nonfiction books published this century. Do you deny that feminism tries to persuade women that marriage is useless generally? fish, bicycle, etc?"

I haven't gone into all my reasons. This post is mainly about the difficulty I had getting a Bloggingheads conversation going, but the sentence that begins with "Gottlieb relied heavily on social science surveys" is a key part of what I find wrong. And there is quite a bit of criticism in the video clips if you haven't watched them

As for the feminism stuff, I will have to do a separate post and present material from the book showing what she was saying, but briefly, it's lame as hell to blame feminism for your failure to marry. Feminism mainly argued against unequal marriages and marriages the oppressed women. Gottlieb asserted that feminism told her that she could "have it all," which doesn't explain why she didn't try to get "it all."

I invited Gottlieb to respond to the charges against her that have been made by feminists, and she just couldn't or wouldn't do it.

kathleen said...

"Feminism mainly argued against unequal marriages"

Right, so doesn't it follow that you wouldn't, or even shouldn't, marry someone less intelligent and accomplished than you?

"Gottlieb asserted that feminism told her that she could 'have it all,' which doesn't explain why she didn't try to get 'it all.' "

She did try to get "it all". She didn't succeed, which is kind of the point. She recognizes the trying to get "it all" as being a fool's errand, because the definition of "it all" when one is young is unrealistic.

Evan Marc Katz said...

Ms. Althouse,

"Ridiculous" would be issuing personal attacks over differences in opinion - what you've done to both Gottlieb and myself.

You were invited to debate Gottlieb based on her book. As such, it was not imperative for her to research you, but one would think you should have read her book to give her a fair adjudication.

Next, I coached Lori Gottlieb in the book. That's no secret. And it has nothing to do with my defense of the book. My defense is because the information in it is highly useful to my clients - women in their 30s who are interested in having biological children and want to make healthier decisions in love.

This is your blog, but really, show some respect to dissenters. I defended "Marry Him" because the information inside has inherent value - not because of my own pocketbook. I'm quite sure I will not make another dollar due to my depiction in it.

Finally, since you brought up an incorrect detail about me: I'm married - mostly because I followed the advice issued in Gottlieb's book about finding a partner with whom I shared long-term values, rather than chasing a checklist of qualities. Another important message of the book... which you'd know if you'd read it.

Please don't be dismissive of reasonable people with reasonable points of view discussing them in reasonable tones. It just makes you look unreasonable.

Alex said...

Feminists don't get it. Woman cook the food, man take out the garbage. Subvert that and you're in fucking trouble.

Ann Althouse said...

"You were invited to debate Gottlieb based on her book. As such, it was not imperative for her to research you, but one would think you should have read her book to give her a fair adjudication."

It was to be a conversation, and I prepared to the extent needed for a conversation. I skimmed the book. That was plenty. She should have opened up and done conversation about the topic. It wasn't that hard. It shouldn't have been like pulling teeth.

"Next, I coached Lori Gottlieb in the book. That's no secret. And it has nothing to do with my defense of the book. My defense is because the information in it is highly useful to my clients - women in their 30s who are interested in having biological children and want to make healthier decisions in love."

I can't imagine the sort of women you deal with. I assume they have a lot of money. This is a sort of professional help that seems truly pathetic, and I've never known anyone who has seemed to need it.

"This is your blog, but really, show some respect to dissenters. I defended "Marry Him" because the information inside has inherent value - not because of my own pocketbook. I'm quite sure I will not make another dollar due to my depiction in it."

I'll let my readers assess the credibility of that.

"Finally, since you brought up an incorrect detail about me: I'm married..."

What incorrect detail are you referring to? I didn't say you weren't married. I said Gottlieb wasn't married. Or are you referring to my calling you a ridiculous man?

"... - mostly because I followed the advice issued in Gottlieb's book about finding a partner with whom I shared long-term values, rather than chasing a checklist of qualities. Another important message of the book... which you'd know if you'd read it."

Oh, spare me! That advice is so banal it's ridiculous to source it to Gottlieb's book. Any fool knows that. The book posits idiots, then purports to enlighten them to the level of dim bulbs. If you are in that category, you are a ridiculous man.

"Please don't be dismissive of reasonable people with reasonable points of view discussing them in reasonable tones. It just makes you look unreasonable."

Evan, since you seem to love repetition, I'll say it again: You are a ridiculous man.

Ann Althouse said...

Hey, Evan, I checked out your webpage. I love the part where you say "Look to my right" and nod over at something to your left.

You *are* a ridiculous man!

You're helping women make healthy, informed choices in love, I see. Your laughable insincerity is a sight to behold.

Ann Althouse said...

Blech! I can't believe I've waded this far into self-help bullshit. I have no interest in this trash. I really don't care who with extra money gives it to what bullshit artist. I have no respect for this genre of writing and this corner of commerce. How I got sucked over into the women's section of Bloggingheads, an enterprise I basically really do care about, I really don't know.

kathleen said...

You can't really claim that you're above all this Ann, you read the book, dialogued about it, posted about the dialogue, updated your post about the dialogue, and chimed in on this comment thread multiple times. I'm not sure you even know what your issues with this book are, but it has clearly hit a nerve.

Ann Althouse said...

Oh, I know what my issues are:

1. The self-help genre is dreck and I should have been more careful about framing my involvement with it.

2. Gottlieb seems oriented toward churning out self-help books and articles and selling them, not in discussing real issues.

3. The question of marrying is complex, and the book addresses only things that are so shallow that there is no point in bothering with them.

4. I wasted hours of my time and didn't even get an apology of any sort.

5. Gottlieb hasn't thought seriously about the problem of divorce.

6. Gottlieb only looked from her own perspective, not the perspective of the man she was settling for.

I could go on...

kathleen said...

huh? how does one "frame involvement" with the "self help genre"? What does that even mean? And why should a book entitled "Marry Him" discuss the ginormous "problem of divorce"? and why would anyone owe you an apology after you volunteered to do something?

Ann Althouse said...

"how does one "frame involvement" with the "self help genre"?"

I'm not a reader of self-help books. I'm not looking to help myself through such literature. I will read such books as a Bloggingheads contributor, but I need to make sure that the author is interested in having a real conversation with me (me, specifically), and that I'm not seen as taking the role of a reporter for an author doing book tour PR. I'm not interested in just reading the book and being a sounding board. I'm interested in free-ranging dialogue and debate.

"And why should a book entitled "Marry Him" discuss the ginormous "problem of divorce"?"

That is amply answered in the original post. Advising marrying someone "good enough" requires some explanation about what marriage means: Is it forever or just as long as the man remains good enough? It shed a *lot* of light on her book when Gottlieb owned up to a very liberal view of divorce.

"... and why would anyone owe you an apology after you volunteered to do something?"

It was understood that we were working together to produce a diavlog, and when she lost her side of the diavlog, she should have felt bad about the consequences to me and at the very least emailed that she was sorry. I certainly would have.

Triangle Man said...

You do a Divalog with her that might not have been flattering to her and then she loses her half. Sounds like the dog ate her homework.

Triangle Man said...

Er...Diavlog, not Divalog. Sorry.