This article is from a while ago, and I’m not sure whether I agree with it fully or not. I obviously think the lessons hold for women and men, but that the author telling us about her personal experience can’t be generalized too much. Still, I don’t pay much heed to the “as you get older, the market favors men” argument. Being lonely sucks, and getting older and staying lonely sucks worse, regardless of gender. I’d rather not make this a he said/she said game and instead get to the question of whether we have the right attitudes or not. It seems like something we should definitely discuss in the comments, to wit:
What I didn’t realize when I decided, in my 30s, to break up with boyfriends I might otherwise have ended up marrying, is that while settling seems like an enormous act of resignation when you’re looking at it from the vantage point of a single person, once you take the plunge and do it, you’ll probably be relatively content. It sounds obvious now, but I didn’t fully appreciate back then that what makes for a good marriage isn’t necessarily what makes for a good romantic relationship. 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. And I mean this in a good way.
I don’t see many articles – including ones that are more realistic – stress the self-evident boring parts of living together. But I think what’s really interesting is how complicated our mindsets regarding relationships are:
I thought that the person I married would have to have a sense of wonderment about the world, would be both spontaneous and grounded, and would acknowledge that life is hard but also be able to navigate its ups and downs with humor. Many of the guys I dated possessed these qualities, but if one of them lacked a certain degree of kindness, another didn’t seem emotionally stable enough, and another’s values clashed with mine. Others were sweet but so boring that I preferred reading during dinner to sitting through another tedious conversation. I also dated someone who appeared to be highly compatible with me—we had much in common, and strong physical chemistry—but while our sensibilities were similar, they proved to be a half-note off, so we never quite felt in harmony, or never viewed the world through quite the same lens.
It’s easy to condemn the author and forget just how articulate and self-reflective she is. Most of us are probably being really picky about relationships and not even knowing it. At the same time, I do wonder if some of us are being picky enough. I know some women and men who’ve gotten into bad situations because of making their criteria too lax to begin with. Still, “settling” itself is pretty hard, all things considered:
And no matter what women decide—settle or don’t settle—there’s a price to be paid, because there’s always going to be regret. Unless you meet the man of your dreams (who, by the way, doesn’t exist, precisely because you dreamed him up), there’s going to be a downside to getting married, but a possibly more profound downside to holding out for someone better.
So I do encourage you to read the article and comment here, because I’m interested in the truth of these reflections and other questions we can raise.