1. a gradual sinking to a lower level
2. something that 20-somethings swear we’ll never do
Let’s talk about what it means to be part of the Millennial Generation for a moment. In spite of recessions, volcanoes and the media’s incessant urge to shove Lindsay Lohans and Kate Gosselins down our throats, we are optimistic. We are confident and empowered. We count on always being the exception, and never the rule, and on eventually getting everything that we want out of life (and more!). This stubborn belief that we deserve the best may seem naïve and entitled, but it’s the truth nonetheless.And hey, at least we’re willing to work our asses off for it.
Given all this, it should be obvious that we have no intention of setting – whether it’s in love, career, or what cool bar we want to hit up on Friday night.
So it’s no wonder that I found myself laughing and shaking my head in disbelief when I finally forced myself to pick up Lori Gottlieb’s “Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough”– the follow-up book to her massively controversial 2008 Atlantic Monthly article. In both, if you can wade through all the reader-friendly caveats (see: “I don’t mean to say that settling is ideal.”), she basically argues that young single women like myself should stop holding out for true love and passion and should instead settle for any decent guy who’s willing to marry us and won’t screw up our kids too badly. Because in the end (end = your 40′s), being in a disappointing marriage is better than being alone.
I’m confused: has Gottlieb not seen “The Notebook?” I don’t know one girl under 30 who plans to settle for anything less. Whether she’s right or wrong, poor Gottlieb is wasting her time.
Lots has been written about how the book is an offensive affront to women, feminism and the entire academic field of statistics. For the sake of time, I don’t feel the need to add another angry voice to the chorus. But I WOULD like to point out that Gottlieb’s argument is just, well, not very relevant to our generation of non-daters, even if she expressly wrote it for us to read. On one hand, settling is a word that simply isn’t in our vocabulary. And on the other hand, dating is essentially dead – a fact that 43-year-old Gottlieb clearly knows nothing about.So why is Gottlieb telling us to date guys we don’t like, when we’re not even dating the ones who we DO like?
Look, I get the general idea – give guys a break. Don’t rule them out just because they don’t make a lot of money or forget to pop a Tic Tac before trying to kiss you. But Gottlieb is out of touch in her assumption that women my age are NOTgiving less-than-ideal men a chance. Maybe years ago, when exchanged phone numbers, traditional dates, and unambiguous rejections were the norm, she was right. But it’s 2010, and we now live in a post-dating world. And in this world, guys have plenty of casual opportunities to surprise and woo us, despite a receding hairline or an unremarkable resume.
What Gottlieb fails to recognize is that the more ambiguous settings that now make up our love lives – parties, group dinners, networking events, email exchanges, soccer games, Facebook wall flirtations, text convos – usually offer guys multiple chances to impress us without fear of a formal rejection. Aside from going on the occasional formal date, us girls are constantly interacting with guys who we’re NOT officially dating, in person and via technology. We may be picky about who we call our boyfriend, but we’re not that picky about who we’re willing to Gchat with. And if that guy ends up being cooler than we might have initially thought, then, great! We’re into him!
Screw Gottlieb: we ARE giving guys a chance, every time that we reply to their texts or respond to their tweets.We’re not an army of man-eating superwomen who see men as imperfect and disposable playthings. But we’re also not going to settle for boring, passionless relationships out of fear. So what shouldwe do to feel proactive in making sure that we avoid Gottlieb’s fate?
Let’s start with this. We need to look around us and realize that we actually know tons of guys – co-workers, ex-flames, friends of friends, teammates, bandmates, classmates, bartenders at our regular spots – who could end up being unlikely yet awesome suitors.We’re in a perfect position to fall for imperfect guys because, in this casual atmosphere, we don’t have to rule them out so quickly and decidedly. And the sooner that we recognize and embrace this, the sooner we can stop stressing about who we are and aren’t dating, and the sooner we can adapt to the new ways of finding Mr. Right so that we don’t end up having to settle like Gottlieb and all her case studies.
Because, seriously. Who has time to be bitter and desperate when you’re getting ready to rule the world?
Jess is the co-creator of Dating & Hookup, alongside her childhood best friend Becky Lynch, and is the author of the book - yep! - Dating & Hookup. She never tires of hearing your post-dating stories. She wants you to enjoy your love life, and is full of advice on how to do so.
datingandhookup.com is a website that explores modern romance in the Millennial era – which, let’s be honest, looks nothing like we were taught to expect. We feature essays, advice and social commentary with humor, compassion and brains, and we vow never, ever to publish a piece called “The 10 Best Ways to Satisfy Your Man in Bed”. Do click to submit your work to us. We love you.
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