Mr. Good Enough.

by f

I regularly read the posts on While browsing this morning I came across their review of Lori Gottileb’s book, Marry Him: the Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough. A lot of relationship bloggers have a great deal to say about this book because it’s a book that elicits strong opinions. Many people, including Prozac Nation’s Elizabeth Wurtzel, agree with Gottileb’s general premise. Jezebel does not, and neither do many female bloggers and writers. Newsweek has an impressive rebuttal of Gottileb, which I’ve also found through Jezebel. These are all worth reading.

Neither the premise nor the author’s love of the subject is uncharted territory. (An excerpt of the book appeared in the Atlantic in 2008.) The premise goes like this: women in the dot-com, post-feminist-and-Facebook, fiercely individualistic and picky present have insane checklists for potential partners. These wishlists might include height, political, clothing, outlook, wealth, status, emotional and other such requirements. However, these attitudinal shifts create some real repercussions. When women reach their thirties and find themselves still single, they realize that they’ve passed up on many legitimate offers for reasons that seem stupid retrospectively.

Someone’s got to put the brakes on this bullshit.

Lori Gottileb — as Jezebel correctly states — seems to think that there’s nothing worse than having no husband. And, as she (incorrectly) assumes, all women in their thirties turn their opportunities into disasters, leaving them single. Never mind that since the advent of technology and greater career opportunities for women, many don’t have the time to meet others, instead putting careers over romantic attachments. I’m not saying that that’s ideal, either — and this is where others love to disparage un-feminine feminine marxists — but Gottilieb seems to discount that possibility.

But for a second, let’s fuck the checklists. Think about what Gottileb is really saying. She’s saying that the man that we pick should be “Mr. Good Enough” and not “Mr. Best”, right? Because if we wait for Mr. Best, our vaginas might be too icy and frigid to have babies, so we might as well get ’em while we’re good and wet.


I have to say that there are a thousand unexplained this-might-go-wrong scenarios that go with settling that have little to do with idealism. Trivialities — these checklists — don’t mean much after you’ve dated someone for a while, for whatever reason; the cliche “opposites attract” describes a phenomenon in which people who do not expect to find love, do. “Checklists” are disregarded all the time. In fact — as Jezebel points out — these “checklist” ladies are of a class of their own. They’re the kind of folks who are into outward appearances, and we’ve had the expression “keeping up with the Jonses” for more than a hundred years now, so such people have existed forever. Saying that this must be true for all women is stretching it.

It’s simple: If you can’t love the person you’re with, it hurts more than just you. It hurts your future family. Your children will not be able to ignore your resentment toward your husband, who could be (genuinely) loved elsewhere.

Gottileb might’ve meant to say that as women, we should expand our horizons and look for love in different places. I’m going to call the the Ratatouille dichotomy — after the Disney/Pixar movie about a rat, Remy, who aspires to be a chef. When Remy’s idol, Chef Gusteau, says “anyone can cook”,  noted critic Anton Ego takes comic umbrage. I will always remember the elegant disdain with which he laughs at this chef. But after the movie ends, Anton Ego softens a little bit; he says something along the lines of (and I’m paraphrasing, here):

“Not anybody can cook … but a good cook can come from anywhere.”

And that’s true for a man. Not any man can or will suit you. But the man who will can come from anywhere.

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