Women who have failed to find their perfect partner by the age of 30 should give up their search for Mr Right and settle instead for Mr Right Now, an American author has claimed.
Older, single women often deny themselves any chance of finding happiness by failing to downgrade their expectations, says author Lori Gottlieb. (SMH 28.1.10)
She blames things like Jane Austen and romatic movies for making women feel that Mr Right is out there and obtainable. She obviously hasn’t read her Jane Austen that closely. Only heroines who have the good fortune to fall in love with men who are independently wealthy enough to marry whom they choose, rather than for property or money or status, get to marry for love. Witness Lizzie’s best friend Charlotte in Pride and Prejudice marrying Mr Collins because he was her only chance of a husband, and numerous other women settling on matches that were considered good, rather than marrying for love. Jane Austen is more often a cautionary tale. I would also hope that the author would credit women with more intelligence than believing that just because something happens in a movie it’s true to life. I wonder if she would counsel Lily Allen to marry her boyfriend who is so good to her except that he is completely selfish in bed. Is it better to be married and unsatisfied than single at 30?
Of course, this has immediately been panned by a number of critics, including Becky Pugh who has written We must never stop searching for Mr Right. There are many good reasons given for why 30 is a bad cut off age for finding and marrying Mr Right or settling or less. One woman didn’t meet her Mr Right until she was 40 and doesn’t regret a moment of the search, another questions whether being alone is really the big bad thing it’s made out to be.
But it’s not which side of the debate you are on which is really interesting, what is most interesting is the insistence upon marriage in a heterosexual relationship whether with Mr Right or Mr He’ll do being the only way to happiness and avoiding the apparently dreaded ‘older single woman’ (older than 30) syndrome. I’m saddened but not surprised by how lesbian and de-facto relationships are erased or indeed any relationship that isn’t exclusively between an man and a woman, and how the capacity for women to be happy regardless of their marital status is ignored. The insult to women’s intelligence, well what’s new. Why do we need so many books about when and who to marry, instead of thoughtful articles about the pressure on women to commit. After all, unmarried women seem to live longer.