Happily Never After

Find me someone to love, not tolerate

By Kasey Panetta

illustration of a woman at a bar by Keisha Cedeno

A 40-year-old single mom who never married, Lori Gottleib, chose to use a sperm donor to get pregnant because she thought it would help attract a man. Her article in The Atlantic advised women “not to worry about passion or intense connection,” but instead to settle for whatever they can get when it comes to marriage.

Hidden among rants about the double standards of men and women growing older, she claims that by the time women realize they're never going to find “the one,” they're too old to attract a good one and have already passed up some good(ish) options.

In Gottleib's words, settling when you’re young before marriage involves “selling your very soul in exchange for damaged goods.” So, Cinderella should have married the farmer with halitosis because Prince Charming would have been too busy running the kingdom and impregnating the ladies-in-waiting.

I should point out here that my friends call me the dream-crusher. I’m freakishly realistic and point out the flaws in any fairy tale or love story — but even I am horrified at Gottleib’s message. It’s unhealthy to recommend that girls settle for a guy they don’t truly love, just to have someone. She admits that settling isn’t ideal, but in her view, it's better than being alone.

It’s a challenge to keep that “spark” alive. But Gottleib asks: "If you get a cold shiver of disgust down your spine at the thought of embracing a certain guy, but you enjoy his company more than anyone else’s, is that settling or making an adult compromise?" I believe that’s called giving up, Ms. Gottleib.

The bottom line here is that we all know (or learn) that fairytales are just make-believe. But that doesn’t mean we should settle for someone who we aren’t attracted to both physically and mentally.

So here’s my advice as a damsel who’s been rescuing her own ass for years: find somebody you love, not just someone who’s available.

Illustration by Keisha Cedeno