Lisa is a reluctant writer from Long Beach, California, and a dear friend from back in our D.C. Days. Her book, COURTING ME(N) is in its final stages of being edited and about to be sent to one agent, praying transition will be just as easy as when she only applied to UC Berkeley and got accepted there. This is a labor of love after living a life of devotion, not religious but in alignment with regaining women’s mastery over themselves and their bodies. Her writing can be found at Huffington Post, Caring Bridge, Authentic Antenna and her own website.
Here’s a little something from the end of her new book. It’s a little longer than most of our posts, but well worth the read, especially if you’ve ever thought about settling.
The Case for Not Settling
Last year a BFF (mother of three, PhD in Psychology) loaned me her cherished copy of Lori Gottlieb’s book, Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough. This dear friend desperately wants to be married again. I took the book and resolved to read it, which was a complete struggle. Many times I wanted to throw it across the room.
Ms. Gottlieb said that a woman’s value goes down annually once she hits the age of thirty-five. Ms. Gottlieb, who wrote the book when she was forty-one, said dating life at forty-one is a horrendous, unfair, uphill battle and a woman should lower her standards and desires in order to marry because ten years later at fifty-one, her options would be even more minuscule. Marriage has never been my goal in this life so I don’t know why I let this author get under my skin. I was fifty-one when I read it.
The day I finally finished the last chapter and could close this book forever, five separate men were rotating around me, all wanting to meet me. Maybe none of these guys wanted to marry me, but that’s not the point and I didn’t care. Since I was in my teens, I’ve been of the belief that women as they age are ostracized and ignored, while in fact, they have wisdom and humor in spades that younger women do not have. I wrote a poem about my eighty-plus-year-old great grandmother when I was seventeen. I saw clearly how wise she was and how most everyone ignored her after she’d devoted decades of her life raising the next generations.
I am an old woman.
I have years that have
accumulated and made
me what I am today.
I am lonely.
I have a family deeply involved
in living their lives,
accumulating their years.
Where is the answer?
What I have
they are looking for.
And what I need,
they are throwing away
While searching for what I could
already tell them.
If only they gave me the chance
I know parts of me are drooping and sagging. Occasionally, wrinkles, lumps, and spots discourage me but usually my mind and heart are so deeply engaged in my life, that the physical is a side slice of comic relief. Yeah, this is what aging is, this is what worry does. Such is nature. At a certain time the flower begins to wilt, the paint begins to chip, and the food begins to decay. Certainly there are life-enhancing potential practices to at least look immortal, if one wishes. It is a human right to spend one’s time trying to stop or slow down the aging process. Individuals decide for themselves what their priorities are on the subject.
For this woman to write a book and tell all women that they will all experience this lack as they age is criminal in my mind. And yet, so many supported her book, saying that young women must be accurately warned. Not until recently were women accurately warned about the difficulties of giving birth and raising children! I agree honesty is important and I’m glad the truth about sex and reproduction is more available for the youth so they can make wise decisions that will affect the rest of their lives. If she can broadcast her personal discovery about aging and get a movie deal portraying this ancient point of view about the institution of marriage, I stand up and say, relish the wisdom of experience over spending one’s time criticizing the nature of the beast.
I don’t know what my options would be if I suddenly put on my profile that I wanted to be married. But since I don’t, I won’t. I don’t object to marriage, but as a free spirit, I don’t feel legal and financial incentives are enough to entice me to get married. I would like to meet many happily married couples. Seriously. I don’t know many. Perhaps if I did, I would feel differently about this subject. I believe most of the marriages that break up started for the wrong reason in the first place. I believe what Ms. Gottlieb is professing is another bad reason to choose an existence that might—if not for sure—irritate the hell out of them a few years or decades down the line. Especially when marriage doesn’t have the lasting power it had in previous decades, I don’t know what all the fuss is about. Can one only have lasting dedication and lifetime commitment if a piece of paper is signed and filed at city hall? I think not.
I’ve recently had a number of really easy, incredibly relaxing, and thoroughly enjoyable dates. They were with articulate, accomplished men who wanted to find love. One was with a computer technician who’d finished his masters in Counseling. I had two dates with him; both were peaceful but not particularly fiery or enticing. Then I met a local but foreign-born airplane mechanic and spoke with someone who had been teaching for two decades; good men. Then I went out with two Indians, one was a premiere doctor my age and the other a young 21-year old economics student who has been successfully investing since he was seven. All four wrote to me and wanted to meet. None of the dates had lots of drama attached.
I’m definitely attracting a different type right now. We enjoyed our time together and I was lifted by each experience of meeting and conversing. None led to romance, even though two of the four inferred they were quite ready to get randy. I wasn’t afraid to ask questions over the phone first, and then in person, that helped me get a sense whether going further would be a repeat from the past or a new proposition altogether.
What amazed me was that having written this book, I feel many of the patterns, which I kept repeating over and over, were no longer guiding the moments when I was first meeting a man previously.
I didn’t worry about what I was wearing, or who would pay. I didn’t fret if I would be enough or if any specific situation would unfold I couldn’t handle. On Valentine’s Day I went out with a rude man, but let him know I didn’t appreciate his behavior and I was done. What could have previously become a big heavy drama, was a tiny bleep on the screen.
Lori Gottlieb has a chapter that riffs on how much more expensive it is to be single. She says once married a woman doesn’t have to put as much into upkeep, which costs so much to stay on top of the latest fashion trends, including nail polish and lipstick colors (as if men care), to clear the runway and keep both heads of hair coiffed. The author says once married one can sit around on a Saturday night in sweat pants and eat take out. She tallies it all up and her results were shocking. But of course, in her mind, one must be married in order to keep those costs down. If she ever does get married I wonder if she’ll write the follow-up that says her husband left her because she no longer groomed her bush.
I believe her concept is antiquated and hostile to the women of today. I believe many women in today’s world recognize authenticity is a vital component in self-esteem, and aren’t as likely to buy her old-fashioned degrading doctrine, no matter how many corporate or religious identities back up her point of view.
Thirty-one million people are living alone in the United States. I’m pretty sure a large percentage of these people live alone by choice, not because they couldn’t find a partner. In today’s world there are so many options. If a human being is growing to one’s potential, there are times when solitude is necessary to hear one’s own choice. I truly believe many people are married, not because they are in love with their mates, but because they both abhorred the concept of being alone. So they were willing to tolerate each other as a couple. From womb to tomb we are alone. As tightly merged as you wish to be with another, time and circumstance will bring you apart like the sand and the sea. It’s not always high tide.
I’ve always believed, and time has proven my hypothesis correct, that at least for me, as I evolve I attract another with similar levels of consciousness. As I’ve become less self-destructive, more conscious of my own demons, as well as capable of moving forward with my own personal goals, I’ve met men who are thriving and happy in their own lives. If one settles with a man in order not to be alone, she is weighing down her potential with an anchor in one world, when in truth, over time, as she naturally evolves she’d probably like to explore a variety of different seaside vistas.
I am not saying commitment doesn’t have its own time and place. I’m merely saying to commit to another in order to be appropriate, acceptable, and approved of in the world’s eyes is never going to bring an individual their own true joy and inherited chance to express their uniqueness. I’m not saying my way is better than Gottlieb’s. I’m saying women need to recognize they have a choice and shouldn’t allow themselves to be duped into thinking they are running out of time because their beauty will fade and they will have little value as they age. Maybe if they are a model in Manhattan this is true. But for older women, the companionship they seek is sought as strongly by men who feel they’ve gone beyond their own expiration date.
We should see clearly what options are available, and accurately what choices bring what results. We should also remember that many people, not just introverts, enjoy their own company. Being alone is not something to be looked down upon. Choosing part-time solitude over full-time duality doesn’t make anyone wrong, doesn’t label them a misfit, and no one should be ostracized because they are developing their souls with incredible precision instead of taking the easy way out, as early as possible, and imprinting a pattern that’s externally acceptable but not always internally inspiring.