Liz Hoggard: Quit hankering after the One Big Love

When it comes to relationships, life doesn't always work out as planned

Related Topics

I was sitting in my kitchen, enjoying a leisurely breakfast for one, when a headline made me spit my toast out. "Find Mr Right before age of 30 or settle for second best." Dear God, it must be spring. Single women are the new spectator sport.

According to an American book out this week, women who refuse to commit unless they find a man with whom they feel a deep love are consigning themselves to a lonely future. Lori Gottlieb, author of Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr Good Enough, blames feminism for the number of women who spend years holding out for an equal.

Usually it's easy to demolish these ghastly tomes. They're written by surrendered women or right-wing dating gurus or men with a very big axe to grind. Rather unhelpfully, though, Gottlieb is a 40-year-old single woman herself. She has experience at the coalface. As a single mother, she wishes she had "settled" for any of the "perfectly acceptable but uninspiring" men she rejected.

Now that's fine to write a book about your own mistakes. I admire Ms Gottlieb for having the guts to "out" her own control-freak behaviour. Maybe Gideon from Filing would have been perfect for her. But please don't confuse that with the experiences of a generation of unattached people.

Repeat after me – there is no such thing as a collective private life. Just humans doing their best. Of course if you want kids, you need to be pragmatic. But could we judge a little less, and understand a little more? And you smug marrieds can stop sniggering. According to Gottlieb: "Marriage isn't a passion-fest; it's a partnership formed to run a very small, mundane and often boring non-profit business." Not very sexy.

Personally, I haven't been turning down a string of rich prospective husbands. To be honest, a credit card and non-sexist views does the trick. It's just life doesn't always work out quite as planned.

When I was growing up, my mother warned us that men "just wanted one thing". We were put on red alert about men trying to take us to bed. Any place. Any time. It sounded fantastic. Like one long Martini advert. Can I tell you just how untrue that proved to be? Maybe girls are the new boys. But it's hard work luring platonic dates round for candle-lit suppers on a school night. It does hurt your feelings when they "aren't ready" for a weekend break.

Single friends who have been dipping a toe in the internet dating pool complain that it's impossible to get a man to leave the house. Maybe they're the impossible romantics. Gottlieb is right. Companionship matters. No one can live a life of passionate intensity every day. We are naive to hanker after the One Big Love.

Recently a mathematician worked out that there are 16 people on the streets of London who would be perfect for him. It's just bloody hard to meet them, he sighed. We're all faulty, hopeful people – whatever our romantic status. A single life isn't a second-best life. You don't have to settle – just because you weren't picked yet. The trick is to hold your nerve, then hold it some more.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Year 6 Teacher (interventions)

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...

PMLD Teacher

Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...

Real Estate Solicitor 2+PQE - City

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - HIGH VALUE REAL ESTATE / RESID...

General Cover Teacher

£120 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Luton: Are you looking for part time/ ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A couple calculates their costs with the help of some paperwork  

It’s the dream of escape that makes couples keep their finances secret from each other

John Walsh
Theresa May  

It's not hard to imagine Prime Minister Theresa May standing on the steps of Downing Street

Jane Merrick
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?