Liz Hoggard: Quit hankering after the One Big Love

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

Share
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

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

If I were Prime Minister: Every privatised corner of the NHS would be taken back into public ownership

Philip Pullman
 

Errors & Omissions: Magna Carta, sexing bishops and ministerial aides

John Rentoul
As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links