A mate less ordinary

Written by Emily Nagoski, Ph.D.

Because I personally find it reassuring to hear someone else say what I'm thinking, I'd like to take this opportunity to reassure all the single women over 30 who genuinely, seriously, honestly, deeply are neither panicked nor desperate about being single: we definitely exist, even if Lori Gottlieb has never met any of us - and there might be a reason why none of us have bothered to introduce ourselves.

Presumably though, I and those like me are not the "pretty ordinary" women she apparently represents. Including all women whose self-worth is defined by something other than their ability to maintain a long-term monogamous heterosexual legally conscripted relationship. Also all women who simply prefer not to be married, opting to live with their partners rather than involve a church or a state in the ultimate of private acts. Also all women who definitely do want to get married but are quite happy to wait until they've found someone great. (These are not mutually exclusive categories.) Extraordinary, all of us, apparently.

Um... okay! I'll accept that!

You know, Oprah had a show about single women in their 30s and 40s - my sister DVR'd it for me - and the message was the same as Lori's: don't be so PICKY. Apparently one woman was hesitant even to date someone who made less money than she did. Is that the kind of thing "pretty ordinary" women do? Because I don't. Do you?

Are we actually being that picky? It's true that the pool of men over 30 who are not gay, already married, or actively drug-addicted is not overwhelmingly large, but is it really too much to ask that he be sexually interested in me, not committed to someone else, and not inclined to choose a chemical over me, just because accepting one of those conditions ups the odds I'll meet someone?

I admit my standards go a little farther. I do insist that he not be a total emotional shipwreck, incapable of communicating his needs and desires or understanding mine. I'm afraid I also absolutely require that he never voted for Bush - not even if he came to regret it. I could never respect a man so easily fooled by a cowboy hat and a folksy way. Come to think of it, wasn't Bush's great charm that he was "one of us?" You know, like, "pretty ordinary?" And look how that turned out.

I can't help feeling that the ultra-picky over-30 single woman phenomenon is more a creation of the media than a reality. Because, contrary to Lisa Gottlieb, all the single women over 30 I know are totally reasonable in their assessment of potential mates.

But perhaps all the single women over 30 I know are quite astonishingly extraordinary.

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