Do Women Actually Have Dating "Checklists?"

Lori Gottlieb has been spreading her particular brand of Cautionary Matron doomsaying since 2008, and now she's plugging her upcoming book with an appropriately creepy interview in Marie Claire.

Gottlieb's book is titled Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough — and readers might want to hide this tome from "Mr. Good Enough" should they, in fact, succeeded in marrying him. Those all-important husbands may not be too thrilled with Gottlieb's advice to "e-mail the guy who's a little doughy," or with her general theme that marriage is a bulwark against misery rather than something to be entered into with joy and excitement. In addition to insulting men by assuming that if women didn't lower their standards they would never marry them, Gottlieb also shares with Marie Claire her most impressive skill — psychic powers. Observe:

I know that women in their 20s will be offended by this book, more so than those in their 30s and 40s, because when you're young, you think, I'm independent, self-sufficient, uncompromising, and I'd rather be alone for the right reasons ... You think, Sure, I want to meet my soul mate, but if it doesn't happen, I'll be OK. You don't actually believe it might not happen. I didn't.

Gottlieb reads the minds not only of foolhardy singletons destined for eternal loneliness, but also of those women wise enough to get themselves hitched:

Single people always compare themselves to couples who are at the most challenging part of their marriage-they're cranky, sleepless, fighting about child care. But ask them if they'd rather be single. They wouldn't.

Of course, when Gottlieb talks about Mr. Good Enough, he doesn't really sound that bad. In addition to being "a little doughy," he may also be short, but Gottlieb says she's not "suggesting you pick the fat, lazy guy who repulses you." Obviously it's not reasonable to expect your partner to be perfect in every way, but Gottlieb frames this reasonable tidbit of advice in more obnoxious terms:

[T]here are guys who are now my friends who wanted to date me back in the day, but I wasn't interested because of my checklist.

"Checklist" is the new "picky" — a word that gets thrown around to explain why it's women's fault that they're single. Anna Kendrick's character in Up in the Air had a checklist, and though it did seem to fit in with her arc as a naive young woman who learns that not everything in life can be done efficiently, it didn't feel terribly realistic. Does anyone actually have a checklist? Or perhaps the more relevant question is: are there really a large number of women out there who want partners but can't find them because of a rigid list of relatively shallow traits? I don't know any of them.

Gottlieb may have an answer. When Marie Claire's Lauren Iannotti asks her if she thinks "a husband is the key to your happiness," she responds,

It's not about being happy or unhappy.

She then ticks off some things she likes about her life, and some things that would be easier if she had a man, but her initial answer remains the most telling. Maybe in Gottlieb's view, life really isn't "about being happy or unhappy," but rather about having one's ducks in a row, having certain things that one is supposed to have — including a husband. And maybe people who make checklists for men graduate to making checklists for life.

Does Feminism Have A Place In Love? [Marie Claire]