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Good Dating Advice

Would you pass up a great house because you didn't like the color of the front door? Or turn down a plum job because the office was on the the third floor and not the seventh? Why then do so many single women hold potential romantic partners to such ridiculously high standards? In Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough (Dutton, 2010), journalist and author Lori Gottlieb, '89, says ditch the checklist, not the guy.

Stanford: We're talking about finding the person that you want to spend the rest of your life with. What's wrong with being picky?

Gottlieb: I think that the problem is twofold: It's that we've been too picky about the things that aren't ultimately going to matter—like height and hairlines—and we've been not picky enough about the things that ultimately are going to matter very much, such as shared values, whether you have the same life goals, whether you get each other.

You originally laid out your argument for settling in a 2008 Atlantic article that caused quite a stir. How did that evolve into this book?

When I wrote the Atlantic article, somebody emailed me and said, 'Look, I totally agree with you, we need to be more realistic and not look for the perfect 10. In fact, an eight is fine, I happen to be dating an eight. But what if I want a different eight?' And so that's what the book tries to answer. I asked the top researchers in a variety of fields as they relate to this question of 'what is going to make us happy in marriage and what should we let go of?' This is their data and their research, this isn't my opinion.

What did you learn from the experience of researching and writing this book? Has it changed the way you date?

There's always going to be the allure of our type, but I think that my type has really broadened. The guy that I ended up dating in the book, I didn't even want to email him because [in his online profile] he was wearing this bow tie and his occupation was real estate and I thought 'how boring.' But when I met him on the first date it turned out that he was an extremely artistic and creative guy, and the bow ties had this incredibly endearing story that spoke to his character.

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