Did I lose my Mr. Good Enough?

by mssinglemama on May 7, 2008

I’m a dating single mom. It’s hard. Very hard. The dating part. The single mom part, not so bad. You get used to it. You adapt and pretty soon, you can’t imagine life any other way. But the dating part – it can be a drag.

I am not in urgent need of a man to “save me.” It would be welcome, but it does me no good to pine for someone to sweep in and make my life easier. It took one year for me to come to peace with this. One year to suck it up and get over the fact that I’m on my own.

This weekend I was pondering my break up with Kris. And then I read Lori Gottlieb’s now famed “Marry Him!” article. I’d read it before, but this time instead of boiling over with rage I could see some of her points.

If you missed it, she’s a single mom (thanks to a sperm donor) and has never been married. She’s also in her mid-30’s and believes that single women and single moms need to start settling for Mr. Good Enough instead of waiting around for Mr. Perfect. And, according to Gottlieb, if any woman tells you she doesn’t want a man she’s lying to you and to herself.

Okay. That’s the part that makes my blood boil.

First of all, she may be a single mom, but she’s never been married to a guy who turns into a jerk. And yes, Lori, there are nice Mr. Good Enough’s who can turn into monsters too. It’s this idea – that to be happy as a single mom, I should be married – that infuriates me. It reinforces the stereotype that just because I’m single and with child – that I must be miserable and desperate for a husband.

But here are some of Gottlieb’s points I agree with:

Men are not perfect. We can’t expect them to be perfect, flawless beings who adore and fawn over us like Queens. I get that.

The pickings are slim. As we age, the selection of good guys left does diminish. After 35, the men big on commitment and starting a family have been snapped up. Do their wives appreciate them? That’s a different story all together.

Single moms have new priorities. When you’re a dating single mom your standards are different. You’re now looking for the perfect partner – not the perfect man. Which is why, when we do find one, we treat him like gold and appreciate him despite his flaws.

So, thanks to Lori’s article, all weekend I was freaking out thinking … “Oh my god, what if I lost my Mr. Good Enough?” So much so that I broke down and called Kris – “was it me? Did I drive you away? Was I a horrible girlfriend?”

“No,” he said sweetly, “no, not at all, why would you think that? We are just at such different places right now.”

And then it dawned on me. I didn’t lose my Mr. Good Enough…we lost each other – because neither one of us was ready to take the plunge, dive off of that cliff and just commit. Which means, that Lori Gottlieb can husband shop all she wants, but this single mom is not ready for one again.

But, if I do meet someone who wants to grab my hand and pull me off of that cliff – I might reconsider. In otherwords, I may be a single mom but I still need the sparks and there’s no way I’m settling.

What do you think about settling? Do you feel like you’re desperate to find someone new – or a new husband?

[Image credit – pulled directly from Gottlieb’s article, here.]

{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

Red Wine Gums May 7, 2008 at 10:47 am

Not that the situations are completely similar but in the circles I walk in there’s a big pressure to get married. It’s an implicit suggestion that you must be married and can only be complete through that. What I think of all that?

It’s Bollox


Tracy May 7, 2008 at 10:47 am

Well, point of the matter is, I REFUSE to settle. I’m not looking for ‘Mr. Perfect’, I’m looking for ‘Mr. Perfect-for-me’ .

Sure I’d like to be married one day, but I’m not going to do it at the expense of my happiness. In my opinion, a relationship or marriage should be something that makes you both/all happy and settling just isn’t happiness…it’s being content. Furthermore, having a man in your life is often seen as something a woman needs in order to complete them. Thank you very much but I’m pretty complete already. Having a guy in my life is a bonus to my happiness.

Content is fine, but why be just ‘content’ if you can actually be ‘happy’ and can a relationship truly be open and honest if you just settle…do you create that interpersonal connection if you just settle?


QTMama May 7, 2008 at 11:06 am

Hell no on the settling. Not ever again.

I’m with Tracy on this one – I’m not looking for Mr. Perfect, but I AM looking for Mr. Perfect for Me. And once I thought I found him, and now, well now I realize I’m glad I didn’t. 🙂


jennifer vierstraete June 15, 2009 at 4:02 pm

We as single moms cannot afford NOT to be picky!! Settling is like saying you are not worth the pursuit and thats not fair!! Just as men have needs … so do we and what we need is just as important. For Goodness sakes guys!! Does she have to take you by the hand and tell you everything she wants? She already is raising a child (or children) DON"T make her raise you too!!


Momto2 March 25, 2012 at 10:42 pm

So true! I just called things off w my now x fiancé because he needed me to take care of him first, not my kids. Blended families don’t work like nuclear families.


debra May 7, 2008 at 11:23 am

I know that everyone’s situation is different, and that I am fortunate to be able to say this, but for me, personally, it is easier to be a single Mom than it was to be married. I get to make all the day to day decisions, my rules (based on my morals/values) aren’t negotiated or compromised, I can give my son more focused attention, and I always know where the scissors, screwdriver and car keys are, because I am the only one allowed to use them! 😉 Life is easier with only one person to focus on. That said, I certainly hope that I will have the chance to be married again, since for me having a partner makes my life more fulfilling and satisfying, despite it being more complicated.

On the matter of settling…..it feels dishonest…. dishonest to yourself and to the man you settle for.


Hanna May 7, 2008 at 11:52 am

I felt a similar reaction of panic too when I read this article, because It really made me feel like the clock was ticking. It made me fast-forward to what I could be like in the future, and I don’t want to be soaked in bitterness (thought extremely intelligent) the way Gottlieb’s article read to me.
My married friend thought the article was offensive, saying “yeah you have to be READY to get married” and apparently Lori Gottieb isn’t in the right mindset to get married.
The article reminded me of a Spike Lee movie, yeah its great and true and thought-provoking and shocking, but what do you want me to DO WITH IT? How can I change my current state of being into the perfect world?


Lauren May 7, 2008 at 12:18 pm

“And, according to Gottlieb, if any woman tells you she doesn’t want a man she’s lying to you and to herself.”

That part makes my blood boil too. I am happy being single an don’t particularly see myself as married. Occasionally I wish there was someone but those moments are far outweighed by the fact that I am grateful for my freedom. I don’t have children and perhaps it would be different if I did. But I think that you are very brave to be doing it on your own and I commend you for it.


singlemomseeking May 7, 2008 at 12:43 pm

Ms. Single Mama, that part about “the pickings are slim” is FALSE. Granted, I live in California, so maybe the pickings are different out here. I think it’s a self-defeating belief.

Man-oh-man, the Bay Area is flooded with men in their late 30s and 40s who really want to start families. Many of them are divorced and wanting to start over. Many of them want to have babies ASAP. But there is no shortage of single men who want to be in relationships.

Give yourself some time and get out there a bit more… you’ll see.

You know that I’m a non-settler, too!

I agree with all the single moms here who say that it’s much easier — and my daughter and I are much happier — to be on my own, than to be in a tense, unsatisfied relationship.


whatmenthink May 7, 2008 at 1:54 pm

The Bay Area is definitely the place for singles and single parents!

I strongly disagree with the Mr. Good Enough idea. Not only are you short changing yourself, but you are short changing the men. We men don’t want to be Good Enough for you. We too want to be Mr. Perfect. Now, I understand the message here. We need to learn to compromise and not have unrealistic expectations. But Mr. Perfect isn’t really perfect. Mr. Perfect is the man you meet where both of you can agree that you love each other and want to work on a relationship that is in constant growth. Where both of you strive to become Mr. and Mrs. Perfect. Nothing worthwhile can be attained without commitment and hard work. Yes, there is a risk that it won’t work out, but thats the risk we all take.



Jennifer Vierstraete June 15, 2009 at 4:03 pm

I know that men are imperfect.. but lets face it ladies… if we pulled half of their stunts they would of moved on too!!! I'm exhausted right now and had to tell my boyfriend to be there for me when I had an emergency with my son… NOT okay… Men open your eyes and see what your lady is going through… don't make her ask … it sucks the heart right out of it…. men.. study your ladies become their students and don't be afraid to surprise her… if your afraid then its about YOU and it leaves her unable to open her heart and pour out on you.. YOUR MISSING OUT THEN!! i know I need a man who isn't afraid to take a second place to my son.. and take a lead on our relationship….I don't have the energy to pursue you but once I am I'm sure I would have no problems with breaking out a little love from my side too…. I don;t want a dinner … I want an apology when you know you have hurt me, for you to take initiative on the conversations we have and to be a little more attentive to me… is this harsh? yes. am I worth it? absolutely.


dadshouse May 7, 2008 at 5:05 pm

I agree with Debra – it’s sometimes easier being a single parent than also having a partner. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want a woman in my life. It just means my priorities have shifted to my kids.

Will I settle? No. I try to be happy and grateful for what I already have. Sounds like Ms Single Mama and others are doing the same by embracing their lives as single parents.

As for available men over 35 – there are tons! Especially in Silicon Valley, where the ratio of single men to women is a zillion to one. (You can quote me on that, I counted.)


aporia May 7, 2008 at 6:07 pm

To be honest I reckon this is a great article not just for single mums but for all women who are not yet married – we could all be in that position one day.

I think it will definitely pay off to search carefully instead of rushing. Think of how many years left you’ve got to live, and also the year of your child, and maybe calculate a percentage which you think is a reasonable period to husband-hunt.


flightattendant May 7, 2008 at 6:40 pm

Maybe I need to move to Silicon Valley, but until then I kept reading my kids the fairy tale, Princess Bubble-because I want them to know they too can be happy alone.


mssinglemama May 7, 2008 at 6:57 pm

Yeah! Will all of you Californians stop rubbing it in. : ) Seriously, in the Midwest we marry a bit younger or something. Don’t get me wrong – there are plenty of men left – but statistically speaking, after a certain age (at least around here) most are snatched up.

Loving the comments!!!! Thanks everyone.


Columbanons February 5, 2015 at 3:49 am

DocThank you for you elucidation in this conmemt section, and I do generally get the concept you describe, but I do have a question.It is my understanding that many if not most of these “funds” and institutional investors are structured in such a way as to make it darn near impossible to invest in, and especially take delivery of, physical. I, for example, hold out absolutely no hope that my pension managers with be in physical by any time that it would matter anymore. So I just make personal adjustments accordingly.Is this so, and if so, what will it take to change this?And could this move us into the beginning of phase three already?Ennis


Crazy Computer Dad May 7, 2008 at 10:08 pm

Since 50% of all marriages end, statistically speaking your chances of finding the person that totally fits are actually pretty good. Believe me, not all of those marriages fail because of men. My belief six years ago was similar to yours. I believed that all the best women were taken. Fortunately, like Singlemomseeking says about men, that is not nearly so. I still haven’t found the right one, but I don’t want to settle, and sometimes it takes a while and storm here and there to find out who someone really is or if they are a good fit.

I could get on some gender bashing here, but the honest truth is that as humans, each gender has an equal number of character flaws among them. I’ve got plenty if anyone is short some.

🙂 You’re a loving and caring mom. Your son, and any potential mate that comes along, are very lucky to be with you.

Happy Mother’s Day !(early)


Ms. CDN Single Mama May 7, 2008 at 10:27 pm

New to reading blogs and am definitely bookmarking this one! I’m not alone! I’m a single mom of 4 and have found my Mr. Perfect for Me. Going to read your archives now!…


dadshouse May 8, 2008 at 12:39 am

I suppose from your perspective it seems we Californians are rubbing it in. From my perspective as a California male, believe me, I’m not. I would love for some of you single women to get your butts out here! There are MEN GALORE. You’ll have a field day. Until then, I dream of your arrival. (Just don’t bring any microwaved frogs, and we’ll be good)


msmollie May 13, 2008 at 10:55 pm

Are you kidding me?! If I did want to settle I WOULD be married right now. Single mom’s on their own terms much better off and better to date.


ForeverTogether? May 24, 2008 at 7:09 pm

This is SUCH a pertinent discussion. Right now I have a Mr. Goodenough. In fact he his better than “goodenough”. His a thoughtful, handsome successful consultant. He makes me his number one priority and is ready to commit as soon as I am. The problem is that there are so many other successful, handsome men and I have only been with my boyfriend (of 5 years). I am afraid that if I marry him without ever having been with someone else it could cause me to be unhappy in the long term. I feel like I should take a break with him but I know that he will be so hurt it would end up being permanent. Any suggestions?


alwaysbeensinglemom July 17, 2013 at 8:26 am

Yes, please do break up with him so that I can get a crack at him. Seems like you want to play the field a little bit and that’s just fine. But I assure you that if your Mr. Morethangoodenough is as good as you say he is then he will not be available when you DO decide to settle down.


mssinglemama May 24, 2008 at 8:50 pm


I’m not sure … that is a tough one. I think everyone gets wanderlust? You know … did you read my entry on the diff b/n love and lust? Have you tried taking a vacation without him?

Maybe do that first. Take a week to yourself – to think – and if you find that you’re actually attracted to other men, then there’s your answer. Often we daydream but when it comes down to it – we just want to be with the one we are trying to leave.

Good luck!


davidrochester June 22, 2008 at 11:23 am

I think the controversy over all of this probably comes from people’s definition of perfect. For example, there’s no question that I’m waiting for the perfect woman, and I have a list of non-negotiables, a couple of which strike some people as highly unrealistic or unreasonable … but they strike them that way because the things I need aren’t the things they need. However, it’s absolutely compatible with my idea of perfection if the woman I’m with is 40 pounds overweight, if she has a history of depression, if she has children of her own from another relationship, etc. Some of my “that’s OK”s are dealbreakers for other men, just as some of the things I need make no sense to other men.

Now, if my idea of the pefect woman were a twentysomething Victoria’s Secret model with a Ph.D in physics who happened to give incredible blow jobs despite being a virgin … yeah, I’d probably need a pretty big smack with a clue-by-four.

I don’t think anyone should settle, unless their idea of perfection points to immaturity or narcissism to begin with. If a woman’s idea of the perfect guy is a Brad Pitt-lookalike CEO who cage wrestles terrorists in his spare time when he’s not waxing his Jaguar convertible and taking orphans for rides in it, well yeah, she probably has issues.

But if your idea of perfection encompasses the things you know you need in order to live and grow emotionally with someone, then — don’t settle. And for Heaven’s sake … marriage has nothing to do with commitment. There are guys in their 30s and 40s out there who are capable of committing, but who don’t want the legal entanglement of marriage again. It doesn’t mean they’re bad guys; it means they don’t want to repeat a Hell they’ve already been through. I’m sometimes surprised that any single mom regards marriage as a good goal … especially after so many of you have worked so hard to achieve independence.

The other thing is … it’s our friends who last, our friends we can call at 3 AM, our friends who provide the best support and most reliable affection. My current theory is that the best thing I can do is invest my emotional energy in them, rather than dating, and seek to make more friends. My closest friend has been an angel, a savior, a soulmate … for almost twenty years. Whereas my longest relationship lasted six years, and now, as much as I would like to be friends with my ex, we can’t, because her new BF is jealous of me, and she has made the (wrong, IMO) choice to allow that in their relationship.

My point, and I do actually have one, is that a community of loving friends might be a better thing, in the long run, than settling. No, it’s not as close and intimate, and no, it doesn’t solve the frustrations of celibacy. But … at least in my case, if I look at what I think of as my “budget” of available time and emotional energy, I see that the payoffs are truer and deeper when I invest in the friends I have, and when I invest in pursuing people who have friend-potential.


mssinglemama June 22, 2008 at 11:35 am

Very wise words David, thank you for contributing!!!


K June 23, 2008 at 2:06 pm

that article made me mad too! I’ve had a few family members who are old and asked what I did to ‘ruin’ that relationship etc. I don’t need that, nor do I need to hear about how I let a ‘good one go.’
The thing is, timing plays a huge part and if both sides are not willing to put the time or effort in to move the relationship, it WILL NOT work!
I mean, I think we all know ourselves well enough to know what’s good for us.
I’m in a great relationship with someone who is younger and wonderful and starting out school in the fall… I’m going to have to wait through years of school to have my ‘perfect’ man… but both of us are willing to put in the effort to make those years easy and memorable for our relationship in anticipation of a future together. most guys wouldn’t want that… nor are most girls willing to wait, but sometimes you just know.
And that’s what I spent so long waiting for (keeping fingers crossed too, LOL), so why settle?


PT-LawMom June 12, 2009 at 4:51 am

I love this post! Mr. V isn't perfect, but he is definitely perfect for me!!! And he's not my "type" so I'm glad I took a leap of faith and tried something different or I never would have known this kind of love.


Jennifer Vierstraete June 15, 2009 at 4:09 pm

I have embraced being a single mom and do not feel that its a disease. Never in my life have I learned so much about love, life and who I really am. It helps to keep my priorites in check. I would not take this experience back for the world and everyday is an adventure. I refuse to settle on just someone… better to be alone and face the loneliness then with someone and miserable is what I truly feel. I am even more selective on the people as friends that I let in to my life.. I have spent so much investing in my son and I and our home for just anyone to come along … we are worth it!! So if you are in my life right now, you've been hand picked because you are a wonderful person!! 🙂 and we will shower you with so much love your world will ROCK!


Chantelle June 29, 2009 at 12:14 am

Went back and found this blog after listening to you on your show. You rock, you really do.


Chris's Mom November 5, 2009 at 7:44 pm

I almost settled for a 2nd time and just the thought of how miserable I would’ve been had I not broken it off makes me cringe. Yes, being lonely/dating again is frustrating, but being in a relationship ‘just because’ is just not worth it.


yesalonenoalone September 3, 2010 at 9:31 pm

I would never settle, but I do have to admit, that it is scary to date. I am a single mom, and, although I am in a relationship, I feel that we should take one step back in order to make it to two steps ahead.

However, I am scared to do that. I am almost 34 and have only dated a couple of guys since the relationship broke with my son’s father. I agree with Tracy, I dont want mr. perfect. I want a mr. perfect for me, which is not easy (although not that hard) to find.

However, you have to consider where you are in life. I am almost done with my undergrad and grad degree, and he is almost done his as well. However, there are a lot of stresses with school, kids and personal reactions to situations that are challenging. Not impossible though.

I think the hardest part of all of this is learning to work with your bf/gf in all of this. I mean, working in sync to achieve the same results for everyone. Like having my bf step out of being in control and me taking it back. This would help us better to communicate, better for my son so he is able to see that I am still in charge (not the bf), alleviate my bf’s stress of his “parental-like-feeling-role” and
giving everyone back their own roles.



ApprentieMaman September 14, 2011 at 6:03 am

I’m a relatively “new” single mom, my boyfriend moved out 6 months ago and nearly “forgot” our baby girl’s existence! Taking care of everything on my own (while being self-employed) is, as everybody can imagine, no piece of cake, but still easier than living together with my baby’s father. I try to remember this when I’m tempted by some online dating.


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