Diminishing Returns on Change

I found this in my drafts folder. I apologize if it’s already been posted. 

Far be it from me to believe that I’m perfect, or that every single single person out there is perfect yet unappreciated, like an artist before his era. Hey, we’re only human.

But the world abounds with people who look at us and immediately realize what the problem is. The range can be from “you’re too picky” to “your table manners stink,” but in every case the speaker is dismayingly certain. My favorite is when people presume to know how I behave on dates. (“You need to talk more,” “you need to ask more questions,” “you need to be yourself,” “you need to restrain your humor until he knows you better,” and so on.)

But sometimes the criticism is leveled at something personal or lifestyle-related. And that’s where it gets disturbing. I don’t mind criticism on my character, because it can always use input. But don’t you dare try to take my hobbies from me in the name of marriage!

That’s why I find this list by the Curious Jew disturbing. Let’s just take an example:

“You’re too well read.”

So, in theory, if she gave up reading, she would be married?

And what would she do then? Could she start reading again, or would that lead to divorce?

For that matter, if she very much enjoys reading, are you seriously telling her to abandon a great joy of her existence based on the theory that marriage will replace it?

If you take any item on the list and reverse it, it’s almost an immediate reductio ad absurdum argument.

“You need to smile more.”

“So you’re saying I could have married any of the guys I dated if I’d have smiled at them more?”

“Well no but what I mean is that…”

Yes, do tell.

(Then there are the alte newlyweds who suddenly perceive why it took them so long to get married. “I didn’t really want to get married.” “So you could have been happily married already to one of the guys you previously went out with? Yes? So where does your current husband fall in the spectrum of men you could have married: is he near the top or the bottom?”)

Look folks, I have no objection to hearing theories on why I’m not married yet. But first say them aloud to yourself and try to phrase it so that you don’t sound so silly.

Reasons to Marry Me

Several years ago a college graduate, Jamie Varon, wanted very much to work for Twitter. Unable to get a job, she started a website Twitter Should Hire Me, listing the reasons that the site should add her to the payroll.

I was reminded of this when Cheeky sent me a link to an article about a guy with a blog about why to marry him. The blog is actually kinda cute, in a super-self-deprecating sort of way. Also sad, because he obviously has such a low sense of self-worth, and you wonder why, and if anything can be done about it.

But his site got me thinking. Why should anyone marry me? Naturally I believe I’m a wonderful person with lots to offer. But getting down to it, could I list 38 reasons? (Okay, he can’t either. Most of those sound like reasons to stay away. But the basic idea…) What about, oh, eighteen reasons? And would my friends agree with that list, or would they cough, glance sideways at each other, and say something polite but noncommittal?

And then of course there’s the supply and demand thing: what you’ve got has to be what people are interested in marrying, and those people have to also be people you’re interested in marrying… has anyone ever tried doing an economic theory on committed relationships?

It could become a big deal. We could have dating actuaries to tell us how much we can demand for our package of traits and how to raise our market value by developing new talents, hobbies, or characteristics. There would be quadratic and differential equations for dating! [eyes go shiny and excited] C’mon, how cool would that be?

Okay, maybe not. But still.

Then we could have business cycles for daters, with the “Shidduch Crisis” relabeled as the “Great Dating Depression” of the 21st century. We’d be historic figures, and all our attempts at finding The One using speed dating, online dating, Shidduch Vision, singles events, End the Madness, and goodness knows what else, will go into history books in bold letters like the PWA and the New Deal and all the related programs. Instead of being jaded singles, we’d become historic characters. How cool would that be?

Okay, I’d rather just get married. But still.

Fine. Time to stop theorizing and come up with my 38 reasons. I think I’m going to have to call in the reserves on this one.

Ding-aling-aling… “Hello? Grandma? I have a question…”