To her credit, she now admits that autonomy is not the overriding good it is usually held to be within feminist thought. However, she is still disastrously wrong in her approach to marriage.
She suggests to women that it is better to settle rather than to hold out for Mr Right. Her concept of settling, though, is overly drastic. It doesn't mean accepting someone who is imperfect but whom you can nonetheless love. Rather, she thinks of settling as accepting a loveless relationship, but one in which the work of raising a family is shared.
Here is a selection of her thoughts on settling:
Marriage [is] more like a partnership formed to run a very small, mundane, and often boring non-profit business ... The couples my friend and I saw in the park that summer were enviable but not because they seemed so in love - they were enviable because the husbands played with the kids for 20 minutes so their wives could eat lunch ... So if you rarely see your husband - but he's a decent guy who takes out the trash and sets up the baby gear, and he provides a second income that allows you to spend time with your child instead of working 60 hours a week to support a family on your own - how much does it matter whether the guy you marry is The One ... when I think of marriage nowadays my role models are the television characters Will and Grace ... So what if Will and Grace weren't having sex with each other?
She goes on to write that she should have thought of marriage in terms of its "cold, hard benefits" and then she asks this disconcerting question:
By 40, if you get a cold shiver down your spine at the thought of embracing a certain guy, but you enjoy his company more than anyone else's, is that settling or making an adult compromise?
I wonder what the "certain guy" would think of such an arrangement.
Lori Gottlieb has rushed straight from holding out for a super perfect Mr Right, to pondering marriage to someone she doesn't even want to touch. There's much ground in the middle she might have considered.
For instance, in her essay Lori Gottlieb recalls that she spent her youth waiting for a "soul mate", a man with whom she felt a "cosmic connection" and a "divine spark". The instinct here is a fine one, but it needs to be tempered so that we don't end up searching for an idealised spiritual category rather than a real person. Lori Gottlieb tells us that she once:
dated someone who appeared to be highly compatible with me - we had much in common, and strong physical chemistry - but while our sensibilities were similar, they proved to be a half-note off, so we never quite felt in harmony, or never viewed the world through quite the same lens.
This idea of being "a half-note off" and not viewing the world "through quite the same lens" is what you would expect if you are searching for an idealisation; it's as if we were looking for the perfect "other gender" of ourselves - something which doesn't exist.
It's a similar situation when it comes to the romantic ideal of rescue. There is a female instinct to want to be saved by a man who sweeps them up, marries them and causes them to live happily ever after. In a tempered form, this instinct mightn't be such a bad thing; many men do have the corresponding impulse to play the rescuer role.
But a lot of women don't seem to temper the ideal; they believe literally in the "happily ever after" and are disappointed (or made angry or discontent) when a man doesn't deliver the perfect salvation which is not in his power to distribute.
I suspect that intellectual or creative women like Lori Gottlieb are more susceptible to pushing romantic ideals to their ultimate ends, rather than focusing on what might really be experienced.