Lori Gottlieb Interview – Settling for Mr. Good Enough

“Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough”
Jasbina Ahluwalia interviews Lori Gottlieb

 A few topics Lori Gottlieb addresses in this interview are:

  1. (3:54)     Lower Standards to Find Perfect Partner?
  2. (7:25)      Online Match Doesn’t Mean Real Life Match
  3. (10:15)    Unpredictable Attraction: Embrace It
  4. (11:57)     Dating Your Type: Are You Guilty?
  5. (14:40)    Look for Love Actively
  6. (17:11)     Second Date: Deal Breakers from Date One
  7. (19:36)    First Date Flubs: Forgive The Quirks
  8. (21:10)    Women Pickier Than Men: Choosing a Partner


Lori Gottlieb is the New York Times bestselling author of Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough, a surprising look at modern love, marriage and what really matters for true romantic happiness.

Lori’s other books include the national bestseller, Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former SelfInside the Cult of Kibu: And Other Tales of the Millennial Gold RushI Love You, Nice to Meet You (co-written with Kevin Bleyer of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart).

Lori is a licensed marriage and family therapist (MFC #54049) and provides therapyconsultation, reproductive counselingspeakingmedia and executive coaching services.  A contributing editor for The Atlantic, Lori has also written for such publications as The New York TimesTimePeopleElleGlamour, Marie ClaireRedbookSelfParentsSlateMore, and Salon and has contributed commentaries and feature stories to NPR’s All Things ConsideredThis American LifeWeekend Edition and Marketplace.

She serves as a parenting expert for Lifetime Moms and appears regularly as a guest on such programs as The Today ShowCNNMSNBCThe Early ShowGood Morning AmericaDr. PhilNPR and Oprah Radio. Her work has been included in numerous anthologies including the National Jewish Book Award winner The Modern Jewish Girl’s Guide to GuiltThe Secret Currency of Love, and The Best of Technology Writing. Lori has also co-created original pilots for Showtime, Oxygen, TBS and Nickelodeon, and was a staff writer on the NBC/Bravo series Significant Others, a sitcom about couples in therapy.

Lori has been featured on, among other programs, The Today ShowGood Morning AmericaThe Early ShowCNNDr. PhilInside EditionEntertainment TonightCNBCOprah Radio and NPR’s “Talk of the Nation.”

She is a parenting expert for Lifetime Moms and speaks frequently at events across the country on topics including parenting, relationships, teen girls, body image and media culture. Lori has a master’s degree in clinical psychology with an emphasis in marriage and family therapy from Pepperdine University, and did her undergraduate work in language, literature and culture at Yale College  and  Stanford University. She then worked as a film and network television executive and attended Stanford University School of Medicine before focusing on writing.


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Jasbina Ahluwalia

(00:49):  Hello everyone and welcome to Intersections Match’s Talk Radio, a monthly holistic lifestyle show focused on the continual evolution into the best versions of our authentic selves. We and our guests discuss relationships and health and wellness, each of which contributes to meaningful and fulfilling lives.

This is Jasbina, your host. I’m a former practicing lawyer and the Founder of Intersections Match, the only elite, national personalized matchmaking company focused on singles of South Asian descent nationwide in the US.

I’m very excited to welcome Lori Gottlieb to our show tonight. Lori is a national bestselling author and a journalist whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Time, People, Slate, Self, Glamour, Elle, Salon and the LA Times. Lori is also a frequent commentator for NPR’s All Things Considered.

Tonight, we’ll be discussing Lori’s bestselling book, Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough. Welcome, Lori.


Lori Gottlieb

(1:52): Thanks for having me.


Jasbina Ahluwalia

(1:54): It’s a pleasure to have you. As a professional dating coach and matchmaker, I’m fascinated by insights and perspectives regarding relationships. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough. I would love to explore some of the insights shared in your book. Before exploring those insights, Lori, I’d love to give you the opportunity to share with our listeners what prompted you to write this book.


Lori Gottlieb

(2:18): It wasn’t a book that I intended to write. It came about because, like many women in their thirties, I was still single. I didn’t want to be and I was wondering why I hadn’t found the right person to spend my life with yet. I was never one of those people who imagined my wedding. I just always knew that, one day, I would want to meet the right person and be with someone. I hadn’t found that. So many people that I knew hadn’t found that either.

I started to wonder, because I’m also a journalist, were we going about things in the wrong way? This was especially as more of my friends got married. I would hear about what made them so happy in their relationships, what made them happy in marriage and what made them feel like they were really in love with their husbands. It had nothing to do with the things that we were talking about and looking for when we were dating.

I thought, “Maybe we’re not doing things in a way that’s really going to make us happy.” I went to experts all over the country. I talked to neurobiologists about chemistry and sociologists about how the culture informs our choices and marital researchers about insights that they could share about what makes for a happy marriage. Then I tried these things out myself. That’s really what Marry Him is.


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Jasbina Ahluwalia

Lower Standards to Find Perfect Partner?

(3:54) How interesting. I found a quote in your book particularly compelling. I would love to share the quote with our listeners and then have you expand.

You wrote, “When happily married women told me what they thought was important as you get older, similar themes emerged.

What matters is finding the perfect partner, not the perfect person. It’s not about lowering your standards. It’s about maturing and having reasonable expectations.

There’s a difference between what makes for a good boyfriend and what makes for a good husband.” You started to speak a little bit about that just now. Tell us more about that.


Lori Gottlieb

(4:35) I think that people get really tripped up by the title of the book. It actually relates to that quote.

The idea of settling for Mr. Good Enough is used ironically in the title.

What those married people knew is that we’re all Mr. and Ms. Good Enough.

Elaborating on Lower Standards to Find Perfect Partner?.



Jasbina Ahluwalia

Online Match Doesn’t Mean Real Life Match

(7:25): In our matchmaking practice, one of our underlying philosophies is that knowing a lot of details about a potential match can come in the way of organically getting to truly know them.

As such, we deliberately share very little information between the matches prior to our introductions.

Given our philosophy, the following passage from your book where you quote Dan Ariely, a behavioral economist, really resonated. I’d like to learn a little more about that.

You wrote, “The less you know about a potential mate before you meet, the better, Ariely said. It leaves less room for the fantasy to build.”

You later wrote of Ariely’s findings, “Knowing too much about a person sight unseen makes it harder to become interested in him. The more traits you have knowledge of, the more information it gives you to rule somebody out.” Tell me more about this.


Lori Gottlieb

(8:26): When we do internet dating, if someone writes, “I like music,” you might say, “I like music. We have that in common.” You have this positive reaction the person.

If they name all of these bands that you don’t like, then you will say, “No, he’s not for me. I don’t like the same music.” You think this even though you haven’t even met the person. That might not matter at all.

We look at these profiles in this way. We make up entire life stories about these people based on one or two pieces of specific information that they might give us.

Elaborating on Online Match Doesn’t Mean Real Life Match.



Jasbina Ahluwalia

Unpredictable Attraction: Embrace It

(10:15) That’s interesting. During the personal consultations that we conduct as part of our process, we discuss essential needs or must-haves on the one hand and deal-breakers on the other.

I typically find it meaningful to probe the underlying “why” behind each must-have and deal-breaker.

Perhaps for that reason, the following quote from your book really resonated with me.

You said, “That’s a mistake many of us make. Our must-haves and deal-breakers are the “what” when they should be the “why.” Can you explain that to us?


Lori Gottlieb

(10:50) That was so interesting. We know what we’re attracted to when we see it.

In advance, we often don’t know what it’s going to be. That’s because we know what we’re attracted to but we don’t know why.

Elaborating on Unpredictable Attraction: Embrace It.



Jasbina Ahluwalia

Dating Your Type: Are You Guilty?

(11:57): Someone might say exactly what you said. They say, “I want a lawyer.”

You explore why. It could be that they are stable or intellectual. I hear many times from people, “I just want someone who put in the time to get that grad degree. I know that person has determination.”

There is another quote in your book. I think you’ve touched upon this already with different things that you’ve said. I believe that many of our listeners will find it interesting.

The quote is, “There was a big disconnection between who I saw myself with and what I actually wanted.” I think you may have touched upon this before. Tell us what you mean by that.


Lori Gottlieb

(12:45): I think that many people have a type. We keep going after that type. For whatever reason, that’s not working.

Elaborating on Dating Your Type: Are You Guilty?.


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Jasbina Ahluwalia

Look For Love Actively

(14:40) Empowerment for women and men in relationships is very important to me.

There is another quote in your book that I found particularly insightful and empowering.

You wrote, “I’m finding this more realistic way of dating kind of liberating. How reassuring it is to know that, in many ways, finding a good made isn’t just some random external event. It’s based largely on our own choices and actions.” I’d love to hear more about this. I know that our listeners would.


Lori Gottlieb

(15:16): I think that a lot of us think that destiny or fate will happen.

Someday, we’ll be in the supermarket. We’ll drop a can of peas and our eyes will meet. Some guy will pick it up.

No one really thinks that.

Elaborating on Look For Love Actively.



Jasbina Ahluwalia

Second Date: Deal Breakers from Date One

(17:11): Given your extensive research, did anything you learned catch you by surprise? There may be many things. I’m curious about what, if anything, caught you by surprise.


Lori Gottlieb

(17:26): I think so many things did. I didn’t think that I was picky before all of this started.

When you read the book, you say, “What’s wrong with this woman? How could she not have known how picky she was?”

I share a lot of that in the book. I don’t sugar-coat it. The reason I share that is because, when I did these interviews,

I also interviewed hundreds of regular men and women, single and married besides the experts.

People were very honest with me. I think I was really surprised by how much we analyze potential partners so early on, like on a first date.

Elaborating on Second Date: Deal Breakers from Date One.



Jasbina Ahluwalia

First Date Flubs: Forgive The Quirks

(19:36): What were some of the 300 things, in terms of character traits, that women were picky about?


Lori Gottlieb

(19:46): They were so nit-picky.

There were things like, “I thought he was really cute, smart and funny. We were having a good time. But then he did this Austin Powers impression on the date. I just couldn’t get over that. I was so turned off by that.”

What she might do is go back home, go out on more dates and go back to online dating to find the guy who is not going to do an Austin Powers impression.

Elaborating on First Date Flubs: Forgive The Quirks.



Jasbina Ahluwalia

Women Pickier Than Men: Choosing a Partner

(21:10): I will second that. Given your extensive research as well as any personal experience, I’d like to give you the opportunity to share with our listeners, many of whom are singles who are very interested in finding their mates, any suggestions you may have for them.

This would be based on your extensive research, personal experiences and the different experts that you’ve spoken with.


Lori Gottlieb

(21:46): I don’t have bullet points and exercises at the end of the chapters. The reason is that I approached this book very journalistically.

I would go to the experts and find out what the research said. Then I would try it out in real life myself.

There are so many things that I did. What it all came down to was changing my perspective.

Elaborating on Women Pickier Than Men: Choosing a Partner.



Jasbina Ahluwalia

(26:37): That’s wonderful. I think that is a great place to end. Can you share with our listeners a bit about the gentleman with the bowtie?

I think that relates to what you’ve just been talking about. I think it’s a very important point for everyone out there who is interested in meeting someone.


Lori Gottlieb

(27:14): Without spoiling the ending, I will give the introduction to it.

The guy who ended up becoming my boyfriend was someone who, on Match.com in his picture, was wearing a bowtie. I said, “What kind of person wears a bowtie? I don’t want to date Orville Redenbacher. What is that about?”

I wasn’t going to email him but I really liked the other things in his profile.

I ended up emailing him because I was trying to put into practice what all of the experts had told me about what I had been doing wrong and why I hadn’t met the right guy.

I thought, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. I’m going to do something different this time. I’m going to email someone that I would otherwise be interested in except for the fact that he was shorter than I would have liked and he was wearing this bowtie.”

When I actually met him, I found out later that he doesn’t wear bowties all the time. The reason he was wearing the bowtie, and the reason that he does have some bowties is that, when he was a little kid he said to his grandfather, “Grandpa, I want to be just like you.”

His grandfather said, “You want to be a dentist?” He said, “No, I want to wear bowties.” When his grandfather died 20 years later, his grandfather bequeathed him the bowties.

He had a very close relationship with his grandfather. He wears them sometimes because they remind him of his grandfather.

I thought, “That is the sweetest story.” It made me feel even more connected to him and admire his character even more.

We make these assumptions about why someone might be doing something, like why he might be wearing a bowtie.

We think, “I guess he has no fashion sense or he’s really geeky.” That wasn’t the case at all with this guy.


Jasbina Ahluwalia

(29:17): Everyone knows that I say, “Preconceived notions really get in the way of getting to know someone.” I think that’s a great example of that. I’d like to thank Lori Gottlieb for joining us today. It’s been an absolute pleasure. Once again, if you’d like to learn more about the insights that Lori has been sharing with us, her book is entitled Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough.

In case you joined us late or would like to share this show with people in your life, I’d like to remind you that today’s show will be archived and available as a podcast on Intersections Match’s website, which is www.IntersectionsMatch.com. I can be reached at jasbina@intersectionsmatch.com.

I appreciate you hanging out with us. Email me with topics that you’d like discussed in future shows. Make sure to join us for next month’s show on Sunday, June 20th at 7:00 PM Eastern. We’ll be speaking with relationship expert Catherine Cardinal, author of Men to Run From: So You Can Find the Right One to Run to. Goodbye everyone.


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