Single men have defenses planned, should their girlfriends cite actor George Clooney's engagement as a reason, they, too, should tie the knot.
Mirlind Gashi, a midtown waiter has a girlfriend who "really wants to get married" but he doesn't feel ready: "I'm not interested in getting married: No! No! No!" he exclaimed. Should his inamorata point out that since the mightiest oak in the single-man forest has fallen and he, too, may be ready for logging, he has his counter-argument honed: Clooney, he points out "is 52. I'm 32: Give me 20 years!"
Clooney -- who was married to actress Talia Balsam from 1989 to 1993 -- is ready to try again with human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin, 36, because "he's definitely financially settled," explained Teo Johnson, a personal trainer who lives in Bergenfield, N.J. but who does not feel as financially settled. Johnson has a reason prepared to not take the plunge, based on another story in the news. "If you get married too early, you could wind up like (Clippers owner, 80-year-old Donald) Sterling: With a wife AND a girlfriend," joked Johnson, who is 46.
While some NYC women may be spurred to get a ring on it, now that the world's most famous playboy is leaving the singles team, his upcoming nuptials are unlikely to result in the needling and nagging that followed revelations about other high profile bachelors joining the kingdom of the coupled, said experts.
"There's much less pressure to get married now," than there was in 1992, when womanizing Warren Beatty married Annette Bening or even in 1996, when John F. Kennedy Jr. (who, like Clooney, had been dubbed by People magazine as "the sexiest man alive"), married Carolyn Bessette, said Manhattan psychotherapist and relationship specialist Lisa Brateman.
With marriage rates at historic lows, there is much greater social acceptance of cohabitation and casual partnerships than there was in the 1990s, and an increasing aversion to the costs and horrors of divorce. This applies double in free-thinking NYC, where it is increasingly difficult for family-minded couples to get a purchase on the economic soil and housing hassles abound. Too, the advent and popularization of online dating (there's always somebody else!) has taken the pressure off many singles to make their current liaison permanent, said Brateman.
That's not to say that Clooney's upcoming nuptials to Alamuddin, 36, a human rights lawyer of Lebanese descent based in England, don't incite envy in many NYC women who are as career obsessed as NYC's men, and would love to ally themselves with someone of Clooney's stature and wealth, said Brateman.
But Clooney -- who has relationally grazed on enviably lush pastures around the world - signaling that he is ready to hang up his hat may influence fence sitters, said some pundits. His engagement may have "'a halo effect,' meaning that other commitment resistant men will be influenced by the power of his celebrity to commit to their partners," as NYC-based marriage therapist Paul Hokemeyer explained.
"A lot of guys need a catalyst and this is a good catalyst," to commit, said Arthur Malov, a senior dating coach for newyorkdatingcoach.com. Clooney's highly publicized engagement "is definitely going to be a huge pull lever for women who want to get a guy to commit," Malov said.
What is perhaps most shocking about the public response to Clooney's engagement, which has been hashtagged with everything from "hell freezes over" to "when pigs fly" on Twitter, is the vitriol expressed towards his bride-to-be on social media and in web commentary. Snipers have cruelly impugned Alamuddin's appearance and ethnic origins as well as sniffed that Clooney is unlikely to be faithful.
"The ... cattiness is based on comparing this person to themselves: It's neuroses times two," Brateman said of the detractors.
Clooney fans - many of them older women already resentful about the increased options men have in the dating world - are also grieving because they feel they can no longer fantasize about the star now that he is officially "taken," Brateman explained.
Men aren't as likely to slam a man about to marry an unattainable star they fantasize about because they're not fantasizing about marrying her, but having sex with her.
Women, however, "are more relationally inclined," and imagining marriage and commitment, Brateman said.