Settling

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on May 1, 2008

Several years ago I was at a weekend church retreat for 20something singles up in the Big Bear area. One of the church's pastors gave a talk that I've long forgotten the details of, but not the larger point: He encouraged the women in the group "not to settle" when it came to choosing a life mate.

I'm sure there was a heck of a lot more nuance to the presentation, but that admonition was what struck me then and sticks with me now. In fact, I walked up to the pastor afterwards and chided him for making life more difficult for at least half of the guys in the room -- including me.

For the vast majority of men -- in that room and in the wider world -- we are no woman's idea of a knight in shining armor. If she even hopes for one minute that all of the romantic comedies in the theaters and the sitcoms on TV hold the slightest glimmer of truth, then she's eventually going to have to settle.

Which brings us to this article by Lori Gottleib entitled, appropriately: "Marry Him! The case for settling for Mr. Good Enough." (There's a separate Q&A on the article here for those who are interested.)

What they understood is this: as your priorities change from romance to family, the so-called “deal breakers” change. Some guys aren’t worldly, but they’d make great dads. Or you walk into a room and start talking to this person who is 5'4" and has an unfortunate nose, but he “gets” you. My long-married friend Renée offered this dating advice to me in an e-mail:

I would say even if he’s not the love of your life, make sure he’s someone you respect intellectually, makes you laugh, appreciates you … I bet there are plenty of these men in the older, overweight, and bald category (which they all eventually become anyway).

She wasn’t joking.

A number of my single women friends admit (in hushed voices and after I swear I won’t use their real names here) that they’d readily settle now but wouldn’t have 10 years ago. They believe that part of the problem is that we grew up idealizing marriage—and that if we’d had a more realistic understanding of its cold, hard benefits, we might have done things differently. Instead, we grew up thinking that marriage meant feeling some kind of divine spark, and so we walked away from uninspiring relationships that might have made us happy in the context of a family.

All marriages, of course, involve compromise, but where’s the cutoff? Where’s the line between compromising and settling, and at what age does that line seem to fade away? Choosing to spend your life with a guy who doesn’t delight in the small things in life might be considered settling at 30, but not at 35. 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 encourage you to read the entire article. While the subject as a whole is a downer, I take a little solace in the fact that -- and I think Gottleib is right about this -- my prospects get better with each passing year. (That, of course, assumes that my work schedule would change to accomodate a social life.)

0 comments on “Settling”

  1. The article and your interpretation of it remind me of a conversation I had with a couple of single buddies at lunch one day. This traditionally smokin' hot blonde walked in to the restaurant and my buddies started talking about getting a girl like that.

    The conversation went a bit like this:

    ME: "You can get a girl like that!"
    BUDDY1: "You're insane, no girl like that is going to date me!"
    ME: "That's true, no girl like that is going to date you like you are right now. And the bigger problem is you don't want that girl (pointing to smokin' hot blonde). You don't want a girl who wants the latest hand bag, who definitely works out at the gym, gets a manicure every two weeks, has a shoe fetish, takes care of her skin, likes to be seen at 'events' and wants to be driven around in a really nice car. That's all part of (smokin' hot blonde's) package. That purse (a Burberry) is over $400. Are you willing to buy a girl one? No? Why not?" This, of course, got a couple of not so pleasant looks. "The problem is that we are just as guilty of snobbery as she probably is. You really want *that* girl? Fine, quit driving your busted jalopy of a Camry and go buy a car she wants to be seen in. You can get a used BMW 850il down the street for about $19k and when it was new, that was a $100k car. Go buy that as step one of get the smokin' hot blonde strategy. Step two, don't have pictures of Japanese animation on the walls in your apartment, in fact, just get a new apartment and get nice furniture to go in it. Get the things that will appeal to her, not you. Step three, get in shape. She looks GOOD! Why is she going to settle for someone who looks like they rolled out of bed into the couch every day? Step 4, better step up the wardrobe just a bit. The JC Penney polyester shirts ain't going to cut it. You need some Dolce and Gabanna, some Gucci, etc."
    Buddy2: "Don, stop right now, you know that ain't happenin'! Buddy1 is WAY too tight with that wallet to drop that kind of cash"
    ME: "Exactly my point. We sit and point at the smokin' hot blondes and lament that we can't have 'em. But we ignore the girls out there that don't mind a guy who plays video games, wants to watch geek movies, doesn't hit the gym every day and can't be bothered knowing Missoni from Moschino. You know why we ignore them? Because we have higher standards than the homely girl that plays video games and makes us laugh. The truth is, we wouldn't settle for a girl that would accept us for who we are, 'cause who'd want to settle for someone that would settle for so little?"

    Needless to say, neither of my friends were very happy with me. The issue is that we want someone that sets higher standards for themselves than we set for ourselves in most cases. And when we are truly honest with who we are, and happy with that person, we should start looking for someone who meets the same requirements, has the same interests, and meets the same grooming standards...

Tags

@ZebraFactCheck @PolitiFactBias The majority of posts I saw talking about the 1% were noting the accurate 40% stat. It's telling PolitiFact went searching for the claim they could swat down as "false," rather than fact-checking the accurate claim as "true." Reminds me of this exchange https://twitter.com/fact_meta/status/1431378857798488068

MetaFactGroup@fact_meta

@kentorianu @ZebraFactCheck @PolitiFact Since there's concern about bad faith arguments, I'll make it simple.

Vaccinated people can spread variants. True or False?

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