I’m not sure what I think about this article by Lori Gottlieb, but it touches on some things I’ve been thinking about recently. As a guy, the pressure on me to “settle” is much lower than it is on a woman who wants to have children. Even so, I’ve been much happier when I’ve been in a relationship.
However, I also want to find the best mate that I can. This has caused me to end relationships with good women, who, for one reason or another, I thought weren’t right for me. And given the prospect of pain from future breakups, I’ve been quite reluctant to make the effort to enter into additional relationships, unless it is with someone with whom I think I could spend the rest of my life. As a result, I often feel lonely.
I’m not sure what the right tradeoff is.
By the time 35th-birthday-brunch celebrations roll around for still-single women, serious, irreversible life issues masquerading as “jokes” creep into public conversation: Well, I don’t feel old, but my eggs sure do! or Maybe this year I’ll marry Todd. I’m not getting any younger! The birthday girl smiles a bit too widely as she delivers these lines, and everyone laughs a little too hard for a little too long, not because we find these sentiments funny, but because we’re awkwardly acknowledging how unfunny they are. At their core, they pose one of the most complicated, painful, and pervasive dilemmas many single women are forced to grapple with nowadays: Is it better to be alone, or to settle?
My advice is this: Settle! That’s right. Don’t worry about passion or intense connection. Don’t nix a guy based on his annoying habit of yelling “Bravo!” in movie theaters. Overlook his halitosis or abysmal sense of aesthetics. Because if you want to have the infrastructure in place to have a family, settling is the way to go. Based on my observations, in fact, settling will probably make you happier in the long run, since many of those who marry with great expectations become more disillusioned with each passing year. (It’s hard to maintain that level of zing when the conversation morphs into discussions about who’s changing the diapers or balancing the checkbook.)