?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Marry Him! The case for settling for Mr. Good Enough - Open Knowledge — LiveJournal

Feb. 10th, 2008

03:36 am - Marry Him! The case for settling for Mr. Good Enough

Previous Entry Share Next Entry

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.)

Original: craschworks - comments

Comments:

[User Picture]
From:kittles
Date:February 10th, 2008 10:42 am (UTC)
(Link)
I read that article earlier today and it made me so freaking depressed.

I have been in relationships where, had I stayed with the guy, it would have been "settling." I have also been alone. Being alone is far preferable to me than settling. But now, having the relationship I have with John, I could never, ever settle if something ever happened to him. I would end up eating a bullet or something because I KNOW what having a true equal partner who loves you implicitly in a relationship full of passion and sharing is like, and there is no substitute.

That chick doesn't want a life partner - she wants an in-house nanny who happens to have a penis and a weekly paycheck to help her have the night off from single mom child-rearing, which has not turned out to be the lovely fantasy life she thought it would be. She made bad choices and thinks it's because she had warped standards for selecting a partner instead of just realizing she made bad choices and is now having to live with them.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:crasch
Date:February 10th, 2008 11:13 am (UTC)
(Link)
The relationship you have with John is one of the models I use to judge whether I should stay in a relationship or not. I also admire the relationships that evelynne and Poindexter, and fishsupreme and sheeplass seem to have.

One of the common factors in the successful relationships I know seems to be shared values. For example, my impression is that while you don't have the same level of enthusiasm for preparedness that John does, you support it in principle, and you both work together to build up your stores.

Whereas in my last relationship, my girlfriend made fun of my desire to have a years supply of food, stating that I was "still a Mormon." Being prepared in that fashion wasn't something that she seemed to value much.

We didn't break up over that issue alone, but the combination of other such mismatches made us decide that we weren't right together long term.

However, I think that one be too picky as well, and I worry that I'm insisting on too much compatibility with respect to issues that, in the long run, aren't that important.

For example, I'm not religious, and I don't see that changing. Therefore, I've typically written off women who were religious. But you and John seem to have a very successful relationship despite disparities in religious beliefs. (At least, I think you have disparities--neither of you talk about it much.) So I wonder if I'm being too picky in that regard.

Edited at 2008-02-10 12:25 pm (UTC)
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread) (Expand)
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:aldoushuxley
Date:February 10th, 2008 11:02 am (UTC)
(Link)
I am glad I am not a sperm donor child.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:jaine_parr
Date:February 10th, 2008 12:55 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I don't think that 'settle' is the correct term. Redefining the Perfect Mate would be more correct. You aren't gonna find perfection. What you need to find is a match where the really important things are right. I knew what I needed in a mate. When I found that, I pounced and I'm quite happy. I didn't 'settle'. One of my criteria was the ability to go looking for a work-around when we didn't mesh. If we can find a work-around, it doesn't matter that we aren't perfectly meshed.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:crasch
Date:February 10th, 2008 02:21 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I like your "work-around" criteria. What were the other really important things for you?
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread) (Expand)
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:crasch
Date:February 12th, 2008 07:55 am (UTC)
(Link)
And, frankly, I wouldn't want someone I didn't love and respect immensely siring my childrenz.

Agreed. It's hard enough when the love and respect is there. (Not to mention that I want good DNA! :>)
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
From:hiro_antagonist
Date:February 10th, 2008 02:38 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I'm sure there's some great math where one could show the decreasing availability of suitable partners as time increases.

I think the trick is to find someone you can be happy with for as long as you both live, then going from there. All else is rather secondary. (of course figuring that out is far easier said than done).
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:crasch
Date:February 12th, 2008 08:22 am (UTC)
(Link)
Indeed there is:

http://crasch.livejournal.com/658702.html?thread=3528718#t3528718
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread) (Expand)
[User Picture]
From:pasquin
Date:February 10th, 2008 02:39 pm (UTC)

My motto

(Link)
Never surrender, never suck, never settle.

Regret, my friend, is FOREVER.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:crasch
Date:February 12th, 2008 07:57 am (UTC)

Re: My motto

(Link)
Regret, my friend, is FOREVER.

True. But what will you regret least?
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread) (Expand)
[User Picture]
From:herbaliser
Date:February 10th, 2008 03:44 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I accidentally fell in love four years ago with bipolar felon getting an English degree. I would never use the term "settling" to describe what happened. Granted, we both don't care about religion or kids, but we've both converted to other viewpoints of what's important to the other person. Well, maybe converted is too strong a word. Compromise doesn't have to hurt.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:crasch
Date:February 12th, 2008 07:59 am (UTC)
(Link)
Agreed.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:gentlemaitresse
Date:February 10th, 2008 03:56 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I think it's important to set priorities. To not look for Mr. Perfect, and to know which imperfections you can reasonably live with. This goes for men, too.

I see far too many unhappy single people who are hyper-critical of everyone the could or do date.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:crasch
Date:February 12th, 2008 08:21 am (UTC)
(Link)
Agreed!
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:olegvolk
Date:February 10th, 2008 04:49 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I am finding that the injunction "marry your best friend" makes sense. Practically, I found that "friend with benefits" doesn't require nearly the same compatibility as a marriage partner...the degree of compatibility needed to survive cohabitation seems impossibly high now that I've dealt with close relationships a couple of times.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:crasch
Date:February 12th, 2008 08:00 am (UTC)
(Link)
Yes, I think it's a good idea to marry your best friend if you can.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:istar
Date:February 10th, 2008 06:37 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I hope I don't get to the point where I think a loveless marriage would be soooo great. I'd prefer marriageless love.

The grass is always greener...
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:crasch
Date:February 12th, 2008 08:06 am (UTC)
(Link)
Yes. I wouldn't want a loveless marriage either. However, I think you can love other people to greater and lesser degrees. I've felt almost maddening passion for a few women, companionate love with others, and sometimes simple physical lust. For me, the question is whether it's best wait for the person who makes you fall head over heals, when you have the opportunity for comfortable companionate love with someone already.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:velellavelella
Date:February 10th, 2008 06:53 pm (UTC)
(Link)
"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 sorry. Perhaps you go into these relationships expecting too much. Maybe it's better not to jump into something with the reason that spending the rest of your life with them is something you can do immediately - your biggest reason for dating them.

I think a good relationship usually takes time and respect to develop. Every past relationship that was rushed (in my case) was a huge mistake. And if I started a relationship with a guy that could marry me right away - I was a little wary. Did they know me? The only conclusion I can draw is...., probably not. But you may have decided to date old and concrete friends. I guess this can be a bit strange too. But it is nothing I have ever tried - so I will not comment on it.

On being lonely - I was a hot commodity, so I have rarely been without at least a date - I just got sick of dating people and decided to try and abstain from this for a shocking six months. That was really hard to do. But I did it. And I am very happy and not lonely by myself. This is something to strive for, because I really believe that people who are lonely when they are alone - are more likely to be lonely when they are with others.

This doesn't mean that people don't have the power to alienate me and make me feel so different from the rest of the world that I wonder how many of my kind there are left... but I am shallow and quick to bounce back. Only the people I care about matter.

You sound like a good guy. I guess you can learn by trial and error - or trying new things and strategies - (not that you don't already) I don't know too much about your dating habits, so please don't take offense at any of the gentle and possibly not needed advice.



(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:crasch
Date:February 12th, 2008 08:16 am (UTC)
(Link)
Thanks for your comments!

I think a good relationship usually takes time and respect to develop.

I agree. I think it's important not to immediately jump into a marriage without getting to know the person well first.

This is something to strive for, because I really believe that people who are lonely when they are alone - are more likely to be lonely when they are with others.

I don't know about this. I think most of us are hardwired to feel a desire for companionship, touch, the security of mutual aid. Most people who spend long periods of time alone (such as arctic explorers, prisoners) report feelings of depression, anxiety, and madness.

That said, I don't think you necessarily need to get that companionship from a relationship. You can also get it from friends and family. So I think that it's important for a single person to make an effort to build and maintain those relationships.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
From:furfybird
Date:February 10th, 2008 08:49 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Yuck. I'm not even going to read that article, because I can already tell it would make me want to vomit. Settling is for quitters, or people who put more value on breeding and/or keeping up with the Jones' than they do on themselves.
And yet, to believe they are "settling" for someone implies a great deal of arrogance.
It reeks of imbalance and immaturity, and neither of those contribute to a sustainable relationship.
(Much less good parenting.)

I think that sometimes people make a conscious check-list of what they want in a partner, which is good for dating. And dating is good for learning in your heart and in your subconscious what really matters to you. The trick is not to put so much emphasis on that conscious check-list, that you exclude getting to know people who match your heart's checklist. (Because the Heart will always win.)

Have an open mind, don't be afraid to get your heart broken (that's how it learns what it needs,) and never settle.

Ugh,.."settle." It's such a dirty word to me. :P



(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:crasch
Date:February 12th, 2008 08:20 am (UTC)
(Link)
I agree that it's important to listen to what your gut/heart tells you. I think our brain has systems that are good at evaluating whether someone would be good for us, even if not at a conscious level.

And I agree, the word "settle" has ugly connotations. Perhaps satisfice would be better?
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:rah
Date:February 10th, 2008 08:50 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I've thought about this one a lot over the years. In my longest relationship I kept wondering if I was being too picky by wanting more out of it than she could give me (sounds selfish, and self-centered but according to her she was getting everything she wanted out of me). After all, she adored me, and I enjoyed my time with her for the most part. But something was still missing. It took me way too long to do so, but I ended it. And less than a year later I found what I was looking for all along and now that I know it's possible, I can't imagine the torture I would've put myself through by settling for "good enough."
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:crasch
Date:February 12th, 2008 08:21 am (UTC)
(Link)
Thanks for the data point! (And congrats on your success.)
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread) (Expand)
[User Picture]
From:kittles
Date:February 11th, 2008 09:00 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Hey, Rachel Lucas has a nice post on this too.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:crasch
Date:February 11th, 2008 11:00 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Thanks, Kit. That's a great article.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)