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Author Topic: Mr. Good Enough
the_Somalian
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Interesting essay in The Atlantic Monthly tells women to settle.

Longish.

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kmbboots
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I understand the "panic" and I don't need zing, but "settling" is not possible for me. Men for who I could have settled, annoy me to the point of being cruel if I have to spend to much time with them. They get on my nerves and it would be painful for both of us.

Much better off on my own than being cruel to a husband and turning into that kind of shrew.

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BannaOj
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It does give food for thought. I've got a couple of friends who are getting older that probably would have been happier if they "settled" for the guy they broke up with in college.
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ElJay
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quote:
Oh, I know—I’m guessing there are single 30-year-old women reading this right now who will be writing letters to the editor to say that the women I know aren’t widely representative, that I’ve been co-opted by the cult of the feminist backlash, and basically, that I have no idea what I’m talking about. And all I can say is, if you say you’re not worried, either you’re in denial or you’re lying. In fact, take a good look in the mirror and try to convince yourself that you’re not worried, because you’ll see how silly your face looks when you’re being disingenuous.
F-you too, lady.

Her entire argument is based on the assumption that all women want to have children, and if you don't "settle" when you're young you end up panicking because your biological clock is running out. I'm 34, I'm not married, and I have nothing to worry about, be in denial over, or lie about. I know that many women do want children, and for those women there may come a point where they do have to make that choice. But it is not a universal thing, and when I turn 35 this year no one is going to be making jack-ass jokes about stale eggs at a birthday brunch.

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Eaquae Legit
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I think that article heads too far in the opposite direction. I'm not a believer in "true love," and I expect fights and sulks and hard times. Living with another person for any length of time means friction, and that's just life. It's not always going to be romantic.

But at the same time, I see marriage as a life-long thing. For religious reasons, I only get one shot at it, and I'm going to make darn sure the guy I marry is one I can stand living with for 60 years. Some things are "deal breakers" and I am not going to "settle" for someone who doesn't meet up to the "deal breaker" criteria. I try to recognise what is important (a similar view of marriage, for example) from what is merely irritating (a habit of leaving the toilet seat up). Small things I can settle on, and I expect to, because no one is going to be My Perfect Fairy-Tale Prince. Big things? Those are too important.

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The Rabbit
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The whole "settling" idea bothers me. Settling for something less than you really wanted is what you do when your shopping for a new car or an evening gown.

A relationship isn't about what either person brings to it, it is about how two people interact with each other. People who are still looking for Mr. Right or who are thinking of settling for Mr Good Enough don't seem to have grasped that idea.

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Olivet
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Eljay and EL-- Good on yer!

Nothing annoys me more than being told how I'm supposed to feel about anything. (Even though I know I'm not in the target audience, I know.)

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The Pixiest
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Wow.. such venom...

How many of you have had true loneliness that you were sure would last the rest of your days? How many of you are... less than attractive, reclusive and shy?

Back in my mid 20s I would have happily settled for the man I was with. I loved him, but he would never have been a provider. He was also immature, had a lousy job, and to this day still owes me half-the-rent money I'll never see. He ended up dumping me.

I'm *very* lucky to, not only have found someone to love (who loves me back!), but someone much better than the one I had back then. If it weren't for an unlikely series of circumstances, I never would have met him and I would probably still be alone today.

Biological clock aside, the idea of passing the midpoint of my life and sinking into old age all alone was horrible. After a certain point, any looks we might have had go away and if we don't have a man by then we're unlikely to have one at all.

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Synesthesia
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I've only read part of the first page, but I'm turning thirty in August.
Does that mean I should be running around screaming OH NO I DON'T HAVE A HUSBAND, YOU DON'T HAVE A RING! MARRY ME!???
Somehow I don't think that will be very attractive to men.
I would like a man, but it has to be the right one who shares my values. You just can't base stuff like this on television shows. And the idea of marriage as a small non profit company. Depressing.
I hate articles like this. That article was so stupid! Why would you want to marry a person just to have kids with them if you don't truly care about them?
I don't mean the violins playing mushy gushy stuff that dies in the face of reality. I mean seeing a person you're married to as not just someone you see a few hours a day because you're both working 12 hours and don't have common ground.
Urg. It annoyed me so much. Plus she's not even taking her own advice! Why would you even consider marrying a man who is fascinated with terrorism and is rude to waitresses? ARG!

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BannaOj
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It's interesting that so many people that I identify with very closely (for example I have no desire whatsoever to have kids) reacted so much the opposite direction from me.

Maybe I read it through too lax a filter I guess I always take the stuff about kids with plenty of grains of salt, basically go "does not apply, now what are they really saying."

What I took from it was that "nobody's perfect, so stop looking for Mr. Perfect".

Kind of like the old adage about if you find the perfect church, don't join.

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Synesthesia
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There's really no such thing as perfection anyway.
It's an illusion like normality.
But I hate the way these articles make marriage seem, and again, you just can't base your opinions on TELEVISION SHOWS!

Though that chick in Sex in the City should have stuck with Aidan. He was hot! What was she thinking! I would have stayed with him instead of boring silly Mr. Big.

Also that article depressed me. It's bad enough not to have a job, but to have pop culture tell you that you're turning 30 and you can forget about getting a man (or even a woman) you squishy shy pathetic thing just rubs some salt into my already gaping wounds.

Not what I need, as the world is so much more complex than these folks who write ditzy post feminist essays and articles realize.

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Swampjedi
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I think what the article is really saying is get rid of silly ideals. Some of those reasons for dumping boyfriends were pretty lame, if you ask me. Because he didn't like to read? That would be like me breaking up with someone because she didn't like video games. Shallow, IMO.

Personally, I have a list of things I won't compromise on - and it's actually very short (<10). I think that anything else is pretty negotiable.

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Godric 2.0
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Not only had you better settle for Mr. Good Enough if you've reached 30+ and are still single, you'd better move to France if you want to continue having a sex life after 50+.

I never knew it was so hard being a woman... [Angst]

[ February 11, 2008, 08:05 PM: Message edited by: Godric 2.0 ]

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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by The Pixiest:
Wow.. such venom...

How many of you have had true loneliness that you were sure would last the rest of your days? How many of you are... less than attractive, reclusive and shy?


Probably quite a few of us. Certainly me. (Maybe not reclusive, but certainly less than attractive.) And being alone can be scary and sad. Being with the wrong person is even scarier.
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Synesthesia
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I'd rather be alone with a house full of rabbits than be with the wrong person. Heck, I'd take a crappy job over being with the wrong man.
I'm so irratable and fed up with all of these ridiculous ideas about everything. Nothing has to be like all these so-called experts and article writers say it will.
When I turn 30 it's my opportunity to live life the way I want to free of these ridiculous illusions. I will not whine or bemoan things or behave like some broad in a so-called romantic comedy (Dood, both of those guys in Broadcast news were jerks! That's why I hate that movie so much.)
I'm going to make up my mind to be whole and fullfilled regardless of whether or not I have a man. When it happens, it happens.

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The Flying Dracula Hair
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The whole "deal breaker" idea bothers me. The fact that I could be going out with someone who'll just turn off because I did one of their secret no-nos gives me a gross feeling. Or maybe I misunderstand the idea of the Deal Breaker.

oop, latepost

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The Pixiest
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A "Good Enough" guy is very different from "The Wrong Person." I believe that was the point of the article and mine as well.

Boots: I have no idea what you look like, but you're one of the most beautiful people I know.

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Synesthesia
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quote:
Originally posted by The Flying Dracula Hair:
The whole "deal breaker" idea bothers me. The fact that I could be going out with someone who'll just turn off because I did one of their secret no-nos gives me a gross feeling. Or maybe I misunderstand the idea of the Deal Breaker.

oop, latepost

I don't care if someone has a bad habit. I have some of the worse ones. The deal breaker for me is someone who is not on the same page as me when it comes to disciplining children, or someone who is a jerk or is rude. I don't care about all of that other stuff.

It's just the way this woman presents marriage... it's one of the things that is getting under my skin making me feel so cranky and fed up with everything.

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ketchupqueen
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I dunno.

I think if you don't think the guy is not only Good Enough but The One Who Will Make You Happy, you're selling yourself short. Yes, everyone has faults. But if you don't see the faults as unimportant, then maybe he's really NOT Good Enough. Know what I mean? It's kind of hard to explain. I don't subscribe to the idea that there is One True Love out there for everyone; I think that some marriages forged more out of mutual support, friendship and appreciation than love are probably more stable than some that were choices made in the heat of love and desire and passion and adoration. But if you never come to the point with a person where you think something like, "I don't love that he does this-- but I love that he tries not to do it around me", maybe you shouldn't be with that person. I think both kmb and EL have excellent points. It is better not to put yourself in a position where you will be miserable than to "get over" a "silly" reason for not being with someone.

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MightyCow
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Flying Dracula Hair>

From my experience working in a dating service, I can tell you that having "deal breakers" is generally a very good idea. Of course, they should be reasonable if you want to be successful.

If, for example, being a member of your chosen religion is vitally important to you, it would be a waste of your time and the other person's time to date someone of another faith who has no interest in converting. That would be a great deal breaker, because no matter how great the person is otherwise, you won't be able to have a fulfilling relationship with them.

If someone is OCD clean, a sloppy person might be a deal breaker. No matter how much you enjoy spending time with them, you'd go crazy living together - better not to try to force a relationship that won't work.

Of course, compromise is important, and you should be willing to make compromises if you want to have a functioning relationship, but there are some things people can't or won't compromise on, so it's better to be honest with yourself and your potential mates about them up front.

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ElJay
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Pixiest, my reaction was to the idea that every woman who doesn't want exactly what the author wants out of life is either in denial or lying. Different things are more or less important to different people. Obviously, not being alone as you grow old is important to you. It's not so much important to me. And the author's reasons for saying women should settle are even less important to me. The idea that I'm being disingenuous to say that is insulting. I'm a different person than she is or you are, and want different things. Counseling someone to settle young if kids are very important to them or if not growing old alone is very important to them is very different from saying that any woman who is over 30 and doesn't admit they're worried about their "prospects" is lying or in denial. That's bull.
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Shigosei
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xkcd on dating pools
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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by Eaquae Legit:
I think that article heads too far in the opposite direction. I'm not a believer in "true love," and I expect fights and sulks and hard times. Living with another person for any length of time means friction, and that's just life. It's not always going to be romantic.

But at the same time, I see marriage as a life-long thing. For religious reasons, I only get one shot at it, and I'm going to make darn sure the guy I marry is one I can stand living with for 60 years. Some things are "deal breakers" and I am not going to "settle" for someone who doesn't meet up to the "deal breaker" criteria. I try to recognise what is important (a similar view of marriage, for example) from what is merely irritating (a habit of leaving the toilet seat up). Small things I can settle on, and I expect to, because no one is going to be My Perfect Fairy-Tale Prince. Big things? Those are too important.

Amen. I agree with the article on Aidan v. Big (but not on Barry v. Ross -- Barry was a cheating sleaze, and Rachel didn't even like him that much). But that's not because I'm a proponent of settling. I'm a proponent of having reasonable and realistic criteria (and zing is not one of them) and sticking with them -- unless and until you realize they are not reasonable and realistic.

quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
And being alone can be scary and sad. Being with the wrong person is even scarier.

Very, very true.
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pooka
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At the big Mormon meeting on saturday they had a bit where they encouraged people to let go of their checklist of expectations, and their fear of end-of-days tribulations and look again a getting married. Though someone was quck to point out that doesn't mean "settle".

It also reminds me of a saying, "expectations are pre-meditated resentments."

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Synesthesia
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She sounds like those ditzy Rules Broads.
There's no way I'd take their advice. Most of it is so.... obnoxious and sounds like How to Attract a Man Lynn Will Not Like who Will Frustrate Her and Annoy her.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
When I turn 30 it's my opportunity to live life the way I want to free of these ridiculous illusions.
It's already your opportunity.
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Synesthesia
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
When I turn 30 it's my opportunity to live life the way I want to free of these ridiculous illusions.
It's already your opportunity.
I reckon. But 30 is that OMG!!!!!!!! I'M THIRDY OHHHH NOS! Sort of age.

Also it would be nice to have some LOOT.
Or even a lute.

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sylvrdragon
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I'd love to see a thread like this one directed at guys. It would have about 4 replies. 3 of them would go:

quote:
I don't know... maybe...
and the last would be:

quote:
BACHELOR LIFE RULES!!! [Party]
[The Wave]
WO0O0O0O0O0O!!!!


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Swampjedi
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MightyCow, that's exactly my take on it. I know myself well enough to know that some characteristics just will not work with me. It's not worth hurting myself or someone else by even trying.

Many of the people my age (mid 20s) that I speak with have no idea what is important to them in a spouse. They go on this foggy notion of "rightness". Perhaps that has something to do with the divorce rate. Then again, I know many others who have these crazy unrealistic expectations like the author seems to talk about.

Here's for being realistic. I'm not perfect (or even close), so I would be silly to look for someone who is.

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TomDavidson
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I have to admit: I cannot imagine this conversation happening among men. We'd all go, "Yeah, we settle. But they're still pretty good, aren't they?" And that would pretty much be the end of it.
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Eaquae Legit
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quote:
Originally posted by The Flying Dracula Hair:
The whole "deal breaker" idea bothers me. The fact that I could be going out with someone who'll just turn off because I did one of their secret no-nos gives me a gross feeling. Or maybe I misunderstand the idea of the Deal Breaker.

I'm very up-front about these things.

- He must view marriage as a sacred commitment, something inviolable. If it's a casual thing to him, I risk ruining my whole life. I won't do that to myself.
- He must want children. I do, and the tension such a disagreement would cause would make us both utterly miserable. We'd both be better off with other people.
- He must respect and support me in my faith. Sharing it is best, though not 100% required. However, I have dated outside my own faith before, and it was agony, no matter how much I cared for the men involved.
- When we're together, he has to be strong enough to stand up to me. I want neither to dominate nor be dominated - I want an equal. If I'm in the wrong, I want to be told. If I'm in the right, I want to be respected.

It's not some sort of esoteric checklist. I know myself, and I know how I act in different relationships. I know some things that just set me up to fail. Why should I put myself through that? Why should I put him through that? I'm in it for life, and if I compromised on these things, I would end up hating myself and hating him.

I'd rather wait then see that happen. I should also note that I probably wouldn't even give off those subconscious "I'm dateable" vibes if I didn't have a strong suspicion he met all of the above. I'm not into playing games, either.

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bluenessuno
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Cindy Guidry reminds me of Cynthia Heimel: smart, funny and sincere. There are no location changes or prayer beads like Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love. Yes, this is a book recommendation and it's on topic.

vote NO on "Settling."

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The Flying Dracula Hair
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Sorry if anyone thought I was targeting them, I let the post idle, started it after The Rabbit's.
In response to the responses, these are all such great points, though what they also are too good of examples. I'm speaking out more against the 'esoteric checklist' rather than traits which truly invalidate someone as an option. More of the things the woman in the article was talking about to overlook ("Bravo!" in the theatre, etc.) which is an attitude I frequently encounter.

But I did misunderstand the idea of it, because I never gave thought to the ones people of pointed out and why they should be there. I'm glad people here have very sensible standards.

And yeah, the whole Love Is Over after 30 thing is goofy.

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bluenessuno
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"They, like me, would rather feel alone in a marriage than actually be alone, because they, like me, realize that marriage ultimately isn’t about cosmic connection—it’s about how having a teammate, even if he’s not the love of your life, is better than not having one at all."
Is this not a contradiction? Being alone in a marriage is not 'having a teammate.' Something to note: she admits she can't wholly settle herself, she won't accept 'damaged goods' as her son has changed the settling terms/expectations.
Cindy Guidry went through the intense 'ticking clock' phase and then found herself leaving that phase; it was not an unending tunnel of obessession. Cindy is a year older than Lori Gottlieb.

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ReikoDemosthenes
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I find it odd how the writer seems to assume that everyone expects and desires life-long, fiery passion with That Perfect Man (TM). It reminds me of the song "Coin Operated Boy" by the Dresden Dolls.
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katharina
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I read and HATED that article.

That story arose because she's feeling overwhelmed as a completely single mother when her child is less than a year old. Her "support" for her premise consists of talking to friends and speculating about what they want.

The proof that it's better to settle is because her mildly discontent friends don't abandon their families? For crying out loud.

I say this as somone who has TRIED to settle. Dagnabbit, I even TRIED to. I started crying all the time. I fantasized about getting into a car accidents. I wanted to send a stunt double to the wedding. When I say that I'd rather be single for the rest of my life (and probably will be, I swear) than settle, this is a very informed statement.

Her sentence that bothered me the most was that it is better to be alone in a marriage than alone by yourself. No, it really isn't. I've felt alone in a relationship before, and that's the only time I seriously fantasized about suicide. I've been lonely by myself several times before (including a little bit right now), and the difference between the two is hope. And the ability to date other people, which is fun. There is hope when you're single - there's no hope when you're unhappily married. Oh my stars.

I'm in my thirties and not getting married in the forseeable future, and sure I want kids. Not at any price, though - not at the price of losing my self-respect and living a lie.

-----

To be clear, I am not talking about refusing to accept anyone that doesn't match an exhaustive checklist. What I want is not the perfect guy but someone with whom I am as happy and comfortable when I'm around him as I am when I'm alone (that's pretty happy) and whom I trust and respect.

Settling would be marrying someone about whom that is not true, and I would literally rather die. It's not worth it.

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kmbboots
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Thanks, Pixiest. I think you are pretty swell, too. But when it comes to attracting possible mates, I am at somewhat of a disadvantage. The people who can see the "attractive" in me are pretty darn discerning. I treasure them.

I think that my problem is with the terms "settle" and "good enough". I do not need to be swept of my feet by Mr. Perfect; I outgrew that in my teens. I would be delighted and grateful and consider myself blessed to find a partner whose company I liked more than my own. That would not be "settling" for me. "Settling" has a "well, I'm disappointed, but terrified of being alone so I suppose you'll do" kind of feel to it. I don't want to be the kind of person I would become if I were disappointed in my partner. I certainly wouldn't want someone "settling" for me either.

Does that make sense?

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katharina
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I had an ex-fiance once tell me - almost a decade ago now - that because of my obvious failings of not being able to sing and spiritual weakness as evidenced by calling myself a feminist, he was settling for me. He was willing to do it, but he wanted to make sure I knew.

That the kind of guy this woman thinks I regret not marrying? That guy?

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Synesthesia
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Yeah! I totally agree! That is what I want too.

quote:
Originally posted by katharina:
I read and HATED that article.

That story arose because she's feeling overwhelmed as a completely single mother when her child is less than a year old. Her "support" for her premise consists of talking to friends and speculating about what they want.

The proof that it's better to settle is because her mildly discontent friends don't abandon their families? For crying out loud.

I say this as somone who has TRIED to settle. Dagnabbit, I even TRIED to. I started crying all the time. I fantasized about getting into a car accidents. I wanted to send a stunt double to the wedding. When I say that I'd rather be single for the rest of my life (and probably will be, I swear) than settle, this is a very informed statement.

Her sentence that bothered me the most was that it is better to be alone in a marriage than alone by yourself. No, it really isn't. I've felt alone in a relationship before, and that's the only time I seriously fantasized about suicide. I've been lonely by myself several times before (including a little bit right now), and the difference between the two is hope. And the ability to date other people, which is fun. There is hope when you're single - there's no hope when you're unhappily married. Oh my stars.

I'm in my thirties and not getting married in the forseeable future, and sure I want kids. Not at any price, though - not at the price of losing my self-respect and living a lie.

-----

To be clear, I am not talking about refusing to accept anyone that doesn't match an exhaustive checklist. What I want is not the perfect guy but someone with whom I am as happy and comfortable when I'm around him as I am when I'm alone (that's pretty happy) and whom I trust and respect.

Settling would be marrying someone about whom that is not true, and I would literally rather die. It's not worth it.


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Rakeesh
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quote:
I have to admit: I cannot imagine this conversation happening among men. We'd all go, "Yeah, we settle. But they're still pretty good, aren't they?" And that would pretty much be the end of it.
That's been true for me too, Tom, and for my guy friends whose love lives I know about at least.

To me the idea of not settling is much stranger than settling. Perhaps we are using different degrees of the word.

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pooka
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
I have to admit: I cannot imagine this conversation happening among men. We'd all go, "Yeah, we settle. But they're still pretty good, aren't they?" And that would pretty much be the end of it.

That's because men are weird. On the one hand, they think they are personally quite attractive despite any evidence to the contrary. On the other hand, they really don't require that a partner be quite attractive.

Women, on the other hand, feel themselves to be woefully imperfect but are looking for perfection in others.

I think it goes back to the pride (like a family of lions) structure where a female can only accept the alpha male. The male who is able to mate assumes himself to be the alpha male.

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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
On the one hand, they think they are personally quite attractive despite any evidence to the contrary.
Not in my experience.
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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
I think that my problem is with the terms "settle" and "good enough". I do not need to be swept of my feet by Mr. Perfect; I outgrew that in my teens. I would be delighted and grateful and consider myself blessed to find a partner whose company I liked more than my own. That would not be "settling" for me. "Settling" has a "well, I'm disappointed, but terrified of being alone so I suppose you'll do" kind of feel to it. I don't want to be the kind of person I would become if I were disappointed in my partner. I certainly wouldn't want someone "settling" for me either.

Does that make sense?

Totally.

I think there is a huge difference between realizing that no one is perfect and "settling." The first is a necessary part of growing up; the second is just plain sad.


pooka, I disagree completely with your post. IME, men are far more demanding of physical perfection in their mates than women -- on average, not necessarily in any given couple.

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Kwea
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quote:
Originally posted by Eaquae Legit:
I think that article heads too far in the opposite direction. I'm not a believer in "true love," and I expect fights and sulks and hard times. Living with another person for any length of time means friction, and that's just life. It's not always going to be romantic.

But at the same time, I see marriage as a life-long thing. For religious reasons, I only get one shot at it, and I'm going to make darn sure the guy I marry is one I can stand living with for 60 years. Some things are "deal breakers" and I am not going to "settle" for someone who doesn't meet up to the "deal breaker" criteria. I try to recognise what is important (a similar view of marriage, for example) from what is merely irritating (a habit of leaving the toilet seat up). Small things I can settle on, and I expect to, because no one is going to be My Perfect Fairy-Tale Prince. Big things? Those are too important.

Amen, but from a male perspective.
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MightyCow
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rivka: I would say that perhaps men are attracted to physical aspects strongly, but at the same time, for the whole range of men, what makes a woman "attractive" includes a huge range. While there is obviously a stereotypical ideal of feminine beauty within each culture, most guys have a pretty wide range of what they consider "hot."

I've heard many times, and I believe it to be true for the most part, that what women think men want and what men actually want are often quite different.

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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by MightyCow:
what makes a woman "attractive" includes a huge range. While there is obviously a stereotypical ideal of feminine beauty within each culture, most guys have a pretty wide range of what they consider "hot."

Certainly.

quote:
Originally posted by MightyCow:
I've heard many times, and I believe it to be true for the most part, that what women think men want and what men actually want are often quite different.

Likely so.
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scholar
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I think this article is more aimed at women who think staying with someone who isn't perfect is settling. It seems somewhat immature, but there are a lot of women who are waiting for "the one." They have hyped it up so much, that no one will ever be Mr. Right.
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pooka
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quote:
pooka, I disagree completely with your post. IME, men are far more demanding of physical perfection in their mates than women -- on average, not necessarily in any given couple.
Oh, women doen't need physical perfection. They just want a hunky guy who is psychologically like their best girlfriend. At least, they want different traits at different times.
I found the author's assumption that long married couples hardly ever have sex anyway to be humorous. I don't think I've read much beyond that statement, to be honest.

P.S. My statement on men's self evaluation is largely based on a column Dave Barry wrote about his wife's insecurity about her appearance.

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katharina
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Don't married people have considerably more sex than unmarried people?

I think "sex stops when you get married" is one those prevelant myths.

That's my biggest problem with the article - there's no research beyond talking to married friends, no attempt to synthesize some history, no homework done, basically. It's a blog post disguised as a serious article. It should have been half the length and on the back two pages of a fluffier magazine.

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pooka
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Well, I did see a separate article yesterday that said that about 40 million people are in "sexless marriages" defined as less than 10 episodes per year, and it discussed a list of reasons that mostly had to do with mood disorders, obsessions with other hobbies and some with body issues.
link, probably PG.

But as near as I can tell, thats about 1/3 of the married people in the U.S.

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