Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Wanderlust vs "Settling?"

As a happily married woman of 19 years, maybe it'll sound glib to comment, but I found it interesting and the author has a valid point. There's been a lot of ink spilled and blogs raging back and forth about Lori Gottlieb's book Settling: The Case for Settling for Mr Good Enough. I read her article in the Atlantic, heard her on NPR, and she wrote another article for the Washington Post. She says she gotten "flamed" and "inviscerated" for simply confessing she gets lonely to share companionship with a man and wishes she hadn't been so quick to write off potential partners in her 20s and 30s for not being "perfect"."Look for important qualities in a partner and let go of stuff that won't matter 5/10/20 years down the line, when you're more focused with child care and contented companionship than you are about height and hairlines." Sounds like a no-brainer to me.

According to a scientific survey, a majority of single women responding said if they only got 80 percent of what they wanted in a man, they'd be 'settling.' But the majority of single men interviewed said finding a woman with 80 percent of the qualities they wanted would make them 'a catch.' What's up with the discrepancy?

Women accused her of ageism, sexism, and being anti-feminist simply because she admitted she wanted to be married and regretted her earlier views that she believed one man should be "perfect." Because here's the thing. Every single person reading this post who is in a long-term relationship/partnership or marriage knows no one person is going to possess all the qualities you drum up in your head as the 'perfect' partner. And it's not fair of you to demand they do. Here's the other thing: she was never using the word 'settling' literally. Now that she's older - and wiser - and her choices have diminished, she's realized, I think, she was being unrealistic. And she'd be happier in a relationship where compatibility was emphasized over passions and sexual chemistry - not those qualities aren't important - but that they don't remain on the utmost top of the list.

I didn't find her 'desperate' or 'an affront to womanhood' for changing her perspective as she's matured. I think she was pretty brave to have the guts to suggest woman can't always 'have it all.' Because let's face it - no one can. Everyone, man or woman, is a 'package deal,' as she says, with many wonderful and desirable and also less-than-wonderful and desirable qualities. It's just not fair to anyone to expect them to meet all your standards of perfection. What a heavy and unrealistic burden. Find out what your absolute qualities are and what you can let slide. I've been married and divorced before Excy. When my step daughter married and then divorced within a year, I told her to take it slow in the next relationship; she now knew what her deal-breaker issues were. It's really too bad we had to learn them the hard way, but learn them we did.

I've known too many single friends in their 50s and 60s who have regretted leaving relationships or not giving a relationship a chance because they were unwilling to compromise on some pretty trivial things. One friend tossed men aside like used Kleenex if they made an ill-timed remark or she didn't like they way they dressed. (Did she not see When Harry Met Sally?)


She now concedes there were at least three men she feels she could have had a happy partnership with. Contrast this with a male friend who remarried in his late 50s, saying he realized he was getting more and more set in his ways and if he didn't go ahead and marry Ms. 'Almost Perfect,' he would be too 'fixed' to make concessions. A dear friend in her 80s, once told me that not getting married was like walking in a forest: I'd come across a splendid tree, and would admire it. But then I'd think, I'm sure I could find an even better tree, so I'd keep walking....and looking, and sometimes I would, but I always thought I could do better...and all the sudden I realize I was out of the forest and there weren't any more trees.

She sounded wistful and regretful. It sounded like a sad story to me. She lived a full life with good friends, a good job and adventure, but had her regrets. Who hasn't? Not 'settling' so to speak. Being mature enough to know when one person fits the most of your most basic requirements for love, companionship and happiness -- now that's someone to hang onto. Wow. I am so glad for Excy in my life. I'm going to hug him a little tighter tonight.

20 comments:

Matt-Man said...

I don't find her to saying settling either. Everyone has their faults, foilbles, and bad habits.

Sam Keen said it best...

"You come to love not by finding the perfect person, but by seeing an imperfect person perfectly."

Cheers Wye!!

wendy said...

Ok. I'll try again. I had a whole comment ready, and something happened that is disappeared.
There I "no mr. perfect" anyone looking for that is dissolusioned. wow
find someone who "matches your soul"
He WON'T be perfect
neither are you.
Adjust, compromise, forgive, "settle" that's not such a bad word. It's a growth together.

Whoever thinks there is a Mr. Perfect will miss a whole lot in life.

Julie said...

Is there really a match made in heaven? No not really, but there can be a match close to that with work and lots of love:) We all have imperfections and demanding that someone be perfect is crazy!!

I love the movie When Harry Met Sally!! It is one of my all time favorites:)

Jayne Martin said...

What a well-thought-out, well-written post. There were certainly a couple of men in my lifetime who could have been partners, had I pursued that. I just never found anyone I liked more than I liked me.

Anne said...

Exactly! Plus, when you've been with someone long enough, you're gonna have gone through many phases together. Sometimes you think things will never get better again, that its just not workiing anymore...until with time and a little efort, they are actually improved and better than they've ever been. As individuals, we grow and become more actualized and we do the same as couples.
So, if marrying someone I knew from the start was not perfect is settling...then I settled and I couldn't be happier after 28 years of marriage :)

Eva Gallant said...

She was on Dr. Phil today. I totally agree with her. None of us is perfect; we need to expect the important things like kindness and honesty and worry less about looks and bank account.

A 2 Z said...

A well written post! I guess we have to be in a relationship a long time to realize that its sometimes necessary to stop finding fault with the other person and perhaps start tweaking ourselves a bit. That's where I am now after 18 years. After being perfect for so many years (cough, cough)...and yes so many times I thought he was the problem and I should have married somebody else, I have come to realize that I was with Mr. Right after all. Is this wisdom, old age, maturity, divine intervention? I dont know. But my new viewpoint is healthier, less stressful, more loving and we are both much happier. Go figure after all these years....

zodiblog said...

I think that she is totally right, and this is coming from an incredibly good looking, athletic, hilarious (I could really go on and on..lol) guy. Our society has been brainwashed to label and pigeonhole everyone else based on their job title, income, social status, and many other seemingly important things. But I’ve learned from experience that if you take the time to get to know someone and give them half a chance, you will be pleasantly surprised.

How many men and women have sentenced themselves to loneliness because of societal snobbishness?

Dimes2Vines said...

So true, none of are perfect and it takes a lot of work for both parties. Spoken after being married to the same man for 25 yrs and still in love with him! Love is a choice.
Amy come on by, I have a surprise for you!

Leslie said...

Thank you for some food for thought today. I wrestle with this often. When I finally decided that I had met someone that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with in spite of the fact that he seemed to live to embarrass me on occasion, he up and died before we made it down the aisle. "The Bastard", said very Tongue In Cheek by the way. It wasn't settling, it was acknowledging that he was himself and I was myself and that we made each other happy for the main part. He would take me to Broadway shows and the ballet and I would go deep sea fishing and watch scary slasher movies with him. I still miss doing the Sunday crossword and going to museums.

BlackLOG said...

This same article appeared in one of the UK Sunday papers a while back -


In my view - People who are holding out for the perfect partner are in for a very sad and lonely life. Even if you could find that "perfect someone" how long would it last? We change over the years and unless you can adapt and accept a person, faults and all, it is very unlikely your relationship will last.

I'm not saying that people should stick with bad relationships but what do I know? almost 25 years of being with Mrs B, she might drive me crazy at times but I love her more now then ever before. Besides I suspect I would not tick a lot of the 'Perfect' boxes but I seem to keep Mrs B happy most of the time....

wendy said...

Interesting post for sure. What, PERFECT?? is there such a thing. Good relationships are often ones that have been BUILT together.
I'll go out on a limb and say isn't it only those who are most selfish to thing that compromises don't need to be made in life.
I'll give up This for That
while you give up THAT for This

Richella said...

Hi there--

Visiting via your comment via SITS. . . and glad I came over. I enjoyed this post very much. I'd miss all the hoopla about the book, but as someone who's been married for 24 years and learned that no one (not my husband, and not I) is perfect, I think I'd track with this book. I find it a shame that so many young people are holding out for perfect and missing out on life.

I also enjoyed reading about your adventures with GA. To be honest, it's a pleasure to read the writing of someone who knows how to write. There are so many blogs out there. . . and so many people who want to express themselves but can scarcely put words together. I appreciate reading the writing of someone who actually knows how to punctuate and spell, not to mention use pronouns correctly. I'm a dinosaur, I know, but it means something to me!

Very nice to meet you! By the way, my husband is a native Arkansan. Small world, no?

Aleta said...

What was the age range that thought ill of the book? 20 something? Early in life, it's all about the looks, for men and women. It takes time to realize the importance of character and enjoying the relationship.. maturity matters.

Kathryn said...

Well, there is both sides to "settling." I was married before, also, & married quite young. But i was not in a good place when i married & chose the first guy who came around, really. Not a good choice for either of us. Looking back, i'd say we shared 30% of life goals & values, & it just wasn't enough. I settled far too low & it didn't last.

Then i was single for a long time. I wasn't looking for perfect, but no one seemed to be compatible at all. I gave up & resigned myself to staying single. Then Mr. Wonderful came along. I will admit that he doesn't have the physical qualities i've been attracted to in the past. We are so compatible (neither of us are perfect either!) that i really don't give it a thought. We've been married 5-1/2 years now & it is a joy, all of it.

But we do have to pay for this in a way. We both would like children very much & it is not going to happen for us. (I've gotten some painful responses about the children thing in the past. I've been told that if we don't have children it is our choice because there are so many children who need homes. Please let me just say, each circumstance is different. Mr. Wonderful & i have looked at this from all angles & because of a number of factors, adopting or being foster parents is something we cannot do. It isn't that we're not willing, but that we're not able.)

Life Laugh Latte said...

I count my blessings every day that I met John when he was 17 and I was 19. We just knew early on we were meant for each other. Now we are 40 & 42 and still totally in love. Thank you God! Holly

TraciLopez said...

It's funny that you wrote about this because I have been thinking of Lori Gottlieb's book(although I have not read it) I do get what she is saying.

I married a beautiful man in my early 20's who turned out to be the devil, but since he was charming, handsome, and intelligent. I was swept off my feet. He turned out to be conceited, critical, and unfortunately a drug addict.

Fast forward 10 years where(after many failed relationships with men the world considered to be handsome) I started looking for beauty from within' and lo and behold I find another beautiful man (a writer). He was a friend of a friend, and commented on my comment to her. I found him immediately intriguing, I read a lot of his stories (and loved them) and started chatting with him online and on the phone. I fell in love with him before we met face to face. When we met in person, he was not a snazzy dresser(which can be fixed), polite, funny, and sweet (not a smooth talker), and missing a tooth(which he told me about but the things dentists can do these days can totally fix it), not classically handsome,( to me he is more beautiful than any man I have ever been with). Was a missing tooth on my list of requirements? No. But I wouldn't trade him for Brad Pitt. Do I feel like I have lowered my standards? No. I feel like by letting love be blind, I have found my soulmate. We have to think that maybe we have some traits that aren't perfect as well, he could of easily dismissed me for being chubby (as many men have).

Tam said...

Great post! I am also married for the second time, and I try much harder to work at it now. (Not that I regret leaving the Wrong One, AT ALL.) But I tend to forgive more and hold on tighter; I think you can do that and still be true to what you need. P.S. For some reason, your blog stopped showing up on my "blogs I follow" list and I thought you just weren't writing lately, so I haven't been over here in awhile.

Tori Cooper said...

Totally love your posts... I guess I have some catching up to do ;-) Just FYI Traci Lopez is my sister- so if you ever wonder how we are connected that's it! She introduced me to SITS... and is an inspiration to me in blogger world. I find your entries inspiring and intriguing as well!

Concerning this blog- I agree that many young people (particularly women) unfortunately have their standards either too high or too low. Growing up I have personally known people who believed that once they got married that finally they will be happy. Somehow marriage would fix all their problems... or if they marry that guy they will "train" him to be the person they really want him to be. Unfortunately that is not always the case...

I have been so blessed to have found/married a good guy with a good heart. He is my companion in life & best friend... our relationship for the most part is based on love and trust. I understand that he is human, makes mistakes and will never be perfect. We have a mutual understanding of our humanity... I wouldn't have it any other way! Physical appearances will come and go, things will shift as we age, but the heart & soul will always be there... Good men do exist.

I used to work with a lady who tried to convince me that ALL men are pigs/dogs... I couldn't accept that concept because I really did find a good guy... good men do exist!

UncertainProphet said...

I liked this post a LOT. It's well-written, with a good point... but the thing that made me happy was the finish.

It makes me happy that you have blessings to count and have experienced the love of a good man.