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Dear Poll: Should You Settle?

A recent article in the Atlantic Monthly takes a look at single women in their 30s. I was slightly shocked and frankly a little perturbed when reading it, as it implies that all women, no matter how fierce they appear, are really only pining away for a wedding. According to the author,

every woman I know — no matter how successful and ambitious, how financially and emotionally secure — feels panic, occasionally coupled with desperation, if she hits 30 and finds herself unmarried.

So what's her suggestion you might ask? To settle, of course. I guess the reasoning is if you settle for the guy you're not absolutely in love with, you'll be so happy that you're not single, you won't notice that you're not in love. Obviously this idea doesn't work for me, but what about you? Do you think it's better to settle if you're 30 and single rather than risk becoming an "old maid"?


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chinadoll66102 chinadoll66102 8 years
Oh! In addition (because I thought of a really good analogy :P) Finding the right one is like finding a REALLY good restaurant. There are tons of them around, all very unique and different, and you can often find several you really love too (not just one!) It usually takes a lot of different tries to find a place to go that you really like-you will probably eat at places where the food is 'okay' or 'decent' and for many of us, you might even get food poisoning a few times, spend some time wallowing around with an upset stomach before you decide it's okay to go out and eat again. Who knew that trying to find a great place to eat could be so hard! Settling is like choosing to go to a 'good' restaurant instead of going to one that has really excellent food that you fancy, or sticking with a place that is 'okay' when you know there is probably better out there but for some reason you don't want to go out and look (or maybe are even afraid to from getting sick after eating at OTHER food chains). Sure, at a good restaurant the food is pretty good. Maybe it's somewhat 'yummy'. But it's not 'great', but hey it gets the job done. Why would someone go to some place that is just 'good' instead of 'great' or some place they really love? They are friggin' HUNGRY, that's why! 'Hey, I am starving! I need some damn food!' Relationships are like that. When we are 'starving' or hungry for something-whether it be companionship, finding a partner to support us financially maybe, all sorts of reasons-we are more likely to settle or choose something that just 'satisfies' us instead of finding the BEST for us as individuals or something we really really *like* and love. When we just want food, we are more likely to end up at a McDonald's for something quick instead of maybe a place we would like more just to satisfy our empty stomachs. Okay, kinda a crummy analogy ;) But it SORTA works
chinadoll66102 chinadoll66102 8 years
If there is anything I have learned from my experiences, it's that if it doesn't feel 'right' there's usually a reason behind that. I spent a good 3 years in a relationship with a good guy who loved me with all his heart, but I never found that I could 'love' him. Things were always perhaps 'good', or perhaps somewhat happy, but it never felt completely 'right'. But I always used my head-'he loves me/has this trait/treats me well so I *should* love him'. The relationship was full of 'I should's'. I wanted very much to love him, I always tried to look at the positive. But I found I never could get myself totally 'in it'. After the relationship was over, I went and looked back on it and I realized why that was, and how there were fundamental things I was looking for in a partner that were VERY important to me that I thought I could do without. It wasn't the trivial, either, but just in general things I valued that I didn't feel he exibited. I even had a foolish notion that if you 'set your mind to it you can love just about anyone'. I ignored and neglected how subtle and unconscious attraction is, and it only led to a bunch of unhappiness trying to force myself to love someone I couldn't. Settling, to me, is not settling for someone who maybe keeps their socks on the floor. Settling is when you end up with someone who is NOT your partner in crime, not your best friend, someone whom you select out of a need for a husband/wife/kids instead of for who they are as a person *independant* of those factors. As soon as 'getting married' becomes your focus, you've lost sight of what you actually should be looking for, and the probability to make a mistake goes up. It's not about butterflies in the stomach, it's not about finding someone 'perfect'. It's about intimacy, trust, all the good stuff and forgeing a relationship with someone whom is maybe not your 'ideal' but pretty damned close to it in the ways that count.
epee epee 9 years
I am a 23yr old man who married an amazing girl that I thought would never leave me. We were living together for two years before I proposed, I knew then I didn't really think she was the girl of my dreams, but we got along and we both wanted to succeed in life and I didn't want to break up with and crush her heart for no apparent reason. So we got married and I wasn't unhappy...or at least I didn't think so. less than two years later she said she couldn't take being in love with someone who wasn't head over heals in love with her back...I settled. I have regretted it every day since the day I said I do. But knowing that she still adores me and wants to be with me is driving me crazy. I am a lot more unhappy know than I ever was when we were still together. But on the other hand its not fair for her to spend her life with someone who thinks she's okay, and not his everything. Sorry I needed to vent. If you have any comments please e-mail me:
kh61582 kh61582 9 years
I'm only 22 so maybe I haven't been through enough to make a judgement one way or the other. I just know that right now I've been with my boyfriend of nearly three and a half years and I got involved with him to get over someone else and surprise surprise I'm still madly in love with the man behind door #1 and realizing that maybe I never loved my boyfriend. I'm only 22 and it's already a horrible feeling. Not only for myself but also for my boyfriend. He's very much in love with me which makes me feel incredibly guilty that maybe our relationship was a complete mistake.
morrisseygirl morrisseygirl 9 years
I have a hard time giving proper credit to the opinions of those in their early 20s--especially if they're married. :) I agree with those wonderful posters who have said, hey, some people prioritize family over soulmate and that is TOTALLY FINE! It's their choice. It was, in a way, my choice. I dated the guy I see as the love of my life/soulmate (even though I don't really believe in that hoohah) for six years but he didn't want to get married and kids was the last thing on this to-do list. He was very independent and I'm not. I need that sense of belonging and love that comes from a family. We all want to belong somewhere--and not all of us have that for one reason or another. So I found a great, honest, loving, cute, funny guy that is, so far, an excellent husband and no doubt will be a fantastic father. I still think of my other guy a lot, and will kind of always love him. But my husband is my family, and I am so happy every night to sleep next to him. "Settling" made me really happy.
bluebellknoll bluebellknoll 9 years
Geez. Don't settle! I'm 36...and not married. But I met the most amazing man just over a year ago and I finally feel like marriage is in my future. Not because I'm desperate for it but because it feels right and we are so happy together. It took me awhile to find my "one" and I am so glad I didn't settle for any of the guys I dated along the way.
Random2 Random2 9 years
While I said to wait for the perfect guy, I'm also 22 and with a great guy and we're planning a future together. Not saying that that won't work and I won't end up 30 and just looking for someone to marry fast. I think settling only hurts everyone in the end; you'd be unhappy and probably end up 40 and divorced.
bbkf bbkf 9 years
I really can't say; I got married at 22.
CoMMember13630786602261 CoMMember13630786602261 9 years
Bond Girl-You took the words right out of my mouth!
CoMMember13630786602261 CoMMember13630786602261 9 years
Im sorry, but that is absurd. yes, I would probably freak out a little if I turn thirty and there still is no prospect of marraige, but I would by no means go out and find just anyone to marry me, just so Im married by 30. Shoot, I love my BF very much, and its still hard to get along with him sometimes...I cant even imagine trying to make it work with someone who you only kinda liked.
aimeeb aimeeb 9 years
Don't even get me started... :OY:
bellaressa bellaressa 9 years
I agree with bastille_75. I feel that you should not settle and that you should be happy with your life and decisions before you bring someone else aboard. I think more women need to be happy with themselves and be self-sufficient in the emotional, mental, and financially state. I am 28 and not even thinking of marriage yet, I am having fun dating, traveling, and enjoying life. If I meet a man that I fit well in his life and vice verse, then that is great if not then I will not settle for a someone that does not compliment my life.
Bond-Girl Bond-Girl 9 years
I don't think her arguments are well thought out. The article assumes that you need a traditional family structure to be happy, and that a husband will automatically help out with all the day to day chores. Most married women will tell you that very few of their husbands actually do. She equates marriage to a boring non-profit business, but fails to realize that a business partner can also be more of a liability than an asset. It also doesn't say very much for the men we married if we 'settled'. Can you imagine telling your boyfriend or husband, 'Honey, you are not that exciting, I'm with you because I settled....'. Anyone who has lived with another person in close quarters know howb hard it is to live with someone. Perhaps the most compelling reason for us to put up with someone's quirks and idiosyncrasies is the overwhelming madness called 'love'. If you love someone, you will forgive the wet towels left one the bed, or the toilet seat left in the wrong position. Without that 'love' then living with someone is really a boring nonprofitable venture.
Misskastar Misskastar 9 years
The author's idea of marriage...or what she encourages it to be...companionship, or having a life partner, is my WORST nightmare. I don't want to live a passion-less, tedious, "good enough" life. I think I would feel even more lonely. I am 23, in a relationship. I am not even sure I want kids. She didn't even address that. The entire article presumes that woman WANT to get married and have kids. Not every woman wants that. It's just not right for everybody. Ugh that article was depressing, sad and absurd.
missnomi missnomi 9 years
even if rationally you think you would never, I suspect that many of us actually have felt like settling at one time or another. It is true, after my bf and I broke up (because he couldn;t see himself settling -- ever) I was all too happy to fall into the next guy's arms who would! Of course, nothing came of it, even though I thought that perhaps I had to try harder and give and take etc. and he was a great guy, but just not the one. But I definetely stiocked longer that I should have because I felt I had to be settling (I was 30,31 at the time). We broke up and now I'm with the love of my life (and he has a similar story). I think settling works for some people, but not all.
Green Green 9 years
"There is no such thing as a perfect person but I do believe everyone can find an imperfect someone who perfectly compliments their imperfect selves." Meike- I agree 100%, people look for someone to supplement what they aren't but they should be looking for someone who is going to supplement what they are. Opposites usually attract and although I think those can be the very things that can drive one crazy they are also the same things that can bring about stability in a relationship and those things should be reviewed and analyzed to see how it makes the relationship stronger. Working together that is... said by a 25 year old, unmarried person whose boyfriend is not mr. perfect but he is her mr. complimentary
kayleigh83 kayleigh83 9 years
I've settled for guys I wasn't really in love with, and at first you think it's ok... but eventually you feel even more lonely, and like you're lying to them and yourself. It isn't worth it.
lickety-split lickety-split 9 years
30? no way, that is so young. if it's truely important for the woman to be married and have a family i think she should sort of "take stock" and see what type of man she can attract (realistic not fairy tale). i have a friend who is 30 this year and she is so silly with the "he has a pot belly...he has thinning hair (so does she)..he has a boring job (so does she)". she doesn't give men a chance, crosses them off the list based on fluff rather than substance. is he kind, intelligent, honest, etc. she never even gets to that point because she wants a guy that looks like a movie star and has the income and style to match. for most people that isn't realistic. i think at 40 the ones she's turned away are going to start looking pretty good to her.
hotstuff hotstuff 9 years
popgoestheworld, I admit I didn't read the article because the sugar girls usually do a fab job at summarizing articles and posing questions. So I went back and read it and I'm even more disappointed in the author who wrote it. First of all she says it's OK if your man yells bravo at the movies or has "halitosis or abysmal sense of aesthetics". Does she really consider women to be so shallow that they can't fall in love with a man who isn't perfect? Plenty of women fall in love with men who can't dress or who are even the most annoying creature on earth the point is these women didn't settle they are actually in love. When you settle you marry just for the sake of being married! Then the author goes on to make parallel comparisons of 30 year old real women with shows like Sex and the City, Friends, and The Mary Tyler Moore show. Are you kidding me? Those are TV SHOWS!!! She then goes on to say about her fiends, "these women wouldn’t trade places with me for a second, no matter how dull their marriages might be or how desperately they might long for a different husband. 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." If that's not pathetic I don't know what is!!! Oh, and I had to laugh at this one: "The couples my friend and I saw at the park that summer were enviable but not because they seemed so in love—they were enviable because the husbands played with the kids for 20 minutes so their wives could eat lunch. In practice, my married friends with kids don’t spend that much time with their husbands anyway..." She's seriously jealous because these women get to eat lunch because their husbands play with the kids for 20 minutes???!!! I mean she just keeps coming with these ridiculous thoughts. She goes on to envy Will and Grace. Yes, ANOTHER TV SHOW!!! Oh here's another gem: "Take the date I went on last night. The guy was substantially older. He had a long history of major depression and said, in reference to the movies he was writing, “I’m fascinated by comas” and “I have a strong interest in terrorists.” He’d never been married. He was rude to the waiter. But he very much wanted a family, and he was successful, handsome, and smart. As I looked at him from across the table, I thought, Yeah, I’ll see him again. Maybe I can settle for that. But my very next thought was, Maybe I can settle for better. It’s like musical chairs—when do you take a seat, any seat, just so you’re not left standing alone?" WTF??? This one here is just SAD: "Now, though, I realize that if I don’t want to be alone for the rest of my life, I’m at the age where I’ll likely need to settle for someone who is settling for me." So I take back what I said about women who settle being pathetic. Not only are they pathetic but the author of this article is ALSO pathetic!
ilovecandyfloss ilovecandyfloss 9 years
I honestly can't believe why someone would rather have a family than true love. And of course there's such a thing as soulmates - the people who don't believe in soulmates have obviously not met theirs yet!! Having said that though, I guess I can understand if a woman (or a man!) is getting older (not 30 though, I mean more like 50-60!) and she is lonely and wants companionship. But I can't really comment, since I'm 23 and have been with my future husband since I was 18!
Meike Meike 9 years
Not all women want families, however. I know I don't. I do think some posters here have a little bit more substance to them when they say they'll 'never settle' with just anyone. Everyone's dream partner takes on a different definition and not all of us include the little nit-picky, superficial details such as pattern of boxers, type of drink he likes, must look like a supermodel or little bad habits. I think some of us can be given a bit more credit than that. When I think of 'never settle' I think of the following: Never settle for someone who: -is dishonest. -isn't completely available. -has poor character. -has little to no integrity. -has no ambition in life. -is incredibly irresponsible and immature. -treats you with disrespect. -can't fairly and openly communicate with you. -isn't sensitive to your needs. -isn't emotionally generous. -isn't willing to grow, learn, and improve with you. -has too much poor self-esteem. -has a negative outlook on life. -practices double standards. -plays mind games. -is controlling. -is chauvinistic. -possesses a mismatch libido with you. -who isn't committed to you. -who gives up easily on making a relationship work. -whose values, ideals, and end goals clash with yours. -who doesn't love you unconditionally. And, most importantly... Never settle for someone who you think you can change as time progresses. There is no such thing as a perfect person but I do believe everyone can find an imperfect someone who perfectly compliments their imperfect selves.
mlen mlen 9 years
thanks for the summary popgoesthe world cause that is kinda what i had in mind when i clicked other. while the fantasy little girl side of me wants my prince charming, the reality side of me realizes every year i get old that it just might not play out like that. i always thought i'd have that i meet the guy and i know feeling, and i haven't yet. now i'd never settle in the sense that i'd marry someone i didn't love, however i might have to settle for that slightly less than prince charming sorta guy. that just means accepting small flaws for what they are and realizing that maybe who i end up with will not be what i imagined. but that doesn't mean he's going to be a bad person! i mean right now i am still holding out for that one true love, head over heals sorta deal. but in 5 years when i'm at the age when a family is very important and the clock is ticking, i might just settle for the nice good guy that i do love and will be a good husband, minus the white horse and castle ya know.
sunnyheart sunnyheart 9 years
Yes, popgoestheworld, I think when you are older you realize dating men indefinitely searching for "the one"... As you get older, it's hard to ignore hormones and the desire for a family when all of your friends just keep getting engaged and pregnant one after the other. As someone who feels like 30 just keeps getting closer and closer, I picked yes. Having children with a decent, upstanding man is more important to me than waiting for a supersmart supermodel who always does everything right. We all know there are more good women than men!
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 9 years
I read the article and found it very interesting. I think she has an interesting perspective, one that wasn't really articulated well in the very brief synopsis of the article in Dear's post. I would suggest that commenters take the time to read it, as the article itself was well written and interesting, even if you're inclined to disagree. I find some of these comments very, very harsh. I don't think that someone who is in their early 30s, who wants to have a family and who "settles" for less than her soulmate is "pathetic" as some have described. Rather, it's a matter of perspective. It's saying: a family is more important to me than true love. And going into a relationship with that perspective, you won't be so devastated when the passion and romance of "true love" turns into conversations about diaper rash. You kind of know what you are getting into. The author isn't suggesting that we settle for abusers, or settle for people we don't get along with. She's suggesting that we settle for someone who isn't necessarily the man of your dreams or romantic soulmate in favor of someone who we are compatible with and have a good friendship with. She feels that our idealized version of meeting Prince Charming is stopping people from having meaningful relationships. On this site alone, I have read comments about people breaking up with people over the pattern on their boxers, the type of drink they ordered, or a single bad habit. While that's their prerogative entirely, the author is saying that people who always find one little thing wrong with everyone because they don't embody the exact person they were dreaming about aren't likely to find that at age 40. And if you want a family, age 40 can be too late. I'm not necessarily advocating for settling, but I think it's cruel to call people pathetic and miserable for wanting a family more than they want Prince Charming. I'd argue some of these women who make these conscious choices are going to be happier and less disappointed than woman who are expecting love poems for the rest of their lives and no problems whatsoever. And finally, I'd guess many people commenting and pretty young. This woman is older and has the perspective of someone who has been around a little longer than most of us. For that reason alone I found the article interesting.
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