The Case for Settling

14 02 2008

On Valentine’s Day we frequently hear relationship experts tell couples they need spontaneity to keep the flame of passion alive, communication to sustain the bonds of intimacy, honesty to promote mutual respect. But little attention is paid to the wisdom of the strategy of the wear-you-down-method.

What’s that? Simply put, it can simply be described as hard headed persistence in wooing a woman. Women beware! Some men can be frighteningly committed to this approach. And they do it because it works.

In her essay, “Marry Him! The Case for Settling for Mr. Good EnoughLori Gottlieb Writing for March issue for the Atlantic Monthly, illustrated the cold realism inspired by the the wear-you-down-method.

Money quote:

Then there’s my friend Chris, a single 35-year-old marketing consultant who for three years dated someone he calls “the perfect woman”—a kind and beautiful surgeon. She broke off the relationship several times because, she told him with regret, she didn’t think she wanted to spend her life with him. Each time, Chris would persuade her to reconsider, until finally she called it off for good, saying that she just couldn’t marry somebody she wasn’t in love with. Chris was devastated, but now that his ex-girlfriend has reached 35, he’s suddenly hopeful about their future.

“By the time she turns 37,” Chris said confidently, “she’ll come back. And I’ll bet she’ll marry me then. I know she wants to have kids.” I asked Chris why he would want to be with a woman who wasn’t in love with him. Wouldn’t he be settling, too, by marrying someone who would be using him to have a family? Chris didn’t see it that way at all. “She’ll be settling,” Chris said cheerfully. “But not me. I get to marry the woman of my dreams. That’s not settling. That’s the fantasy.”

Now that’s what I call cold blooded calculation. I don’t condone it, since there are obvious flaws to this strategy, but you do have to admire his resolve, even if it distorts one’s sense of reality and comes at the expense of much greater fulfillment.

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8 responses

14 02 2008
Single Black Male

Thats really funny, but it does work. I don’t really agree on marrying someone who doesn’t feel as strongly about you as you do them, but simply keeping up the fight until the other team “concedes” has been working wonders for guys for a long time.

Lol … good post.

14 02 2008
Single Black Male

And in case you were wondering, no … I’m not a fan of the method. Too lazy …

14 02 2008

Lets be honest…spontanaiety can’t be forced, honesty at the expense of keeping the peace can be wearisome, and communicating until everything is talked about (and you’re talking about talking) sooner or later if the feelings don’t grow, one or both of the people involved is gonna get burned out. When all else fails…wait. And trust that love will grow eventually.

Great post

14 02 2008

Yeah I am way too lazy to put that much work into getting a woman. Plus, I would probably go broke in the process of trying to get her to “concede” who is not feeling me that much to begin with.

Thanks for the comments.

16 02 2008

i read this a couple of weeks ago, and it was infuriating (although one friend claimed it was “so so insightful, and has changed my approach to dating”). this article is the reason why that woman is still single. i understand what she is trying to say, but i think her logic is misguided and juvenile.

17 02 2008

Misguided and juvenile might be a little harsh. Perhaps, the real reason Lori Gottlieb, the author of the article, is still single has less to do with her logic, than with her circumstances:

“Having turned 40, I now have wrinkles, bags under my eyes, and hair in places I didn’t know hair could grow on women. With my nonworking life consumed by thoughts of potty training and playdates, I’ve become a far less interesting person than the one who went on hiking adventures and performed at comedy clubs. But when I chose to have a baby on my own, the plan was that I would continue to search for true connection afterward; it certainly wasn’t that I would have a baby alone only to settle later.”

Its sad, but true.

18 02 2008

misguided and juvenile because she equates settling with being picky. because she seems to identify and target men who can only act as potential sperm donors and offer material comfort. because she is more looking for someone who can work for her (based on her assessment of one date), not for someone with whom she can work as a team. because rather than truly assessing the qualities of potential partners, she zeros in on a belly, or balding, or the annoying habit of yelling “bravo” in a theater.

if anything, i believe her circumstances were born of her logic. (physical aging aside)

19 02 2008

I grant you that whole soul mate obsession in the piece evinces a poor sense of what dating is really all about, and maybe she could have been disabused of all of that sooner.

But I don’t think she equates settling with being picky. The author strongly implies that she was way too picky, which is why she could not get past certain imperfections (balding, pot belly) and perhaps is one of the reasons she believes she is still single now.

Also, I don’t think she is looking for a sperm donor in a husband either, since she elected to have one child on her own already.

It seems that long before Gottlieb wrote this piece she was ready to be practical. She lays it out right here:

“In practice, my married friends with kids don’t spend that much time with their husbands anyway (between work and child care), and in many cases, their biggest complaint seems to be that they never see each other. So if you rarely see your husband—but he’s a decent guy who takes out the trash and sets up the baby gear, and he provides a second income that allows you to spend time with your child instead of working 60 hours a week to support a family on your own—how much does it matter whether the guy you marry is The One?”

That sounds like a woman who has reconciled herself to the heart numbing and unromantic reality of a prosaic marriage. And I don’t think its unreasonable for her to want to be with someone who will provide a second income, if that’s what you mean by “material comfort.”

Perhaps, she should have woke up sooner to the fact that she allowed some opportunities to slip away, but that precisely why she wrote the piece.

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