First you need to read the contoversial article that recently appeared in The Atlantic, entitled "Marry Him! The case for Settling." by Lori Gottlieb. Dr. Karen Gail Lewis of the Women's Room, in Single Women, are you settling? Is that bad? provides a clear discussion of what it means to "settle" from the vantage point of three different women. And last, but not at all least, you will be enlivened reading Dr. Bella DePaulo's response to Lori Gottlieb's premise, and Lori Gottlieb's scathing response to her. Finally,
Dr. DePaulo discusses an article in The New Republic that asks why it should be assumed that settling for marriage is better than living single. Having read all of this, what do you think?
AND FROM OUR VISITORS:
Settling I may be dodging the issue a bit but this is how I see it:I don’t believe in settling at all, but I have changed my expectations over the years a lot.I don’t expect a relationship to make me feel whole or make me feel constantly stimulated or bonded.
When I was younger, I had more intense feelings about the type of connection I wanted.I still want to know those feelings are accessible sometimes, but I look more for steadiness and a person who does not interfere with my process.I want someone who is solid in his own self.
I married for intensity and love and spent a lot of time in turmoil and eventually had a horrible divorce.I dated some, after recovering a bit emotionally and getting on my feet with two small children and a full time job.When I met the man I live with now, I was immediately pretty sure about him.I feel fortunate about that and we have worked a lot to deal with the issues of blending families or at least mushing them together.What made me feel sure about my partner is that he had a similar vision of a relationship as mine .I remember him saying, “I really don’t get why two people who really want to work things out and will really try, shouldn’t be able to keep a relationship good.”
My partner thinks very differently from me and has a very different style in life.But that core understanding binds us together and I might not be able to get a close feeling at any given moment, but I know I can if I just wait a bit.Years ago I would’ve called this rather staid connection settling; now I call it peaceful.
Cynthia, age 48
As a 53 year old single woman without chilidren (yet with a great life of adventures, career, and good friends and family) I haven't always made the "right" decisions, and occasionally beat myself up when I look at others who appear tohave the "I can have it all" dream of career, marriage, children, ease, and affluence. And the choices I made when I was younger didn't always makesense to either me or those around me.
hen I finished college, I was dating the "perfect man" for a life of children and teamwork. He loved me and wanted to marry, and I felt I SHOULD love him. But the truth was that I felt depressed, and trapped. I couldn't make the decision to marry him, despite my own wish at times that I could "feel" differently…instead I fell in love with an artist whose life was anything but stable. And ultimately, I couldn't marry him either, as our values seemed so different.
Do I have regrets? At times I wish I had had the "linear" life, and sometimes I am envious of those women who appear protected and cared for. But I COULDN'T do that; I didn't feel it was an option for me to "settle" for that choice. Instead, I gradually learned what I truly loved, and built my life on what mattered to me- a deep and rich group of friends, an enjoyable career, and more recently, a relationship with a man who is comfortable, loving, and a great companion.
Interestingly, I made this CHOICE in the context of being pursued by another man who was "perfect", adored by my family, wealthy, and romantic. From the standard of economic security and "looking good", it would have been the right decision. But I also knew it would not work, because it wasn't really ME, but the image that I thought should be me. I opted for a relationship that is more emotionally real and fits me- like the other aspects of my life that I have developed through my single years. I settled for someone real to me, whom I care for; I gave up the romantic ideal (and fantasy).
Could I have forced myself to make other choices earlier on? I just can't imagine how that could have happened… the choices I made were right for me where I was at that time…my love of my artist boyfriend was an important experiencetowards awakening my passion- my ability to be my own me (not what I ought to be)which has led me towards a life with amazing richness and satisfaction (when I am not comparing myself to others who I perceive as having it better or doing it the right way.)
I also realize that if I envy what others have, I need to actively search for what is holding me back from becoming fulfilled in my own life. Is it that I avoid taking action towards what I want (and they have), because I'm afraid, I don't feel worthy, or I'm waiting for someone else to give it to me etc. OR is it that for some reason I can't accept who I am and the gifts of my particular path (and let go of what is not me). If I don't go deeper into knowing why I am stuck and dissatisfied with the choices I have made, I remain stuck in that place of feeling that everything would be better if only…I had settled.