my journey through the pursuit of love & happiness


Posted on: July 5, 2010

“The right guy is a delusion. Once you understand that you can start living your life.” Samantha, Sex and the City

What is the appropriate age to settle?

I’m not talking about settling down, but settling. For something less.

Some people out there think that we all settle, to some degree; it’s just a matter of when and whom.

This topic might seem taboo as it goes against the idea that all marriages are based on true love. Key word: true. No one admits going into a marriage with the idea that divorce is their safety net.

Marriage is looked at as this inevitable event that happens once you fall in love.

Of course this depends on how you define love. Or marriage.

My senior of high school my English teacher refered to an article in the American Journal of psychology regarding infatuation. I’m not sure what classic we were reading at the time or what the subject matter that brought this forward, but it has stuck with me ever since. He reported that this study found that infatuation can last up to two years (on average).

If I knew what I know now I would want to know the p-value and level of significance and exactly what variables were used to define and measure infatuation. I would probably play around with their model in my mind and throw around ideas for a better model. What areas of the country were these couples living in? How old were they when they were studied? Were they all married? If so, had they previously lived together? All straight couples? Ethnicities? Religions?

The study went on the say that people can fall in and out of infatuation with the same person throughout their lives. I’m taking infatuation as the replacement for ‘in love.’ Did the authors not believe in love?

I find it interesting that someone would set out to study ‘in love’ and it’s boundaries. Define them. Label them.

I wonder how these researchers would view settling.

If we assume this study to be true then we know that there will be some, if not many, points in our relationship where we are not ‘in love’ with the person we love.

Do we take this as a given? Or do we strive for more?

I don’t have the answers. The researchers and lab rats I’m sure don’t have the answers, either.

So how do we define love?

Standing up in the name of love and declaring that you would never settle is obviously easier said than done.

As a woman in my late twenties I was raised to believe that I could have everything. My father taught me to be independent and that I didn’t need a man. My mother taught me that you cannot control who you love. Disney taught me that prince charming will come if I act like a damsel.

Only one of these people lied to me.

Being raised as part of a generation that was taught and encouraged to have it all has disappointments. Sure, all generations do. My generation is learning that having everything isn’t having everything if you are making a lot of sacrifices.

Fairy tales and happy ever after only exist in moves. The question is: are you going to be the reacher or the settler in the relationship?

I’m sure there are exceptions to the reacher/settler theory. I’m sure most people think they are the exception.

At what age do we decide what we actually want from a man and a relationship? The minute it is standing in front of us? When we are five? When we are in high school? Or a young professional? I’m sure if many of the men and women looked at these defining times in their lives the image of who they would have imagined at that age is different than what they have. Did any part of you settle? Did any part of you grow and change in their definition of a husband/wife?

Is settling just a grander form of compromise?

There are two camps of single people: people who have held out for so long that they don’t want to settle and will continue to be single until their dream partner is reached and the single man/woman who wants a family, children, the whole picture.

Maybe holding out is easy. Maybe holding out is delusional. Knowing exactly what you want, having this ideal image in your head can handicap you in love. Being too specific, can anyone live up to your conjured image of love? Everyone has a fantasy of love and what they think exists specifically for them.

I hate to be the one to break the delusional disney myths, but there is no other half; there is no soul mate. Believing so only puts unrealistic expectations on relationships and love. Relationships are tough enough as they are, can’t we just accept that it’s not going to be perfect, that he/she is not going to be perfect?

Can’t we find the beauty in imperfections?

The concept of soul mates comes from Greek Mythology. Humans used to have four arms, four legs, etc. Zeus feared that they may be too powerful and split them up. We’ve been lost ever since.

Gottlieb finds that women want it all—and often aren’t willing to compromise on their list of traits their ideal mate must have: “It’s that many refuse to recognize that their vision of the perfect man doesn’t match reality. ”

Who is settling?

In Taylor Swift’s Love Story she sings, “marry me Juliet you’ll never have to be alone…”

Alone? Is that all marriage is about? Not being alone?!

Is the selling point to men and women regarding settling is that they will never have to be alone?

Why do over analyze we he/she didn’t call but ignore the most important relationship we have in our lives with ourselves.

It’s easy to believe the lie that being in a relationship is equated with not being alone. Physically sure. Emotionally being in a relationship can be the loneliest place. Do we really still believe that being married = happiness?

As we age it seems the fear of being alone guides our decisions in life.

Does waiting for ‘in love’ pay off?

Settling seems the easy choice.  Who cares if you’re not completely in love? Maybe she’s/he’s great and treats you the way you deserve to be treated. Maybe he’s a great father. Maybe she/he loves you for you.

Minus the lovey dovey, if you get everything you want, is it settling?

Apparently, this is where many ladies within recent generations stand. Thirty comes, thirty-five passes them and all of a sudden they are turning forty and realize that maybe they should have settled for less because mr. man just does not exist.

Sure there are always exceptions to the rules. These are generally referred to as urban romance myths. You know, the stories of friends of friends who in a modern role resemble some princess fairy tale happily ever after scenario. A typical example: after years of having faith, good girls changes bad boy; they marry and live ever after.

If there are doubts that fairy tale love will not appear,  is it worth gambling ten or so years away to find mr. man?

Isn’t all this time invested just another sunk cost? These women Gottlieb refer to were less open to settling as time went on.

Other people don’t believe on settling for anything. One friend said, “I can’t settle. It’s worse than failing. Because when you fail, at least you tried.”

But what’s wrong with wanting someone to share the holidays with? Someone to build a home with and care for you when you are sick? Someone who knows you in and out and is a good partner?

Let’s not lie to ourselves. Dating is hard. It’s easier to be alone and not put yourself out there and hold off for an illusion. Life isn’t about having everything, it’s about appreciating what you do have.

I guess in the meantime it’s not so bad getting out there, even if you fail.


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