I just finished reading Lori Gottlieb’s war and peace article from the Atlantic Monthly about settling. I know I already wrote about this – but that was in response to hearing her speak on the Today Show. Now I’ve read the whole article and have a new idea about the piece.
Lori does make a case for settling, but really isn’t convinced herself. She talks about how her married friends complain about their husbands, but none of them will ship him over to her as she says. There are a few places where Lori has really missed the boat in this article. And shipping your husband over to her is one of them. It’s called the "grass is always greener," a syndrome to which many people succumb.
Yes Lori, married women may complain about their husbands, but that doesn’t mean they want to throw him out with the bath water. It’s just that Lori, as a single mom, doesn’t have to negotiate and the married women do. So the grass LOOKS greener, but is it? Not really.
Something else that i found completely appalling was her white collar snobbery. She made comments about how women discuss settling to marry a plumber or park ranger. So they settled because he wasn’t the perfect white collar guy? Come on!
She has missed one of the biggest social phenomenon and dilemmas about dating today for woman. If you are a woman in a white collar job, you have what traditionally was a man’s job. That means that women probably occupy more than half of the jobs men use to have. So now the white collar women and non-professional women are vying for the same pool of white collar guys – and there are probably half as many proportionally! My matchmaker friend John Holt of Tri-State Dating says that 95% of the women today want to date 5% of the men. He’s got something there.
Now, let’s stop and examine this issue. Does a white collar job make a man smarter? Not really – do you know any ivy leaguers who are surprisingly dim? I do. Does his white collar ensure he’ll be kind, generous, or monogamous? Nope. It doesn’t even guarantee a good salary or a job in today’s economy.
And let’s look at the flip side. How many plumbers do you know who got laid off in a corporate merger? And how many plumbers do you know can fix stuff? Ah yes, there’s a benefit.
Ultimately what matters most is a man’s character:
– Does he hold down a regular job?
– Does he have a similar value system?
– Does he treat you with respect?
– Do you get along well enough?
– Do you enjoy his company?
Every time Lori talked about settling, she pointed to something that was probably a deal breaker and most likely should be. Because without some basic elements, you couldn’t possibly stay together. However, considering men from "outside the box" isn’t actually about settling. What it does mean is that you are considering more of a man’s personal characteristics and values rather than the window dressing and status of a white collar job.
Settling is more about being real with your expectations. Finding the perfect man is ludicrous. No man is perfect. No woman is perfect either. My Dad isn’t perfect – was yours? Where did this idea of perfection or ideal even come from? Yes, relationships are about compromise and an unwillingness to compromise will always mean you have trouble in relationships. That’s a simple fact of life.
But, there is a big gap between perfection and good enough to settle for. Trust me, when you start actually getting to know men for who they are, rather than what they can give you or do for you, you will start encountering a whole new crop of guys with true potential to make very good husbands.