Why is Settling Such A Bad Thing?


Alias (DO NOT USE A REAL NAME!!): AskYourWife
Comment: How come I only seem to get approached by either physically or emotionally unavailable men?  The only 3 types that ever seem interested (in person or online) are 1. in a relationship, 2. looking for someone temporarily before their next relationship, or 3. players looking for a buffet of girls to choose from
Age: 44
City: Somerville
State: Massachusetts

I think there’s a fourth type of man that you’re leaving off your list:

The guy who is none of the things you described above but, for whatever reason, doesn’t do it for you.

Statements like, “I only meet this kind of person” or “OKCupid/Tinder is just for hook-ups” are dangerous in that they get repeated so often that people begin to take them as universal truths. But they’re not.

Tinder is not just a hook-up app. OKCupid is not just for people looking for casual sex. You do not only get hit on by unavailable men. These are myths perpetuated by people who haven’t figured out that they’re shooting out of their league, are outrageously cynical, or don’t bring enough to the table to attract the people they want. Period. When frustrated people run to their blogs or twitter accounts and rant about some douchey email or text they got from a person they met online, what they’re actually doing is trying to make it out like the problem is everybody else but them. This is why I exert a heavy sigh and strain the muscles in my eyes rolling them every time I see someone publicizing their dating failures.

Here’s the bottom line, AYW:  Your picker is broken. Your lid isn’t the right fit for their pot. Choose whichever cutesy euphemism you like but they all boil down to the same thing.

The problem is you.

Either you are exclusively attracted to asswipes OR your internal radar is so wonky that you make snap judgements about every guy you meet. I don’t trust anybody who says that “everybody” they meet is a gold digger or just looking to get laid. Statistically, that just doesn’t seem possible. A person who claims to exclusively encounter a specific type of person or situation is either exaggerating or so jaded and defensive that the slightest, tiniest infraction gets a date thrown in the reject pile.

I’m truly interested to know what constitutes “just looking for a hook-up” or “he’s a player” or “she’s just looking for a free meal” as I hear those things all the time. After years of writing this column I am conditioned to side-eye a statements like this.

Nobody wants to hear me say this, but I’ll say it anyway: there’s comes a point where you either need to prepare to seriously compromise your standards or accept that you might not find the love of your life. Brutal? Harsh? Depressing? Okay, I guess. Depends on your outlook, I suppose. Half-full versus half-empty and all that. For the record, this goes for men and women equally.

Last week I had a session with a man in his late forties. You would have thought he was no older than early thirties, no joke. He said to me – a 46 year old women – that he just doesn’t find women his age attractive. He wants to date a woman who can go dancing with him, and none of the women his age “look” the type.

“I’ve seen pictures of you, though,” he said. “Your skin…you look great. You don’t look your age.”

I see what you did there, bro. You thought that taking a swipe at women my age would be okay as long as you separated me out from the pack. Nope. For those of you playing at home, comments like that are RU-HUDE!

Let me tell you something: I’m well aware of how good I look “for my age.” I don’t need some rando dude blowing smoke up my skirt. As I explained, there are LOTS of women who “look good for their age” in this city. Lots of them. Thousands upon thousands, in fact. But he has that mental threshold in his head about women of a certain age, so nothing I say will convince him. He wants someone younger because he perceives himself to be younger than he is. That kind of poisonous thinking is why there are so many men and women running around like chickens with their heads cut off baffled that they can’t find a partner.

And it only gets worse as you get older, OP. So, until you do some real introspection, you’re going to keep meeting these “unavailable” men and discarding the guys who probably could offer you the relationship you seek.

But you don’t want to hear that. Real talk: the odds are against you strictly because you’re a woman in your forties. So you can either swim against the tide and – with impressive regularity – meet men who for whatever reason don’t want to to commit to you OR you can make some concessions.

You might hear “settle” somewhere in that advice, and I suppose that is the gist what I’m saying. More accurately, I’m suggestion that you attempt to recalibrate your tuner a bit, because the current direction in which it is set is pointing you in the wrong direction.





Sometimes the love of your life is the love of your life. (R)


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26 Responses to “Why is Settling Such A Bad Thing?”

  1. Mandy Says:

    My dream house might be a 4-bedroom brownstone with parking and a yard, walkable to public transportation, great schools, and a park in a major metropolitan area. And it might cost 4 million dollars. But I can’t get that, so I had to “settle” for something I could afford. And I love my home, and it makes me happy. Did I settle? Yes, I guess so.

    My dream guy is 6’4″, devastatingly handsome, has a creative career but doesn’t work long hours, and is incredibly rich without being entitled or spoiled by the money. Instead my husband is 5’10”, attractive, and a lawyer who is definitely not incredibly rich. Did I settle? Yes, I guess so. But I’m happier with my “settle” of a husband because I gave him a chance and am totally in love with him and love our life together, than I would be trying to hold out for Mr. Perfect.

    People use “settle” as a bad thing. Why not take stalk of what you really want and need to make you happy? Is a couple inches of height, or extra money in the bank, really going to make a big difference to your happiness?

    • KK Says:

      I don’t think that’s settling AT ALL. Settling is when you, well, settle for less than what makes you happy. People settle ALL the time, and it isn’t good. I think compromising to figure out what truly makes you happy- that is always good.

  2. BTownGirl Says:

    When someone says, “All the guys I meet are players.” what I hear is, “I don’t know how to recognize that the uber-flashy, in yo’ face, come on strong type has a 98.97% chance of being full of sh*t.” Perfect example: A guy I grew up with and I follow each other on various social media platforms. This guy’s feed is glorious – a continuous stream of bragging and general bro-foolery. Whenever my day has sucked, I can count on this one to crack me up for ten solid minutes and make me feel better about my life choices. Then dude starts pestering me, first to meet him about investing with him (which…HAHAHAHAHA! Yeah, no.) and after I shoot that down, he’s just dying to get me to go out with him. I think I used up a lifetime of side-eyes declining. Here’s the rub though…dude dates a lot. Like, there are people who buy that someone like this is a good prospect for a relationship. These are also the people who will claim this is the ONLY type of guy they meet and then, after they’ve been dissed, boo-hoo-hoo there are no “good ones” around. Kind of takes your breath away, doesn’t it?

    OP, you’re not seeing the available, interested guys because you’re not checking for them. I’m very familiar with the city you live in and I suggest you back the heck away from the tech-bro population! (Before anyone jumps down my throat – emphasis on the “bro”, not the “tech”) Learn to pay attention to the quieter, more unassuming guys and I think you’ll be a lot happier for it. Good luck!

  3. Dave Says:

    I think removing the term “settling” from our vocabulary might be a good thing. It is just too easy to get ourselves in a mental trap…especially if we have a laundry list of requirements that this mythical enigma of our perceived “perfect mate” is supposed to possess.

    Example – I was recently dating someone that I was somewhat unsure about at first because of some aspects of her life that I thought might be deal breakers. But as I got to know her I quickly realized that none of those things mattered one bit as I had such a good time with her. It was certainly not perfect nor like a Harlequin novel…but at the end of the day having someone in your life that makes you happy is what makes it all work.

    And thinking back to other women I’ve been involved with who did have those “required” things in their life…none of that mattered either as we weren’t a good match due to other far more important factors. So while my recent experience didn’t work out (again, due to other reasons) I have no regrets because I met someone that caused me to discard more of my preconceptions and focus on the individual…and what I learned in the process is more valuable than gold.

    • SS Says:

      I agree that “settling” has unnecessarily negative connotations. There’s absolutely no such thing as a “perfect” match so technically EVERYONE is settling.

  4. SS Says:

    Whenever I’ve been in a period of attracting only unavailable/ambivalent men, it’s always been because I’ve been ambivalent at that time, so it may be worth checking your own psyche to see if you’re *really* available yourself.

    That being said – it stands to reason that the majority of the man pool are unavailable or idiots, because decent relationship minded men are IN relationships!

    There are good men out there, it can just take a while to find that needle in a haystack. Work on being the type of person you’d want to date. Stay positive and open to all possibilities, eschew shallow picking criteria, and inevitably a good one will arrive.

    • mxf Says:

      This is really well-said. I would say, though, that there are lots of reasons why people find themselves back in the dating pool… the idea that decent people are already paired off plays into that “all the good ones are already taken” mentality that implies that what’s left are the dregs. I know what you mean, but that thinking always got me down, as it made me feel both like I’d never meet anyone and that I was a sad dreg myself for finding myself dating in my mid-30s.

      I wonder how the OP *knows* when she comes across a man who wants to date her while he waits for his next girlfriend (#2 on her list). That’s… a weird theory, or projection.

      • RedNeckGeekGurl Says:

        Sad dreg for finding yourself dating in mid 30s? Wet pants laughing on that!

        Many of us (of whatever age) are out there for whatever reasons … And most are good people – in some sense or another. YOUR good person? Maybe not … or maybe …

        Moxie was making the point that you need to understand that the unlimited options do not exist – regardless of age. Or even regardless of how hot/cool/freaking special you are. For every woman who swears she only meets players or married guys … She ignored how many real guys? Fine by me – that means they are still around for someone who recognizes value when they meet it.

        Pretty boys? First husband cured me of that …. Bad boys? Cured myself of that ! A real man who sees me as a real person? And smiles every time he sees me? Yeah … Height? Who cares … Wear heels or don’t … Money? Does he expect you to support him? No ? Fine … A brain? Yeah – that’s non-negotiable…

        Settling? Nope … Learning!

      • JayD Says:

        “it stands to reason that the majority of the man pool are unavailable or idiots, because decent relationship minded men are IN relationships!”

        I completely agree with what you stated, especially on the middle/older-aged men, myself included. But I also find that a good portion of women in the same category are insufferable.

        The selection bias applies to both genders.

        • uesider Says:

          I agree that an outside of the women AND men of all ages in the dating pool are insufferable- that’s why they are in the dating pool. No one can be found to suffer them.

    • KK Says:

      I think it’s really silly to think that most of the good men are in relationships. What I have noticed is that there are a lot of shitty guys in relationships and there are a fair number of great guys who are single. I think it’s more important to know why someone isn’t in a relationship and/or why their last relationship ended.

      Also. a lot of people treat other people really shittily in relationships. All those great guys in relationships, all those women in committed relationships, most likely they WERE bad partners to someone else. All we can do is hope we learn from our mistakes.

      • SS Says:

        So you’re belief is that the majority of men on dating sites are the good guys?

        Someone here the other day mentioned the book “Attached” by Dr Amir Levine: his book explains at length that avoidants are *always* more heavily represented in the dating world.


        “People with the avoidant style tend to re-circle very quickly into the dating pool. They think, “Okay, I’m moving on to the next person.”

        That’s one of the reasons that they are over-represented”

    • BTownGirl Says:

      I don’t know y’all, I feel like there are a lot of great single guys. It makes sense, considering that the great guys in relationships had to have been single at some point! I think sometimes people think of “great single men/women” as some sort of finite natural resource and once they’re in a relationship, they’re gone baby gone and there’s no more where that come from. Pssssh, I think not! :)

  5. natalie Says:

    No more Dater X articles? Awww…

    • SS Says:

      She’s had one fauxlationship and a couple of shags. I could write more about dating on the back of a postage stamp than I’ve read in that snoozefest.

    • BTownGirl Says:

      This week she finally admitted she doesn’t actually want to date, but then she had to ruin it by fronting like she’s going to soldier on (no doubt through some autumn leaves in poignant sunlight and sh*t). I’ve got nothin’.

    • ATWYSingle Says:

      I didn’t see the point. It’s just more excuses why she’s not dating and some pretend introspection. At this point it’s literally the same 5 people showing up every week saying the same thing. The people advising her to try Meetup and otherwise pontificating in the comments are either bored out of their minds or too fucking stupid to realize the girl either has a foot growing out of her forehead and doesn’t get dates easily or she doesn’t want to try.

      She’s showing up to get a paycheck at this point. Amelia will keep her on and tell everybody how suuuuuper popular is, but it’s pretty obvious nobody cares anymore, and the few people who comment are so fucking fake/annoying even the comments are worthless.

      • SS Says:

        I don’t go there to pontificate, I go there to mock :)

        I hate that I am saying that but it’s just SOOOOOO bad that I can’t help myself.

  6. The Original D Says:

    Settling down means settling for. Doesn’t matter how attractive or rich you are. You’re not going to meet someone who’s perfect. At best you’ll meet someone who checks enough boxes and makes you feel good about your decision most of the time.

  7. Noquay Says:

    Several previous commenters stated this well “there are many reasons you may suddenly find yourself back in the dating pool”. Very true. My marriage broke up and I found myself a very reluctant single because my life was being threatened over my research. I assume this is no bad reflection up my character. The man I am seeing is a widower. I met him IRL not on line. Some areas have a plethora of desirable men, some have none. This is mainly due to socioeconomics and regional culture. I date out of area for this very reason. In this region, older men attractive men have more quality choices simply because there are more stable, educated women than there are men. Again demographics, socioeconomics, nothing really to do with the character of the person. Know your area. If no women are having success, its a regional issue. If it’s just you, well it’s you. A man who is a serial cheater just got married here, not because of the goodness of his character. Bad folks do get into relationships and often more easily because they are ruthless in their pursuit. Very bad people can and do maintain relationships. The OP states that she is “approached” by these men. I suspect she is meeting these dudes in a bar or similar setting. That’s where hookup seekers, rebounders etc lurk. Here, smart women avoid venues like ski resorts and bars; it’s called the “ski and screw” crowd for good reason. Go to art openings, farmers markets, folk dances, volunteer at running/cycling events instead. On line, keep in mind that 99% of the men you encounter will be unsuitable. Profiles and pics may be great but talk to the dude and truth will come out. This is where you have to use your Spidey senses. The types of men the OP describes will show a lot of hot/cold behavior. See this, you run. About settling: I define it as accepting some quality or group of qualities in a partner that are unacceptable to you yet you stay so as to not have to be alone or get back out dating. Some women settle for financial security, some because they’re desperate to do the family thing; many reasons. No, I don’t think settling in this definition is good. Accepting something that’s a constant point of contention to you does not end well and the other person gets hurt. Even if it’s something shallow, the other party is going to know they’ll never please you and that’s simply unfair to them and wastes both your time.

  8. Jef Says:

    Compromise is one thing. Settling is another. If I settled I would have married a verbally abusive shrew. She gave me an ultimatum and I dropped her like a hot rock. And I have never regretted it for one second.

  9. Donnie K Says:

    There are several points that can be taken from Moxie and the commentariat (I admit it, I wanted to use commentariat in a sentence).

    Anyone who paints the opposite sex with a broad stroke (players, bitches, etc) needs to take a long hard look in the mirror.

    The idea that “all the good ones are taken” is an idiotic mindset that will keep one perpetually single.

    I think the word settle should be used cautiously because it’s so easily misunderstood. Settling should not mean dating people you’re not attracted to. Too often, that’s the interpretation. Having realistic expectations and limiting deal breakers is essential to surviving the dating landscape. Unfortunately, there are many folks that simply “don’t get it” and will continue to behave in a clueless manner.

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