Everybody settles

The only question is when you do it:

Obviously, I wasn’t always an advocate of settling. In fact, it took not settling to make me realise that settling is the better option…. I know all this now, yet here’s the problem: much as I’d like to settle, I can’t seem to do it. The very nature of dating leaves women my age to wrestle with a completely different level of settling. Consider the men older women I know have married in varying degrees of desperation over the past few years: a recovering alcoholic who doesn’t always go to his meetings; an actor still trying to make it in his forties; a widower with three nightmare kids who is still actively grieving for his dead wife; and a socially awkward engineer, so socially awkward that he declined to attend his wife’s book party.

It’s not that these women are crazy, it’s that the dating pool has dwindled dramatically and that, due to gender politics, the few available men tend to require far more of a concession than those who were single when I was younger.

Since most people don’t understand the first thing about economics, they don’t understand that there is an opportunity cost to every choice one makes, including the one about whom one marries. And just as in athletics, there is always someone better-looking, wealtheir, smarter, taller, more artistic, more caring; someone out there who possesses more of whatever it is that you find attractive.

Now, I’m not the nicest, most attentive, best-looking or wealthiest guy that has ever been interested in Spacebunny. And the “makes me laugh” factor isn’t there either, since my sense of humor tends to appall her more than it amuses her. Could she have done better if she’d played her cards precisely right? Quite possibly, but instead she chose to settle relatively early by current standards. And interestingly enough, I have observed that it is the women who settle between the ages of 21-25 – the age when they meet their eventual husband, not when they actually get married 12-24 months later – who generally appear to do better by conventional societal measures and be happier than those who marry someone they met in high school or in their thirties. The fact that this roughly corresponds with what is generally considered to be the peak of female attractiveness may be a coincidence, but it probably isn’t.

Men face a very different challenge than women due to the legal and financial risks inherent in modern marriage. For them, it’s less a question of settling and more a question of risk management.

The good news is that since everyone settles in one way or another, there’s no logical reason to allow the nonsensical stigma of being perceived to do so to interfere with your decision making, whatever it might be. And never forget that love is much more a choice than an emotion; the first kind grows with time while the latter tends to fade over the years.