Sunday, February 14, 2010

Mr. Right vs. Mr. Good Enough

I just stumbled across the most interesting article, just in time for Valentine's Day. In it, the author discusses why she has come to the conclusion that it is sometimes better to settle for someone who may not come up to the skyscraper-high expectations that you and I and the Western world have set for love, marriage, and happily-ever-after. Here's a short clip from her article "Marry Him!", published in The Atlantic (March 2008):

"Obviously, I wasn’t always an advocate of settling. In fact, it took not settling to make me realize that settling is the better option, and even though settling is a rampant phenomenon, talking about it in a positive light makes people profoundly uncomfortable. Whenever I make the case for settling, people look at me with creased brows of disapproval or frowns of disappointment, the way a child might look at an older sibling who just informed her that Jerry’s Kids aren’t going to walk, even if you send them money. It’s not only politically incorrect to get behind settling, it’s downright un-American. Our culture tells us to keep our eyes on the prize (while our mothers, who know better, tell us not to be so picky), and the theme of holding out for true love (whatever that is—look at the divorce rate) permeates our collective mentality."

I found this interesting , because she is right: We DO have ridiculous standards for love and for our mates, and we drag those standards right over the altar with us into family life, making it almost impossible to be happy. It's as if we sabotage our own chances for happiness by making it so difficult for anything to be enough... as if we have to have glamour and magic and pure ecstatic joy every single day in order to have a happy, satisfied, contented life. Well, do we expect the same thing from our friends? Do we denigrate friendship the moment someone disagrees with us or eject them from our lives every time they lick their lips the wrong way or snort while laughing? Do we expect our own children to be perfectly adorable and loving and kind at all times, and then belittle parenting or reject family life when they act out or talk back to us? If we do, we shouldn't; we ourselves can't be held to those same standards of perfection, so who are we to demand others do so? Let's show a little love, here, people!
I only disagree when the author starts talking about "sub-par" partners and "sub-par" father figures. Just because someone doesn't fit the exact mold of Mr. Right, Mr. Perfect, Mr. Awesome, doesn't mean that they are sub-par; it just means they're different. And in the end, is that so bad? What's more important: To find a loving and stable and happy home in which to raise a family and share a partnership, or to find that perfect person with everything you desire and nothing you don't, at all costs? All I can say is, if my husband had waited for the perfect woman, he'd still be single.

So think about it... maybe "settling" isn't the term we ought to be using; maybe it would be more accurate to say that we are "accepting" someone, faults and all, and committing to love and honor them as human beings instead of waiting forever to find the Ideal Man or Woman... who doesn't really exist.

On that note, Happy Valentine's Day! Or, for those of you against the notion:


  1. I still have pictures from the Happy Fucking Valentine's Day party! We had such a good time!!!
    I really liked your comments above and I think its a very valid point that expecting perfection is just not a plan for success in any relationship.

  2. That party rocked the casbah! Next time we need to have one as married ladies... maybe in the Bahamas or something! ;)

  3. Oooooh! I'm liking the way you think! Bahamas, Mexico, any place with great little umbrella drinks and cabana boys will work for me!