There’s a lot of talk these days in both the Christian community and mainstream society about settling. The story usually goes something like this:
Before the sexual revolution, you could only get a 6 if you were a 6, a 3 if you were a 3, etc.
Nowadays, 1s through 10s are going for the 10s, leaving everybody else out in the cold until they are forced by necessity to settle, resulting in aged, dessicated husks of formerly semi-attractive women going for the nerdy beta providers they couldn’t stand in high school; or, if the 10 is a man, he has his entire lifetime to keep playing the field.
The solution? Sound the drumbeat of settling!
This isn’t necessarily bad advice, especially when you consider that the dating/mating market ultimately bows to pragmatism. For example, if you’re holding out for a physical 10 who matches your laundry list of must-have character traits, and you live a town populated by beer-drinking pizza-eaters whose idea of fine fashion is Kmart, you will either have to lower your standards or move somewhere else…or pray that God not only bring Prince Charming to Buckville but also have him fall in love with you. Similarly, the market adjusts to what is actually available. I’ve seen plenty of men online gripe that they go to a highly ranked college and all the women there are trolls who act like they’re 10s and can get away with it simply because there is no one else sluttier better-looking available.
The real strength of settling, or settling wisely, is that it most enables you to find a mate who will both make you happy and whom you can make happy with the least amount of stress. Everyone brings a different set of goods to the mating table. Common sense dictates that those with equivalent (and complementary) amounts of goods are likely to mesh the best. If Person A is very attractive, very smart, very athletic, and very creative, she could make Person B, who is of average looks, intelligence, athleticism, and creativity quite happy with no trouble at all. But how could Person B, who is inferior to Person A in all of those attributes, reciprocate? Person B would be killing himself to keep Person A’s attraction centered on himself. And what happens to Person A/Person B’s relationship when Person C, who is very handsome, athletic, smart, and creative enters Person A’s sphere at work? How much easier is it going to be for Person A to find points of commonality with Person C than with Person B? Mismatches of goods result in inherent instability within a relationship because one person will always be playing catch-up.
This dynamic is why I find some adherents of Game to be somewhat delusional, at least if they are interested in an long-term relationship, especially one leading to marriage. Here you have all these grown men howling about how a female 6 (not a bad-looking person, objectively) is practically an insult to them – but I highly doubt that internet enclaves of Game devotees are all 8s or above. Men, if you are a 6 who somehow Gamed yourself into scoring a 9, how long could you keep her without losing your wits? How difficult would it be to fend off the competition? Could you ever relax in the presence of your 9 without fearing that you’d revealed your inner beta and destroyed the house of cards you’d built? Ultimately no one can hide from the truth-extracting powers of time and familiarity.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is the notion of settling that seems to be pushed in the Christian community, which is to find someone who is “godly and available” and have that pretty much be the end of your criteria. The idea of having sex with the other person is about as appealing as having your tooth drilled? Please. How is that at all important when the other person is stable, debt-free, and loves Jesus? Give yourself a decade and let the chemistry develop…eventually. By the way, marriage is for life and you only get one shot at it!
I think the best thing to do is take a look around you and see the type of person who is in your milieu. This is the type of person that you’re naturally the most comfortable with — you wouldn’t be friends with people it was hard to be friends with, right? So it makes sense that in marriage, a lifetime friendship (with benefits!), you would want to be with the type of person you were most comfortable with. If the people around you are a cut below the type of person you’re always trying to date, it might be time to reassess how good are the goods you’re bringing to the mating table, and to reconsider whether you’re pursuing someone who is realistically attainable. Likewise, if you find yourself constantly disappointed with your friends, it might be time for a friend upgrade…or a workout regimen.
Settling isn’t about feeling like a loser because you couldn’t snag an Adonis or Aphrodite. It’s about being smart about your future and making the choices that are going to result in the most harmonious match possible. But it also involves being realistic about yourself, which is probably the hardest thing.