The fine art of settling.

17 Jun

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.


20 Responses to “The fine art of settling.”

  1. Joyce McBride June 17, 2010 at 1:35 pm #

    Obviously written by a female. Forget this stuff about compatibility! Men can be well past their prime, pot-bellied, pants dragging and with no teeth, but they still have the self-esteem to think they don’t look like idiots chasing after the toned girls of their daughters age. Like they’re looking for compatibility? ha! But we women of the same age are overlooked to invisible if we’re 20 pounds overweight and/or not sluts. If you’re not married when you hit your 50s, you’d better either be rich or a nurse, because that’s what the guys looking at YOU will want. They’ll be in their 70s to 80s, on their last legs, and looking for a nurse with a purse. No, I’m not “settling.” I might have lost my flower of sexuality, but I’m still the daughter of the Most High God. I’ve got other attributes that make me worthy of being loved ~ AGAPE loved. And until some guy can see and appreciate me without demanding sex I’ll just stick to my relationship with Jesus Christ and my loyal girlfriends.

  2. Athol Kay: Married Man Sex Life June 17, 2010 at 3:21 pm #

    The failure of Pick Up Artist types to sustain a LTR or marriage is legendary for exactly the reasons you state in this post.

    Perhaps it would all be less brutal if we called it “deciding” rather than “settling”.

  3. Aunt Haley June 17, 2010 at 9:54 pm #

    Perhaps it would all be less brutal if we called it “deciding” rather than “settling”.

    It might be less brutal, but it would also be less accurate, since one can “decide” to go for the brass ring instead of the ring one can actually reach. :\ The idea of settling is unappetizing to the American psyche, but many of us will have to do it in order to get married.

  4. Athol Kay: Married Man Sex Life June 18, 2010 at 4:54 am #

    I meant decide, as in decide to love someone within reach.

    Settling sounds like failure. Decide sounds like a choice.

    Ultimately love is what you do rather than just a set of feelings for someone.

  5. Athol Kay: Married Man Sex Life June 18, 2010 at 4:55 am #

    So how is it working out for you?

  6. Josh June 18, 2010 at 11:59 am #

    I don’t think settling is the right way to describe it either. Settling implies that you are getting less than you think you deserve.

    But what do we deserve? We deserve nothing – it is God’s grace that keeps us. Everyday is a gift, and every kindness God shows us is a gift. Now, I understand this, but deep down, I don’t believe this, because I cannot fully comprehend the Gospel message. I suspect all Christians struggle with this.

    Now to relationships. The primary goal is to form a Christ-centered relationship where each ministers and supports the other, not in a fuzzy-gender-equality way, but where the man protects and leads, and the woman supports and nurtures. We should have a frank understanding of the realities of the sexual market, and human nature, but we are not animals. Through conscious will we can shape our actions.

    The question shouldn’t be “am I marrying the most sexually-desirable partner I can possibly attract?”, but “is this person someone with whom I can build a lasting, God-fearing family?” For men choosing wives, physical-attractiveness is an important part of that equation. It is easier to cherish your wife if she is also beautiful. It is easier to resist temptation. It is easier to be kind, self-sacrificial, and patient. It’s not the only consideration, of course. If she is ill-tempered and crude, it doesn’t matter how good she looks.

    Does all this sound un-Christian? Well, certainly. We should not base our kindness on looks. But again, men are not saints (or eunuchs, despite the best efforts of some churches), and we would be fools to think otherwise. God used Esther’s beauty to save the Israelites, we should be similarly practical.

  7. Cane Caldo June 18, 2010 at 4:16 pm #

    It ought to be said that both Jesus and Paul counseled against marriage, but allowed it for the sake of weakness. I suspect biases of attraction were one reason why.

    Aside from that, there is no strict prescription for how wives should be chosen. Solomon talks a WHOLE lot about the beauty of a woman; though not to the exclusion of nobler traits. Jacob (good enough to be renamed Israel) worked 14 YEARS for the pretty sister. Talk about playing the long Game.

    Speaking of that, proponents of Game think a 6 that scores a 9 companion will indeed be able to keep her if he can keep his Game going. Indeed, the “master Gamer” is one who Games without knowing…like being in the Tao. They also think a 9 who scores a 6 runs the risk of losing her if his Game is not good enough. Overall, it seems that a man’s score in Game is precisely equal to the score of the woman he gets. Ergo, a 6 can’t get a 9 or vice versa.

  8. Aunt Haley June 18, 2010 at 11:29 pm #

    Jacob (good enough to be renamed Israel) worked 14 YEARS for the pretty sister. Talk about playing the long Game.

    Talk about having a horrible case of Oneitis. There must have been a babe drought in the area, too.

    Speaking of that, proponents of Game think a 6 that scores a 9 companion will indeed be able to keep her if he can keep his Game going.

    Theoretically, this is true, but not in practicality. A man with 6 looks who can keep a female 9 long-term without ever tripping up is actually a 9 himself…he just has other compensating character traits. But a man who is a true 6, through and through, won’t be able to keep up the charade indefinitely; the stress will be too great.

  9. Thursday June 19, 2010 at 7:42 am #

    Men, if you are a 6 who somehow Gamed yourself into scoring a 9, how long could you keep her without losing your wits?

    False premise here. Game can turn a man from a 6 into a 9. Routines and other techniques are just training wheels. You have to absorb the attitude behind them into your personality. You become indistinguishable from a natural.

  10. Thursday June 19, 2010 at 8:03 am #

    I love to complain about how Evangelical women are too picky, so I’ll take the opportunity to do so here again. But I think we have to distinguish here between settling for someone who is less attractive than you want and settling for someone you are not attracted to at all.

    That Evangelical women avoid the latter is entirely understandable. A complete lack of sexual attraction is a truly rotten foundation to build a marriage on. If a woman has no attraction to the man at the start, it will never be there, and having to have sex with him will only make him more repulsive. That’s bad. So, whether or not they stay together it isn’t going to end well for either of them.

    However, I do think evangelical women should be more encouraged to settle for someone who they are attracted to but who isn’t their ideal. In a world where a woman can hold out well into her thirties, female hypergamy, her taste for the absolute best, tends to work against her. For most women, Prince Charming is never going to come and she’ll end up with one of the modestly attractive men around her anyway. Furthermore, once a woman, particularly an inexperienced woman, has sex with a man she is at least somewhat attracted to, her attraction to him tends to go up. She will likely be glad she settled.

  11. Athol Kay: Married Man Sex Life June 19, 2010 at 8:06 am #

    That would seem to be a very unusual occurance based on how even the PUA masters can’t keep a LTR together.

  12. Cane Caldo June 19, 2010 at 8:10 am #

    That’s what they say. I’ll tell you: though I believe in Game, the rating system part of it breaks down. People (like us) get caught up in trying to parse the numbers. Too many factors; it’s like trying to determine “What is art?” We just know intuitively who outranks whom, not precisely why.

    Back to Jacob and Game: I wonder how much pre-selection played into the story? Leah probably didn’t care about Jacob until Rachel fell in love with him. Dad (Laban?) probably agreed to the trick just to shut her up and get her out of the tent.

    By the way, Thursday, I keep meaning to check out your site more. Can’t go wrong with Chesterton.

  13. Cane Caldo June 19, 2010 at 8:21 am #

    But is that because of a failure of Game? Is it the Gamer leaving, or the Gamed?

  14. Thursday June 19, 2010 at 8:58 am #

    I have some better explanations as to why PUAs can’t sustain relationships:

    1. Selection bias. The seduction community disproportionately attracts men who want a lot of STRs. Men who want a lot of STRs are generally not good LTR material to begin with.

    While more sober types have been seeing the virtues in learning game, mostly through the evangelism of Roissy, the people attracted to such an outcast movement at the beginning tended to be really weird guys. Not a lot of LTR potential there.

    2. Options. There’s always a new and different whore down at the bar and open relationships are inherently unstable.

    3. Venue selection. You meet lower quality women (using LTR criteria) at the bar.

    4. Selection bias, part 2. Unwillingness to continue seeing women who won’t put out by the 3rd or 4th date.

  15. Thursday June 19, 2010 at 9:08 am #

    Neil Strauss’ relationship with Lisa Leveridge is frequently used as an example of how PUAs can’t keep an LTR going. But look who he met her through: Courtney Love. Rock guitarists for the likes of Love, no matter how cool they are to hang out with, are probably not going to make good LTR material. The sad fact is that most “bad girls” tend to get bored with even the most alpha of guys. They crave the new.

  16. Vodka and Ground Beef June 20, 2010 at 1:45 pm #

    I like this line the best: “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.”

    Now that’s some good advice. I’m going through my catalog of good-looking, single, male friends and I’m going to trick all of them into going on at least one date with me. Then I’ll just see if the chemistry is there.

  17. Aunt Haley June 21, 2010 at 8:48 pm #

    Don’t forget to report back with the results.

  18. jlw July 10, 2011 at 6:40 pm #

    AH forgot to mention the following truth: if you can’t be attracted to the MOTOS in your league, and you can’t significantly raise your league, it’s better just to stay alone, forget about romantic relationships altogether, and concentrate on other areas of your life. This axiom was one of the most important keys to my happiness in life and yet no one talks about it. What do you think AH, worth a post from you?


  1. Word Around the Campfire – the Father Knows Best edition « Hidden Leaves - June 19, 2010

    […] Aunt Haley: The Fine Art of Settling […]

  2. Blaming current ideals of beauty. « Haley's Halo - June 21, 2010

    […] You want someone of a caliber you can’t realistically hope to attract. Age, wealth, looks, talents, intelligence, etc. are goods you bring to the mating table.  Don’t overestimate the value of yours.  If you’ve got a 5 face and a 20-lbs. overweight body, the charismatic, single, multi-talented church worship leader isn’t going to go for you, no matter how amazing a man of God he is or how good of friends you think you are…or how much your female friends encourage you to keep your hopes up because you are an amazing person. […]

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