Sunday, March 16, 2008

Do we "Settle"?

I was just reading another blog about whether or not women "settle" for less than they ask for in a partner as they get older. The blogger posted a rather funny gag, and asked if readers thought that we (we women anyway) settle as we get older. It got me thinking.

I personally don't believe I've changed what I'm looking for in a partner, but then I think I've always had a bit of a different attitude to the whole thing to most of my friends.

I've always thought it a bit strange how many young women create some kind of list of attributes that a potential mate must have. Women that I would not in any way consider shallow, but they seem to create a list that is quite arbitrary. Things like hobbies he must have in common with her. The type of job he must have. How he dresses (I read a newspaper article that said women won't accept a man who dresses in a shirt an tie anymore, they must be more fashionable and casual!) Whether or not he can dance. Things like that.

A little while ago, I had a friend tell me "I'm just looking for a man that's right for me. A tall brunette man (I couldn't date a blonde!) that works in the corporate environment, is able to ballroom dance, loves French films and other arthouse cinema and well, he should be older than me."

This boggled me. I mean, this is an intelligent young woman who I would consider emotionally mature. But she had this kind of identikit man picked out that she would accept as a potential partner for her. And she's not the only one.

Where I think the argument about women settling comes in, is that many women expect this kind of tailor made man to be out there somewhere, but then they never find him. Or they find another wonderful man, and he doesn't fit the identikit, so they reject him. Or they meet a guy who fits that identikit... and he's a jerk. So they're eternally disappointed. Then perhaps they realise that those things they'd listed are actually not that important, and they change what they are looking for. And folks assume that it is settling for less than they wanted before.

Me personally, I think it's realising that there is MORE than what they were looking for. Realising that what is attractive in a man is not his hobbies, or his ability to dance, or his job etc. What is attractive is respect for himself and others, the fact that he has a work ethic (as opposed to a particular job/career), his sense of humour, his intellect, his honesty etc. The other things, the commonalities... well they'll be there but who knows in what sense? My first love and I had only really one thing we had in common by way of hobbies and interests, but in the course of our relationship, we shared so many things and introduced each other to new hobbies and interests, things I still have a passion for many years later.

So I don't think it's a matter of women settling as they get older, but shifting their focus and expectations as they mature. I think perhaps the attitude that women "settle" comes from an archaic attitude that if a woman gets past a certain age, then she's "on the shelf" or an "old maid".

Sadly that attitude is still really prevalent in our society.


Robin said...

I didn't have a list of "must-have" qualities, but I did have a list of "must-NOT" qualities. :) Things that I'd put up with before that I knew were crucial flaws I had no interest in dealing with again! But I've never worried too much about shared interests. My biggest interests are reading and writing, and I've never dated a guy who liked to read. It would have been awesome, don't get me wrong, but I wouldn't not date someone for that reason.

But I've heard a lot of avid readers say they could only date another big reader.

Queen Etherea said...

So I don't think it's a matter of women settling as they get older, but shifting their focus and expectations as they mature."

i totally agree. as i grow more mature, different qualities are more important to me. i'm not as big on a hot gothic party boy as i am a stable worker and a stable, warm loving man. time and perspective change a lot of things... but i don't think it means that you are "settling" for less out of some sort of archaic old maid fears.

Anonymous said...

Hey hon. I don't think I ever had a list of qualities. The things I looked for weren't physical, it was all in personality. It mattered how he treated people, and of course me. How caring and loving, and if he was an overall good person. No one is perfect. It's just finding the right fit for you. As for having things in common, Dan and I have very few. We don't like the same music or movies. He is kind and tolerant of watching my movies or listening to my music, as I am with him. Other than the movies of course. All that is important is the chemistry and how you fit.

Sleepydumpling said...

I'm like you Terri, I don't have that kind of "must fit list" that so many other women had, I've never had it.

And you and Dan are a perfect example of how two people just fit together so well!