Why Settle for Less? #MarriageFail

Jamie Reidy encourages single twentysomethings to hold out for Ms. Right, not settle for Ms. Not Too Bad

Once upon a time, the word “settle” denoted self-reliance, determination and hope.

In the 1800s, the settlers headed westward, dreaming of new lands and new lives. Sure, the journeys would be arduous, possibly even deadly, but the rewards might be worth the sacrifices and risks.

Today, according to Jessica Bennett’s, ahem, engaging new article at The Daily Beast, a new breed of American settler has emerged. Louis L’Amour would not have recognized these dudes.

Ms. Bennett refers to an anthropologist’s recent study that shockingly reveals “31 percent of adult men said they’d commit to a person they were not in love with—as long as she had all the other attributes they were looking for in a mate—and 21 percent said they’d commit under those same circumstances to somebody they weren’t sexually attracted to.” Further bucking stereotypes “the equivalent numbers for women were far lower.” Researchers discovered that the percentage of guys in favor of quitting early on the search for Ms. Right actually increased for respondents in their 20s.

That information is enough to make a 42-year old, childless, never been married/engaged fella scratch his balding scalp and say, “WTF?!”

This modern day “settler” dreams of nothing new, for he has witnessed through his older friends, coworkers and relatives the lack of joy in most relationships. His journey? It’s as comfortable as the sofa he bought with Ms. Not Too Bad. His rewards? Painful silences, infrequent sex and DVRed episodes of “Real Housewives” and the Kardashian Octomoms.

Dozens of married men – and women – have given me the unsolicited advice to stay single for as long as I can. Interestingly, no one has ever insisted, “You gotta get married tomorrow, man!  It’s the greatest!” True, every parent says his kids make it all worthwhile, but you will find that the price is much higher with the wrong partner.

Brother, a nice personality and good sex don’t equate to a lifetime together. What are you hoping for there, that things don’t get worse? That’s like hoping your college team just manages to keep it close against the #1 seed in March Madness.

Hold out for greatness. The rest of your life is too valuable.

If you wanna be a “settler,” then move to a new city. Sure, the journey could be arduous and risky, but you might just strike relationship gold.


Photo courtesy of Jay Adan

About Jamie Reidy

Jamie Reidy is a former U.S. Army officer turned little blue pill pusher turned author. His first book "Hard Sell: The Evolution of A Viagra Salesman"
served as the basis for the movie "Love and Other Drugs" starring Jake Gyllenhaal. Jamie is currently writing his new book, "Game On: One Fanatic's Fantastic, Foolish and Futile Attempt to Attend 365 Sporting Events in 365 Days." He discovered his latest story featured on Good Men Project - "Hope Shoots and Scores" - on Day 39 of his crazy journey.


  1. This does not surprise me. I am 25 and recently a 22 year old joked around about marrying me because I was the only one to put up with him. Lots of young men have this I will take what I can get attitude when it comes to relationships. I never want to settle nor do I want a man to simply settle with me. I want us to feel like we hit the jack pot or struck gold. I want us to high five each other and be like f**K yeah your’re the best. Seriously though, my generation does have a very bleak outlook on marriage so it could be that we are just throwing in the towel. But if marriage means misery then I would prefer to opt out rather than settle for less than what I want.

  2. I think this discussion needs some perspective.

    The other day my roommate’s best friend was lamenting a failed relationship with a guy I told her wasn’t worth her time long before she dated him, but she tried anyway and tried to look at his good points.

    Doesn’t that put so called “settling” in perspective?

    A LOT of women are with guys that aren’t worth their time because they don’t think they can do better, and they cope with this by noting the guy’s good points or putting a “happy face” on things.

    Meaning: people of both sexes settle, the difference is that maybe men are just more honest about it. I can’t tell you how many times a female friend has broken up with a boyfriend, and then slowly began to admit that he wasn’t quite the man he pretended to be.

    The other thing is to consider how these men value women in the first place, if a man is simply looking for a “partner”, or someone to have a family with, it could be that “love” isn’t really on his priorities, he just wants to get laid, not be alone and have someone to serve certain functions as far as family and the like. In short he views women as a commodity. I’ve had friends who were sort of on the desperate side and would be happy to settle, none had a healthy view of women.

    Just a thought.

  3. The Daily Beast article to me really struck a chord in its inane stupidity. This quote, in particular:

    “Give me a friend I get along with, have good sex with, and is willing to compromise, and I’ll build the love over time,” one man, a Colorado computer instructor, told me. It was as if he was echoeing the advice given to many-a-young-bride by the village matchmaker.

    Is it wrong to be looking for love among friends? Does love just magically happen overnight? Should we not indeed date people we actually get along with, rather than are hormonally attached to after a nice night at a bar?! Of course love takes time to build! It’s these stupid, fairy tale notions that are to blame for the absurdity that has become the modern “dating game.” It’s not a goddamned game. Get over yourself. Compromise IS part of life.

  4. John Sctoll says:

    I just wanted to say about divorce. I have never been thru it, but I had the unfortunate experience of seeing a very good friend of mine go thru it.

    It was heartbreaking to see a loving father and children be abandoned by their wife and mother for a guy she met on the internet and had (until she left) never met in person. She was gone.

    To see how the family court treated this man was just downright disgusting. For a number of years, he was the only parent these children knew, he got no child support and no any other type of support from mom but the moment she came back into the picture the court literally bent over backwards to give her custody. They even gave her custody after her oldest son (16) found moms drug stash and tried to sell it at school to make some extra money. Yes, they knew it was mom stash, I was there in court when she admitted it. The judge actually gave her ‘credit’ for admitting it was hers and told her how much she much have loved her to son to face the consequences of admitting it. Fact was, she got a suspended sentence and maintained custoday.

  5. John Sctoll says:

    My opinion is that life has to distinct parts

    #1 Material Life
    In this case, imho, married men will be worse off than single men. They (not everyone of course) will have less money to spend on themselves.

    #2 Emotional Life

    Now this one is trickier because a good number of people are happy being alone, having good friends and that is enough, they don’t need that one person to love. For them, single men are better off, but for the rest of us, we are better off in a relationship with someone.

    AND don’t even get me started on Divorce and what it does to Items #1 & 2

  6. Eventually, men will recognize that getting married is itself “settling”–settling for a life measurably inferior in almost every way to staying single. MGTOW will become the default. And I, for one, welcome that day.

  7. I was totally happy to be alone my whole life apart from the children thing (I was considering perhaps making it official and becoming a nun).
    Then I met a guy, my first real boyfriend, now I am considering the hope one day we will get married.

    Life alone is different to life with another person. I think the other person life is better, not because it makes you happier (I was more consistent in my happiness on my own because I never felt guilty for anything). It’s better because being forced to compromise and not just do whatever you want all the time makes you a better person – and in the end, even if its not as pleasurable, I would say it is for sure more fulfilling.

  8. Jamie Reidy says:

    Agreed, Amber!

  9. I find that article so bizarre too. It was chilling, to say the least, and made me think of arranged marriages where the best the two could hope for was a deep friendship that “might” one day culminate in love. I mean, honestly, if you want to get married just to keep yourself from feeling alone, you’re not going to find that if you can’t feel whole all on your own.

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