Settling for Mr. Good Enough

Found this vintage McDonald’s commercial on Jezebel.

One of the commenter’s had this to say,

“Women settling since 1988.”

Rob thinks women have been lowering their expectations for a while longer.

Settling is such an interesting concept because it is based on the premise that having expectations of others is always a good idea and that accepting people for who they are – realizing that no one and nothing can avoid the alterations of time at any rate – is not the best way to go about judging people (I would use the would “assess”, but I don’t think that many of us do that).

I remember the commercial. I was twenty-five and I knew women like the one in the commercial. Shoulders padded and Melanie Griffith business suits that ran the gamut of neutral colors with the occasional sea-foam green thrown in to show “the Man” that they were still women and not going to conform completely. Men hadn’t changed nearly as much as women had in terms of roles yet and the smell of fear was palpable in the dating arena.

Settling. Play this scenario out about ten years and you’d find that he was a store manager and she was just getting back into the workforce because both of their kids were now in school all day, relieving them of the crushing financial burden of childcare. They needed her job to help them pay for the extras necessary to keep up with the neighbors in the new subdivision where they’d built a house. They are happy-ish but probably too tired to notice. Her friends, the ones who never married, think he’s held her back. His think she is a nag who is never satisfied and hasn’t held up well physically. They fight a bit but mostly they work, parent and household before collapsing into their queen sized bed to watch Survivor and falling asleep to the ten o’clock local news. Settling.

Or not. This is the life for many, many people. They think they have it all, even if “all” is a little exhausting to maintain. Their Facebook updates overflow with minutia about kids, television and material acquisition. They might not always be sunny and optimistic, but they are more content than not. They are happier and count themselves more fortunate than their single friends at any rate.

When I was twenty-five, every guy I knew was like Larry. No expectations. That way nothing was lost and failure was impossible. How I avoided marrying a Larry, I will never quite understand.

I am attending a workshop with Michael Stone this weekend and at last night’s lecture, he mentioned that in his current book project he is musing on love. Well, not love in the rom/com way but more like intimacy. It wouldn’t have to be romantic, though that is generally what grown-ups in our culture focus on (that’s my opinion, by the way, not Stone’s).

Anyway, he said something I found interesting in light of all the backlash against Lori Gottleib’s new book which is essentially the perennial single woman’s dilemma in our brave new world.

Do I wait for Mr. Right or settle for Mr. Good Enough?

Stone says this*,

Love essentially is. It exists always around us. We, however, don’t notice  – or we deny it – because we can’t let go of our stories. These stories are those internal narratives we cling to in order to validate how we feel or to justify our lives and actions.

In other words, when a person is willing to simply get on with life and not worry about whether or not love will come into it in some way – it will show up. Mostly because it was there all along.

So, Gottleib’s argument – irritating as it is – makes sense. Women, and some men, have constructed such elaborate narratives to explain their continuing single state that they leave no room for perfectly wonderful people to become a part of their story.

And now, I am off to a five-hour asana practice**.

* I’m paraphrasing and oversimplifying in the process no doubt, but it isn’t far off what people’s married/couple friends constantly parrot, is it?

** Well, not the whole five hours. Practice will be about 2 ish with lots of demo stuff and talking about it after.