As a man of the people, sometimes I like to crowd-source sex, dating, and relationship questions. One such question I asked for and received was from PolyGalSeeks, who you might remember from Episode 114 of the podcast, Talk Poly To Me. I asked for a dating question, and she delivered:
What if I am dreaming too big? How do I know if I am throwing away something great and maybe I should settle instead?
I think that all of us, deep down, have an idealized version of a partner. Our tastes, our idealized version of a partner are subjective, so whether or not we’re dreaming too big will also subjective. I think some people should settle, because they really do dream too big when it comes to dating, and some people shouldn’t. Let’s take me for example. My dream partner would be someone who is smart, funny, compassionate, kind, someone I find attractive, supportive of me, and independent. Because my list is fairly short, and fairly attainable, I’ve learned that it’s not a good idea for me to settle. I’m not settling if I date a brunette, or a redhead, or a blonde, nor am I settling if I date a size zero or a size 14, because I don’t really have a preference outside of “is attractive to me”. But maybe it is a good idea for you to settle.
Let’s say that you cared a bit more about the superficial, and I use the term “superficial” as in “existing on the outside” and I use it without judgement. Let’s suppose that your ideal partner had to have a six-pack, make over $150k a year, and had to have a graduated from an Ivy League school. If this was your dream partner, I would highly encourage you to settle on some of those things. There’s nothing inherently wrong with any of those characteristics individually, but finding those characteristics in one person would be pretty hard to find. If you found someone who was all those things, but went to MIT, it’d be foolish of you not to settle for them. That’s an extreme example, so here’s a good guide for figuring out whether or not you should settle.
First, make a list of the attributes your ideal partner should have. Make the list as comprehensive as possible, considering the physical, social, personality, and so on. Next, figure out how much you value these things. If height is important to you, how important is it? What are the things they absolutely need to be compared to things that are preferred but not necessary. Finally, figure out whether or not those characteristics are likely to occur individually, and as a whole. For example, it’s more likely that you’ll find a man who is 5’10” in the US than it is to find someone who is 6’2”, but it’s not impossible to find someone who is 6’2” anywhere in America. Now, as a whole, if you were specifically looking for a 6’2” tall, Jewish guy who graduated from Princeton at some point between 1970 and 2012, based in South Dakota, it is incredibly unlikely that you’ll find that guy because only 3.9% of the adult male US population is 6’2″ tall, only 0.03% of the population of South Dakota is Jewish, and only 70,500 degrees have been awarded by Princeton between 1970 and 2012. So if that’s your ideal guy, my apologies, but I think you should settle, because he might not actually exist.
What you should and should not settle on you’ll need to decide for yourself, but I think that settling on superficial stuff is always good idea, and settling on personality/social stuff is a bad idea. Instead of trying to date someone who attended an Ivy League school, maybe settle a bit for “graduated from college and is financially stable”. Instead of looking for “has a six-pack”, maybe settle for “is physically fit, active, and I find them attractive”. The most important thing here is to figure out what your deal-breakers are and if they’re reasonable, what would be nice to have, but not necessary, and find someone who is a nice middle ground for all of those things. Of course, all this advice is predicated on the idea that you are looking for a relationship. If you’re looking for casual sex, be as picky as you please. 😉
One final piece of advice, think of it less like “settling for less” and more like “settling for realism”. Picking someone who is a good fit, but isn’t the idealized version of who you’re looking for but damn close to it isn’t “settling for less”, it’s just being realistic.
Good Luck Out There.