Last year Lori Gottlieb wrote a book called “Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough.” With the firestorm that exploded on the blogosphere you’d have though she was advocating for child labor or animal cruelty. She regularly received comments such as “You are an affront to the entire women’s movement! You should be ashamed of yourself!”, “Could you be any more desperate?”, “I am totally appalled by your need for a man.”, “Get some self-esteem!” and more along the same line.
Her point is actually salient though. What she was getting at was that so many women and men give themselves absolutely unrealistic standards expectations. While instilling self-confidence in our children, we tell them they can be anything, do anything. In relationships we are often told so often that we should hold out for our “soul mates.” A lot of times I see people looking past the person they are currently with as a stepping stone and don’t take the time to actually BE with that person. With all the Rom-Com movies and Disney princes and princesses we are exposed to growing up, it can lead to unhealthy standards. When out and about on various social endeavors, I love talking to singles about their trials and travails. So often I hear women espouse things like, “He’s got to be over 6 feet, he needs to make more money than me, he needs to bring home little gifts for me….” While those things would be great to have in a partner, many of these women won’t even ENTERTAIN the thought of dating outside of their parameters. Right next to them could be a 5’10” guy, temporarily laid off who is a swell dude and they’d never know it. These same women then start aging, waiting for their prince to ride in and guess what? It’s not going to happen. Then they start looking back at the guy they broke up with because his nose was too big or was still in grad school or any number of little reasons. By the time one ages enough to realize what is important to have in a partner and what is not, we may have passed up many fine catches in pursuit of an ideal, a false idol that cannot possibly exist under the weight of its own attributes. Gottlieb’s point is to not let your life pass by, blind to what is right under your nose. Remember that old quote “shoot for the stars and you just may get the moon?” Always shoot for the stars! Just remember that the moon is a viable option.
Another facet of this emotion is not appreciating what one has at the moment. Not every person we date will be marriage material or even LTR material. It doesn’t mean that we won’t find joy with them or learn about life and ourselves. Too many people focus on the goal and don’t enjoy the journey. Not all of your longest relationships will be your most passionate. The hot, tatted-up bartender may not be someone you could ever bring home to your mother but that doesn’t mean that you can’t take enjoyment from being with them. I get frustrated when I hear someone say, “Well she’s not someone I would marry so I guess I have to break up with her.” Just because the endgame may not be “together forever” with her doesn’t mean you can’t have weeks or months of fun and quality time. Enjoy them for who they are and for what you can learn from the relationship. Everyone on this planet has something they can teach you whether they are in your life for 30 seconds or 30 years. It’s our job to figure out what it is. Without trying to sound trite or talk in generalizations, make sure your standards can be reached. And whatever type of relationship you find yourself in, try to enjoy it for what it is. Good luck in your search!
Originally published in The Hudson Reporter