I swore to myself, several weeks ago, that I would rather have 600 words of blank space on this page than write about my personal life again this semester. But a recent revelation has forced me to write, once again, about my “romantic” life.
In the past few weeks, my love life has been practically non-existent, except in a couple of isolated incidents. Two friends told me that a man I was very loosely involved with was, in essence, not good enough for me. Flattered though I was, I shrugged off this idea, even though I agreed with them to a certain extent. I joke far too often that I’ll know I’ve become all-powerful when I coerce some poor man to marry me, yet even I had to put aside such self-deprecation to acknowledge that I could find better men. I cast aside my friends’ remarks for one simple reason, however: the two friends in question were men.
I flatter myself in thinking that men reading this are scoffing, calling me a crazy feminist, “difficult” in the worst possible way. But this is not the case; if anything, by thinking that women should ditch love interests who aren’t good enough, men are correct, for once. It’s a crazy idea, but this had to happen eventually. Well-meaning male friends are convinced, always and forever, that their female friends should never settle in anything from long-term relationships to the most casual of hookups. They say, pleadingly, that women shouldn’t deign to become involved with anyone who doesn’t scream “perfection” and “undying commitment.” This line of thinking is a fantastic, wonderful, logical idea; so of course the modern woman can’t believe in it.
Women today are aware that in order to eventually find the right man, they have to settle for far less than perfection to find “the one.” I hate thinking about the ideal man in such terms – as though there is only one, and that finding him is seemingly life’s most important goal. In reality, dating all the wrong people is both horrible and fun. Horrible because the movie-and-dinner routine with a horrible date is a few hours that neither party will ever get back; and fun in the drunken commiseration that follows and the new, bittersweet knowledge that you’ve gained about the latest type of person you should avoid dating in the future.
My female friends understand this; when told about this latest man who was presumably not good enough for me, there were giggles and knowing looks. I was told to keep everyone updated, even though they were all aware that this wouldn’t go anywhere and accepted without question that I was too good for him (they are my friends, though; it’s not like they were going to sing his praises over mine). They understood that being loosely involved with this person is either a phase, just for fun, or a way for me too weed out the men I should avoid in the future at all costs. Male friends cocked their head with a look that clearly asked, “Are you oblivious? Or just desperate?” These men are either strongly protective and caring, or clueless. The women I know are either gritting their teeth while smiling with encouragement and support, or clueless. The men have the right idea, yet are deeply misguided; their sincere innocence is both amusing and infuriating. The women, however, are sensible and resigned, which is really the most disappointing aspect of the “should we settle?” debate.
There’s no clear sign as to who is right here. Really, we are all just clueless and still learning, one day at a time. Despite recent insight and a slight loss of hope, I will continue to settle as my crazy schedule allows. I’ll resume learning which men are horrible for me, and try to regain the hope that one day I’ll find the right one who feels the same. And if they don’t, there’s always coercion into marriage.
Do you agree with Lauren Robeson, or is she just completely crazy? Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.