Settle: accept or agree to (something that one considers to be less than satisfactory)
I think of this often when it comes to my love life. There have been relationships that I could have stayed in. But in many ways I felt like I was settling. It just felt like something– never sure what though– was missing.
But there are some that advocate for settling, believing if you wait too long for the perfect partner or the perfect marriage, he or she may never arrive. I can dig it. As a single woman in my 40’s, I might be the poster child for what happens when you don’t settle.
Previously, Bleek G. shared his thoughts on the status of single black men. Our discussion eventually turned toward the topic of settling. I secretly wondered if it meant the same thing for men that it does for women. What follows is his take.
Settling in relationships
By the time they have reached their 40’s, its assumed (or hoped) that men are established professionally. With that comes an expectation of a family, a wife, a home and other symbols of accomplishment. According to Bleek, a single male past the age of 40 is viewed very differently. “Never been married. Never been engaged. Now they look at you like something’s wrong with you.” He stated that women often question older single men about their sexual orientation, inferring their single status means they are gay or bi-sexual.
Life circumstances can cause men to settle. Bleek recounted the experience of a male friend who married, but did so because the woman was about to have his child. Although he cared for her, keeping his family together was why he settled. She was not the person he loved or wanted to be with. They are now headed for divorce.
Another reason that single men may settle is sheer loneliness. The person they are with is the best they will get. They may not be “into” the person or may not want the person in certain ways. But they will stick around. “The woman may treat you better and in the way you wish someone else would,” said Bleek.
Also, expectations change as you get older. Bleek noted that his younger self wanted a woman who was “visually stunning, someone your friends wanted just as much as you do.” As he’s aged, that view has changed. What’s important is how he is treated. While he still wants someone who is stunning, but for his eyes only. He is far less concerned about what his circle of friends thinks about his woman. Is that settling? Maybe. Maybe not.
To expound further on this, Bleek shared that younger men don’t always think about the long-term. In their 20’s and 30’s, young men have not really lived enough to know what they want or what they need. “Young men aren’t thinking about qualities, whether she will be a good mom to my kids or if she will have my back,” said Bleek.
That all comes to a head as the single man gets older. “As an older man, I don’t know that many single women in my age group. And the ones that I do know, what they want or will accept may differ due to life circumstances.”
A recent news report discussed the ongoing jobless rate for black men, which continues to be a serious issue for the U.S. black community. Bleek noted that for the unemployed single man, settling may be par for the course. “Unemployment is not attractive to women,” he bluntly stated. Women can’t see building a future with a man who is unemployed, even temporarily. Men then feel they are not worthy, setting up their own internal roadblocks. Perhaps settling for women who will tolerate their circumstance.
Finally, Bleek indicated that fear and the passage of time may cause men to unknowingly settle. “Some men just don’t want to look anymore. They have given up on finding the right one, so if someone just happens to come along then they stick with it,” he said.
A natural outgrowth of this topic, we started to talk about the pros and cons of single life versus marriage. In the next post, Bleek shares why marriage may not always work for older singles.
This post was inspired by the WordPress E-book: 365 Writing Prompts.