Why do women settle?
I asked out loud one day, seemingly to no one in general.
I was in an airport bar, down south, with some colleagues. Waiting for my flight, nursing a beer. The TV over the bar was talking about a study that said a lot of women settle. Often big time.
But I already knew that. My question was why.
I asked the question in an off-handed, casual way – you know, just out loud, filling the time.
But I was really only asking the girl sitting next to me, and she knew it.
Because she was settling. And she knew it. And she knew that I knew it.
And we were beginning to fall hopelessly in love. And we both knew that too. So it suddenly became a lot less abstract for me.
Now, there were about 416 reasons why this was a bad idea that shouldn’t, couldn’t and wouldn’t happen. I won’t bore you with them. But suffice it to say that, for both of us, some kind of switch had been activated deep inside. Like a new gravitational pull had been created – a swirling storm that was inescapable and brilliant and only ours. No way we could escape it. No way we wanted to, despite the cost. And the cost was high.
Her name is Francesca, which I’m using for anonymity’s sake. Francesca, as in Francesca da Rimini, who was a contemporary of Dante Alighieri.
Dante was an Italian poet in the late Middle Ages. He wrote something called The Divine Comedy. Now, it’s hard to be a writer. Harder still to be a good one. Everything you write is ultimately a reflection of yourself, so if you write something and put it out there for all to judge and also have the balls to call it The Divine Comedy, that’s good enough for me. Plus it is considered a masterpiece of world literature. Which ain’t too shabby.
In the piece Francesca falls completely and hopelessly in love with a guy named Paolo, and then pretty much all hell breaks loose. Doesn’t end well for them. You should really read the tale.
So, hence Francesca, and my question.
By any objective measure, she’s a 10. To me she’s like a 914. Always will be. But for context sake, take my word for it – she’s a 10,
the kind of woman that stops conversations when she enters a room.
The kind that graduated Magna Cum Laude. The kind that self-taught herself how to write code. Yeah, that kind of once-in-a-lifetime combination.
She didn’t really truly see it, though, didn’t really understand it beyond the guys trying to get into her pants, which was all too obvious even when I was standing right there (which was always kind of funny). She loved the attention, mind you, and she often dressed for it. But deep down she never believed what I told her, that she was an angel.
When we were happily together she used to say that she never wanted to be out there in the dating world at her age, how happy she was with me and that she knew what was out there. She hated even the thought of it and after settling in a major way the first time around with the guy before me, she never wanted to do it again.
But that’s exactly what she chose to do.
Now, the guy before me was nice enough. She called him perfectly good. But he was also short, balding, pudgy and strangely and exceedingly hairy. I knew them as a couple. Never saw it. Was like a 10 with a three. Maybe a four. Started as a college thing and just kept going. I sort of got that.
I was the polar opposite of that guy, and in fact of all her other guys.
And we were that couple, the couple that turns heads everywhere.
The couple you see and it makes sense. The couple you secretly hate.
Each of us has been called many things, but we’ve never been called average, individually or collectively.
As lovers it was like a burning fire had been lit inside us. Like beyond what we thought possible. Like begging me to stop so she could catch her breath and vice versa. Just wave after wave for her.
And as good as that was, our intellectual connection was even stronger. We shared books and debated the events of the day. We were comfortable in silence. We both loved Pachelbel.
For the first (and probably last) time in her life, she had found an equal. To say we were soul mates and had a profound connection would be an understatement. Most importantly, to me anyway, was that we were best friends as well.
Fast forward to today. Dependable is her description of the new guy. And like the old guy, he’s average – at best. Nothing wrong with that if that’s how the gods of fate played their hands for her.
But it isn’t fate. We were the fate card – her and I – and I’m pretty sure you only get one of those in life. No, this is a choice, a disparate calculation involving age, the available pool of guys out there and who in her circle of friends and family are getting married and having babies.
And whether she winds up marrying this guy or a similar version, at the end of the day, marry she will. And while they will never know that they were simply in the right place at the right time, she’ll know.
Sometime, in the middle of the night, as she looks over at the lump in bed next to her, she’ll know that my question to her from so long ago still stands.
She’ll know she settled, again. And she’ll know that I know it.
So now pretend it’s you in the bar next to me. I’m buying.
“Why do women settle?,” I ask.