EST. May 2000 (AD)


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How to Settle For Less With Pride

By Sarah Schaffner

Over the years, settling has gotten a bad rap. But it didn’t always carry such a negative connotation. Just look at the pioneers. It’s right there in the name. They’re called the “Early Settlers,” not the “Early Maybe-we-can-do-betterers.”  If they had just gone on and on searching for greener pastures, they would have roamed right off the map into the Pacific Ocean. Someone had to lay claim to Arkansas, right? And that someone is you, Davy Crockett.

Look, we don’t know how to tell you this, but your mother was wrong. You can’t do better. In fact, this sorry excuse for a man you parade around on holidays out of sheer desperation, complete with unibrow like a caterpillar crawling across his forehead, mommy complex and feet that smell like cheese, is probably as good as you’re gonna get. So you might want to consider staking claim to that mole-hill of a man, and not look a gift horse in the mouth- even if said horse has terrible garbage breath and constantly asks to borrow money.

It’s not your fault. Who wouldn’t have an over-inflated sense of self-worth when being constantly besieged by friends and family members’ insistence that “You can do better!” No matter who you brought home through the years, this one was always “too self-absorbed,” and that one was “too controlling,” or when this one gets out of prison he “might try to kill you.” You’ve been conditioned to believe that Mr. Perfect is out there. And he is. He just isn’t interested in dating you.

But that’s okay! Not everyone can be brilliant- as your high school aptitude tests clearly demonstrate. And despite what Grandma says, not everyone is beautiful. Someone has to provide the blasé backdrop of mediocrity from which others, more beautiful and talented that you, may shine.  I mean, what is this national obsession with being the best anyway? Always having the need for distinction is a bit narcissistic, in our opinion. There are plenty of starving children in the world who would be happy being slightly below average. Or, marrying him.

And there are plenty of occasions where settling is the preferred option. Where would we be without a judicial system where you could settle out of court? On jury duty, that’s where. If we couldn’t settle on a mortgage, we’d all be living in tents in our parent’s backyard. For good this time, and not like that three month period a few years ago when you fell on hard times. And what did your parents always yell at you when you were growing up? No, not that one- that was only when mommy was drinking her “bad medicine.” The other one- “Settle down!”   See? You’ve practically been programmed from birth.

So maybe you’re not in “love” with him, but you’ve never been one for labels. “Love,” “Like,” “manage to tolerate in short spurts without vomiting,” what’s the difference, really?  After ten vodka gimlets, all your feelings start to numb anyway.  So here’s to you and your new “plus one.”  He may not be the greatest catch of all time, but he’s a warm body that fills up that lonely space, if not in your heart, at least on your couch.




Sarah Schaffner is a freelance writer and editor living in Baltimore, MD with her husband Jeff, son Avery and three poorly behaved dogs. She writes a monthly humor column in For Her Information magazine and could very well be the last human on earth who does not belong to Facebook. Or does she?

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