More And More Men Are Settling For Ms. Good Enough

This week, my friend Arielle Ford, author of The Soulmate Secret, sent me a link to a Daily Beast article. The author of the article interviewed anthropologist Helen Fisher, PhD, of Rutgers. (Fisher has written five books and conducted extensive research on the evolution and future of human sex, love, marriage, gender differences in the brain and how your personality type shapes who you are and who you love. Her latest is Why Him? Why Her?: How to Find and Keep Lasting Love.) Fisher’s latest study is of singles in America.

Fisher explains it this way. “We have a stereotype in this culture that it’s men who are the ones who don’t want to commit, who don’t want to settle down, who are the scarce resources. But in fact, it’s the opposite.”

There’s an old adage: a woman who can’t find a man is a spinster; a man who doesn’t want a wife is the envy of all his friends. Fisher says “We have a stereotype in this culture that it’s men who are the ones who don’t want to commit, who don’t want to settle down, who are the scarce resources. But in fact, it’s the opposite.”

There’s an old adage: a woman who can’t find a man is a spinster; a man who doesn’t want a wife is the envy of all his friends.

Rather than living up to the stereotype of commitment-phobic bachelors, modern men reported that they fell in love just as often as women, and were just as likely to believe that marriage is “forever.”

The study found that 31 percent of adult men said they’d commit to a person they were not in love with –- as long as as she had all the other attributes they were looking for in a mate —- and 21 percent said they’d commit under those same circumstances to somebody they weren’t sexually attracted to. The equivalent numbers for women were far lower.

“There’s this transformation going on,” says Tom Matlack, co-founder of The Good Men Project, which aims to discuss and debunk modern male stereotypes. “It’s kind of like feminism on its head: for years, women were trying to earn the right to get out of the house, and here are all these men dying to get back into [it].”

Said one study participant, “We all marry our second or third or fourth best choice. It’s just life.”

This article echoes Lori Gottlieb’s Atlantic article-turned-bestseller, Marry Him! The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough. In it, Gottlieb counseled women to forget the search for a mythical soulmate and nab a good man who wants to be a husband and father (lest they end up, like Gottlieb herself, alone and regretful at 40).

Read the article here. As always, I’d like you know what you think.

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  1. 91

    hmmm… I suspect that “Helen” is THE HELEN & I 1st got into E.P. years ago & have been a big fan of yours, bought all your books…my question to Helen is: I posted my experience earlier in this thread…WHY? I understand that when a woman is above average in looks ESP in middle age, that female relational aggression comes into play BUT why would men,particularly on dating sites actively reject her EVEN AFTER they find her to be polite & kind, etc? I don’t think it is an evolutionary thing, but I could be wrong?

    1. 91.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      It’s not THE HELEN. And your question has nothing to do with evolutionary biology. Just because you’re pretty, polite and kind doesn’t mean men will enjoy your company.

      1. 91.1.1

        Ha ha Evan, talk to the men my & age & older who are single & looking…their #1 complaint is in older age, they cannot find a woman they’d even want to sit across from at a table on a dinner date ( I once went out w/ a psychiatrist who told me that early inn the evening plus plenty more- & many other men in my area have said the same) One man told me when he showed up for an internet date that 10 out of 11 looked nothing like their pic & that as soon as he saw them, he tuned them out & anything they said sounded like “Charlie Brown’s Teacher” (wah wah wah) & that he just wanted to get out of there asap!
         Then I heard a lot from men about women in my age category who look decent/pretty but seem very obviously “personality-disordered” & blast but not least, rude, mean, b1tchy & /or entitled…

        in the 55+ community the pickins are slim, so sorry Evan, I disagree, men will enjoy my company or a woman like me, even if they feel like they live too far away, or do not feel a commonality, etc.
        I had one man reject me cause, as he said ” I fear too much competition”! Sometimes these older men think a woman is too good for them & will dump them sooner or later…Way too much baggage!    

  2. 92

    Hmm, I’ve been with someone since I was 18 and now at 59 am by myself after a divorce and my husband’s passing.  I’ve been in an okay, love for a while and tolerable relationship and then a fantastic relationship that was once in a lifetime.  At this point am not settling for anything less than fantastic again!!  I want to be with someone I’m clicking on all cylinders with.  I’m not needy, am self-sufficient and not looking for someone to take care of me.  I would rather be alone and happy than married and miserable or settling for less than what I want.  There are plenty of guys to date if I just want a friendship or companionship now and then.  Just my opinion.  There are people who will settle for just companionship but that’s not me.

  3. 93

    Men settle because they are weak….myself included. We (men) should not marry under any circumstance. The risks associated with marriage are far too high. The decks are stacked against you. As soon as you take the “I do”‘s you’re like a brand new car driving off the car lot…you’ve lost almost ALL of your value because it all belongs to her now. DONT DO IT! 

      1. 93.1.1

        But it forgot to mention that the wife was standing behind him, with a rolling pin when he answered the question. 😛

        1. Fromkin

          Sometimes it’s a great big knife.

        2. Steve in Big D

          And sometimes the wife is standing behind you with an attorney, threatening to take your children away and never let you see them again. Aside from issues like this, marriage makes men happy.

      2. 93.1.2

        dude there’s studies showing everything on opposite ends of the spectrum. studies are bullshit in the end.

    1. 93.2

      Perhaps some of the younger men assess themselves or what they deserve way too “highly” LOL- a man who is a “5” ( I hate the number thing but for argument’s sake…) may lust after 8-9-10’s, thinking anyone less than an 8 is “settling” EVEN THOUGH HE IS A 5. After rejection by 8-10’s & even 7-6’s, he finally develops a serious relations ship with… a “5”, gets married & in his mind thinks he has settled. But the truth is, he is on equal footing now, but because previously thought he was going to get Barbie, Chatty Cathy is “settling” when in truth, she was his match all along.

      He is on the ladder as a 5, while he was perceiving himself to be an 8! 

      1. 93.2.1

        you’re actually describing women.

  4. 94

    Age and unrealistic expectations has ALOT to do with it. If you are a woman in your 20s your “expectations” are not so much “high” but rather “unrealistic” and even for “some” women in their 30s. 
    It goes something like this..”oh there is no way that i would end up with someone that makes less than at least 90K a year, is over 6 feet tall, dark and so handsome other women would salivate. He must also have X type(doctor, lawyer, judge etc) of career, buy me a big house and we’re going to have at least 2 kids, dog/cat white picket fence, he’ll be my knight in shining armor- a Prince…blah blah blah.
    Then when they find themselves still single by the time they enter their 30s (especially since most young men in their 20s are not set up career wise and don’t look like models or bodybuilders) and their biological clock is ticking hard, the ladies begin to descend from the fantasy cloud and begin to look at life & men in a more “realistic” way rather than something out of a Disney fairytale movie. Its as if the veil was lifted from their eyes and mind and they now find the more average male “attractive” “safe” “faithful/loyal” “husband material”. But in MOST cases this does not happen until a woman is in her 30s and beyond.
    My advice to men is this….Work on your Passions in life…your hobbies…your education….your career! Make friends, travel, explore, hunt, go fishing, diving etc. when you are in your 20s. NO MAN IN HIS 20s SHOULD BE GETTING MARRIED. Statistics show time and time again that those that marry under the age of 30 will be at least 85% more likely to divorce. Most men are simply not ready for marriage in their 20s!

    1. 94.1

      no men in their 30s should be getting married either. why would he want someone who wants him in his 30s but not his 20s?

  5. 95

    Speaking of good enough, there aren’t that many good enough women out there these days to settle down with.

    1. 95.1

      Not sure how this inspires women to understand men, grow, or change for the better.

  6. 96

    Some of the posts in this thread, I find a bit pathetic. Sorry to judge. A man who has confidence & a spiritual belief would KNOW that his God/Higher Power would put him in the path of the right woman.
    If someone “settles” then IMO they get exactly what they deserve…lukewarm, dull-as-dishwater relationships…
    And it’s not about physical chemistry either, it goes way deeper than that…I’m an old broad, I’ve seen a lot in my life  ;0)
    If a man was not absolutely crazy 4 me, I wouldn’t want him. And because I have that attitude, I’ve been lucky enough to have several long term relationships that were awesome…you get what you give…

  7. 98

    in my experience the girls who are at least an 8 9 or 10 either are slutty, like attention from other men, have multiple kids or have psychological issues.

  8. 99

    it’s one of those things where men are in a position where they realize that they don’t necessarily have the luxury of having a relationship with someone they love or are even attracted to. they want a family and realize that sacrifices have to be made.

  9. 100

    I am a 37 year old woman who is well liked by the opposite sex. The biggest problem I have found is I am looking for a partner and not a child. I am looking for someone that brings as much to the relationship as I do, puts in as much effort, understands the relationship needs to be fed, has relationship skills (communication, conflict resolution etc.) Immaturity is the downfall of your sex, we want evolved men.

    If not, we would rather be alone.

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