Does “settling down” mean “settling”?

“You’ve dated a lot of men now. You’ve been seeing a terrific guy. Why don’t you just decide to focus on him and settle down?” My friend was concerned with my playing the field and thought I would be better off just choosing one man on whom to focus.

“But if I know he’s not yet lighting my fire, aren’t I settling? I want to be excited by my man. I like this man a lot; we have a lot in common. I’m glad when I know I’m going to see him, but not excited.”

“Then why do you still see him?”

“I’m testing the theory that you can become more excited about a guy after you get to know him well. Some say it’s true. I haven’t experienced that before. He’s too good a guy to not at least give it a try.

“We have both stated that we’re not yet in love. We are building a foundation of friendship. So I wonder at what point do we say, ‘We gave it a good run. We’re both very fond of each other. But neither of us has fallen in love. So we should declare we are really good friend material.’”

“I just hate to see you go up and down the emotional roller coaster. It must be exhausting.”

“Actually, it can be occasionally, but generally the roller coaster is pretty sedate. Once in a great while I’ll get my hopes up then watch them get dashed. But luckily that’s pretty few and far between. I guess I’m becoming a better man picker, even if I haven’t figured out the formula for a picking a great guy for me. At least I don’t find myself with many drama kings.”

So what do you think about settling down with — and settling for — someone who doesn’t excite you but has many, many, many wonderful qualities? Would you give it a go and see if you could find a way to get your motor revving when with him? We know that too much sexual energy can mask glaring personality flaws. What about medium energy on your side, but high on his?

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10 responses to “Does “settling down” mean “settling”?”

  1. nysharon Avatar

    Keep giving it a go. When you think of someone else when you are with him or you think of something you rather be doing than be with him—it is time to give up. I have been on a dating hiatus since September and would give anything to be with someone who’s company I enjoy and go with the flow. You are right to hang in there, and date others if you wish. The cream will rise to the top.

  2. PreviouslyQofE Avatar

    I guess, after having a couple of relationships along these lines that did NOT develop into love/chemistry, I would say it is very unlikely that it will develop if it doesn’t develop very shortly after starting to date. And now that I am in a relationship with a wonderful man, with enough chemistry to blow the roof off a high school laboratory – and that’s not everything, we’re also great friends and companions and altogether compatible – I see what was missing from those other relationships.

    There’s nothing wrong with friendship, and if you’re not exclusive and dating other guys, then you’re keeping your options open. I ended a very casual dating relationship after four dates because I did not have that ‘excitement’ about seeing him, despite the fact that we got along okay, and it was companionship after a five month hiatus. For me, I have to have the gut-wrenching attraction at first, and for a long while afterwards, as it develops into deeper attachment, but I know plenty of people who are content with the lack thereof, and don’t think of it as ‘settling.’

    Guess it’s up to YOU, DG: are YOU willing to settle for someone who is not yet lighting your fire after HOW long?

  3. Rodney Avatar

    You know DG, I was going to write you about this very thing the other day. My theory is that dating many people has an apogee, that is a point at which it becomes the ‘law of diminishing returns’. After a certain number of dates the likelihood of finding the right one becomes less likely because the number of possibilities is so great that the ability to decide becomes diminished. However, I dont know what the number is. For some it might be 5, for another 50 and another maybe 500, although my guess is that it is easier to find and settle on the ‘right one’ with a lower number than a higher one. I think Mr or Mrs Absolutely Perfect doesnt exist but Mr or Mrs Darn Great and Im Willing to Commit does.

    Thats probably not an exciting theory given your present situation but Im still testing it 🙂

  4. Elena Avatar

    In my book, settling is just grabbing whatever falls on your plate and eating it although you don’t really like what has been presented to you. The person who settles constantly wonders what they have missed, lives with regrets and wishes he (or she) could turn back time and not repeat the same mistakes.

    Settling down is making an informed decision after having been presented with multiple choices and picking one and feeling content and secure in that choice. The person who settles down is happy and grateful and looking forward to the future.

    I agree with Rodney. The “gut-wrenching attraction” and “enough chemistry to blow the roof off” situation that PreviouslyQ describes are all good and well but not indications of a long-lasting, fulfilling relationship. In fact, that level of chemistry has only one place to go, and that’s down. I’d rather be in a relationship where the attraction grows and unfolds gradually, not a super intense, white hot, ohmigod!! attraction because that type of attraction never lasts. That said, I do agree with what NYSharon said, so I think if DG has given this guy 3 months and it’s still not still happening for her, she should let him go come the new year.

    Totally off topic….What ever happened to BookyOne? She used to post comments daily and has disappeared in recent months.

  5. Devon Avatar

    I have had a few of those white hot intense attraction relationships and I agree they only go downhill, rather quickly. I admit they’re also great fun. Recently I met a wonderful man who treats me well and has many good qualities. I have feelings for him and see the potential of a mutually supportive, loving -dare I say adult relationship. I don’t think of it as settling it feels like a clear choice to me. Settling isn’t fair to anyone.

  6. PreviouslyQueenofE Avatar

    I have to tell you all that it’s not one of those “white hot” intense attraction relationships – in fact, at first, it wasn’t like that at all. It was not lust at first sight for me. The chemistry developed very QUICKLY, though. NOW it’s a gut-wrenching attraction! But it was preceded by conversation and time spent together doing things that would have quickly shown compatibility or lack thereof. We are both active people; our first four dates consisted of 1) dinner & drinks (the usual), 2) a movie (which wasn’t very good, which we agreed about), 3) racing go karts, and 4) sailing a 13′ catamaran and a 44′ catamaran in the same day, cooking supper aboard the big catamaran as the full moon rose. By then, the chemistry was apparent and the moonlight sail on the 44′ catamaran was very romantic! Granted, intimacy soon followed, but I have decided that I am working on MY timetable these days. The time it takes to reach that level on each relationship differs.

    What I was trying to say was that if it isn’t there pretty soon, it’s not likely to develop, at least for me. I’m only sharing my own experiences, here. I haven’t dated a lot – because that doesn’t work for me, I tend to either have exclusive relationships or cut my losses early – so I am not speaking from a lot of experience. But I feel very fortunate, as does he, and optimistic about the future with this man, as I am having very different feelings about this guy as opposed to the other men I’ve been with in the past six years since my divorce. Mututally supportive is something we’ve actually talked about, as he is also a ‘relationship’ person, and he agrees that is one of the most important (if not THE most important) aspects of a relationship.

    For now, though, I am enjoying that chemistry immensely! And I must say that I met this man through mutual friends and a work relationship – not online. I had already given up the online thing, based on what/who I’d met so far, and a lack of time to devote to it. He had been online too and decided to give it up for the same reasons. He comes with the social circle references that DG wrote about some time ago, so I have more confidence in his integrity.

    It’s just like they say – when you least expect it, when you’re not looking for it, it drops in your lap. I have done online dating for a couple of years but not steadily; I’ve allowed myself breaks, much like farmers allow their fields to lie fallow a year or so to rejuvenate. DG, I have to say, I don’t know how you do it; I’m kind of with your friend here, don’t you find it emotionally exhausting to date non stop? Or did I miss something, and you DON’T date non stop?

    Best wishes for a wonderful 2008 for everyone!

  7. Dating Goddess Avatar

    Hi PQE:

    I’m happy you’ve found someone great! Yeah!

    To answer your question, I don’t date non-stop, but go in spurts. I can go for a month or two with no dates, then have a rash of them. I have two lunch dates with two new guys in the next two days. But then I’ll have a month of nothing (or at least I’m assuming nothing!) while I’m in Asia in Jan.

    I think it’s only emotionally exhausting when you get attached. I’ve learned to create a little distance (generally) for a little while. But once in a while I fall wham bam on the first date!

  8. Amuzeme Avatar


    I came out of one of those white hot relationships two years ago. It was only recently that I could say I do not want to see him and actually mean it. Wow, this was the first time in my life that I ever experienced something like that and I have to agree with you, it was VERY addictive.

    So now my little dilemma, for the past 7 months I’ve been trying to date. I am now on my second online dating service and so far both have flopped. I can’t seem to like anyone that contacts me. I tried dating this very nice guy but I could not feel anything for him. Just like you mentioned in your post, I kept trying because people tell me that love can grow after knowing someone for a while and he, like your guy, has very good qualities. I finally gave up and as told him in the kindest possible way that I was just not developing feeling for him.

    I am so concern that I will end up settling. Is there such a thing as the middle ground? Is it possible to fall in love without the intensity that you discussed in the other post? My older friends tell me that at my age (41) I should date with my head not my heart. Does we really have to settle?

    Thank you for sharing this blog with others. I often find myself reading your posts for advice.

    Happy New Year,

  9. Dating Goddess Avatar
    Dating Goddess


    I’m glad you’ve moved on from the white-hot relationship if it was a toxic one. They are so hard to get out of and the memories keep pulling you back in, if only in your mind.

    Regarding the online services flopping, it depends on your definition of flop. If you met no one who was interesting or remotely suitable, then yes. But if you met some interesting men and none of them worked out long term, I don’t consider that a flop, although I know most would.

    I think the “middle ground” is knowing no one is perfect, and no one will likely meet all your fantasies of what the exact right guy will look, sound, and be like. I think you hold on to the most important qualities for you and the rest is negotiable. The Playgirl guy I mentioned recently is exactly my height. I like men a few inches taller so I can wear heels without feeling like I’m towering over him. But you know what — he has so many great and rare qualities that I’m willing to wear flats or shorter heels or just get over my issues if it works out with him. So sometimes deal breakers can be overcome if there is enough other stuff that makes you weak in the knees. And if he passes the friend test. I think our friends — assuming they are open minded and not hypercritical — are the test, as they seen the glaring faults that we overlook in our smittenness.

    I think at midlife, we need to date with both our heads and our hearts. In fact, I think any time you’re considering anything long term at any age, both have to come into play.

    And thank you for your kind words. I’m grateful to you and others for reading and commenting on my blog postings.

  10. nysharon Avatar

    Amuzeme>I think when you meet them your heart should make a little sigh at least. Whether it is the way they look, or what they say, or how they make you feel.