I’ve extolled the virtues of not settling in many past columns, and I stand by the thought that nobody should stay in a relationship that just isn’t right for them. You shouldn’t want something that’s mediocre with someone to whom you’re not attracted or who makes you unhappy.

But there’s a mistake a lot of guys make. They think settling means that the girl has to be some sort of perfect connector to your every issue, your every like and dislike, your every thought. You two must be perfectly matched on every spectrum and that’s how a great relationship looks. The truth is that you will never find someone perfect. You’ll find someone perfect for you. This either means you’re not seeing girls at all based on dumb factors, or you’re ending relationships as you’re “not on the same path.”

So how do you know if you’re settling or being too picky? I’ll tell you.

You’re also being picky if you make less money than her. Don’t pout. It’s great. Enjoy it. Don’t take advantage of it, but appreciate it.

YOU’RE BEING PICKY.

Different Jobs:
My girlfriend is a florist and a model, and I run a technology PR firm. One might say that that’s not a good match, as she wouldn’t understand the vast majesty of whatever it is I do every day. Many guys make the mistake of finding a girl who they think is on “their level,” which is a stupid statement, based on their career path. While on paper this sounds great—who doesn’t want to say they’re in a power couple?—it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to work out. In fact there can be bad situations: ones in which you’re competitive, for example, where the woman in relationship makes more money than you do (or as much) and thus said dumbass man gets mad at that and they argue. Furthermore, the complete opposite can be great. It’s wonderful to come home to someone who doesn’t do a very similar corporate thing to you. Because then you don’t have to talk about that.

Now, you may say “well surely she won’t understand your corporate job,” but not only can I explain that to her, who gives a shit? I can come home and say client X pissed me off or potential client Y didn’t want to work with us. She gets that. She doesn’t have to know every aspect of my business, nor do I need to understand the world of flowers intimately to say “oh, yeah, that blows that someone was rude to you about an arrangement.”

You’re also being picky if you make less money than her. Don’t pout. It’s great. Enjoy it. Don’t take advantage of it, but appreciate it.

Varying Musical Tastes:
Okay, so let’s be clear here. If she listens to something that you absolutely despise, that makes your ears bleed metaphorically or literally, fine, whatever, ask her to not play it around you. If she won’t, then I guess there’s an issue. If music is her life and your life don’t bother reading, because I can’t help you.

Apart from the most frustratingly fucking annoying people in the universe, most relationship music disagreements just involve her listening to stuff you’re not a huge fan of. If the rest of the relationship is great, you can take the occasional trip in the car or go to the occasional concert of something you’re not a huge fan of. If she’s got a terrible voice and must sing along, eh, that’s annoying, perhaps say something diplomatic about it kind of giving you a headache. If it isn’t that annoying, just deal with it, man. She probably deals with a bunch of annoying shit you do.

Friends Who Don’t Fit Together Perfectly:
There’s something that I’ve seen a lot in the movies that I’m not sure really exists. It’s this vision of a couple together that somehow every couple has mutual friends, then two separate groups of friends who all approve of her and like her. Her friends think you’re just dandy, and your friends think she’s smoking hot. She loves all of your friends, you love all of hers. You also have some sort of hilarious couple that you hang out with and have and it’s never weird.

Right?

Wrong.

So, let’s be clear that if all of your friends hate her and all of her friends hate you, well, that’s a huge issue. If her best friend hates you or your best friend hates her, that’s also going to be an issue. This doesn’t mean that they’re not your biggest fan, I mean that they despise you and think you’re trash (and vice versa). If you just don’t like them, that’s fine! If you’re not buddy buddy with her social group, that’s okay! Can you tolerate them? Great! If you walk into the room and everyone goes quiet and doesn’t want to talk to you, well, that’s a bad sign.

In reality, your girlfriend will probably not like all of your friends. In fact, she may not like any of them. If she won’t tolerate being around them, that’s shitty. And if you find her friends annoying, but tolerable, that’s just fine too. If you don’t have a mutual couple friendship, that’s also fine.

If you leave a relationship because you believe that you have to have some kind of amazing mutual friends group that mingles and is oh-so-amazing, like the show Friends or Cheers or some other thing about friendship, you’re an idiot.

He felt he had a real connection with the girl in question but decided, you know what the titties weren’t as big as I thought. He’s been chronically single most of his life.

She Doesn’t Have a Rockin’ Supermodel Hot Body and Porno Makeup At All Times:
Let’s preface this one by saying this isn’t me saying, “Oh looks aren’t everything,” and some other useless platitude. You need to be attracted to this person and she needs to be attracted to you. However I can’t even count on my hands how many guys I have seen drop a girl for looks. A girl who was quite attractive who they then got to the naked no-pants-dance and they said, “Eh, she doesn’t have a flat stomach.” Or perhaps it’s the girl who took off her makeup and she had a pimple. Or she has a slightly smaller cup size due to the bra she wore on the date.

Basically these are tiny details because guys have watched a lot of slam-jamming pornography, or movies with women in them where they somehow get up after a bout of lovemaking with perfect hair, or they’re just really dumb.

I don’t get guys sometimes, but I know a guy who wouldn’t see a girl again—I’m not kidding—who wore a bra that made her boobs look just a cup size larger. He felt he had a real connection with the girl in question but decided, you know what the titties weren’t as big as I thought. He’s been chronically single most of his life.

Slightly Sexually Incompatible:
She wants it more than you, or you want it more than her, but you still have a fair amount of sex? She occasionally turns you down? She doesn’t like going down on you, or vice versa? Eh. This is where your intuition will have to come in, but if it’s a case of her occasionally saying no, but you’re this ultra-dominant dude who must bone down when he must bone down, well you’re a dick and going to ruin your relationship.

YOU’RE SETTLING.

Serious Intimacy Incompatibility:
Let’s get this one out the way—if you are otherwise happy people but your sex drives are different, you’re in a wild ride of feeling disappointed. It works both ways. If she wants it way more than you do, you are going to feel like your space is being invaded. If she wants it way less than you do, then you’ll feel frustrated and frankly some guys do not take no for an answer and they’re scum. If a girl doesn’t want it, she doesn’t want it, no matter how much you two love each other. Sorry. Not your body. It’s hers.

This isn’t just about having sex, though. It’s also about cuddling, kissing, holding hands, generally any kind of affection. If she’s a colder person who doesn’t want to cuddle and you just need that (I’m that guy) – then that’s a big deal. If you need to feel that physical connection to someone, even if it’s just touching, and she doesn’t? This is settling. It’s settling for unhappiness.

You should be aware that it is a serious burden to have to be with someone who has shit tons of what I like to call “stupid debt.” This isn’t student loans. Everyone has student loans.

She Doesn’t Have Her Shit Together:
I don’t expect you to seek out a girl who has a Harvard MBA and a 401k which has been sensibly balanced. I don’t expect you to find a girl who always pays every single bill on time, and who has never seen any debt. However, you should be aware that it is a serious burden to have to be with someone who has shit tons of what I like to call “stupid debt.” This isn’t student loans. Everyone has student loans. I’m talking about the girl who constantly spends, constantly goes out, constantly must have something, yet is constantly broke. I’m talking about the girl with $25,000 in credit card debt that she is not making any attempt to bring down. She quits jobs that are “just too hard” when it’s really just a case that it’s too much effort, or won’t get a new job because “it’s beneath her” after six or seven months of being unemployed and missing rent payments.

This is a fine line. Everyone has made mistakes in the past. Everyone has fucked up somehow with their finances. Everyone has chaotic situations that leave them in a particular place. This isn’t against people who have debt, or haven’t been able to get a job, or perhaps aren’t the best at balancing their checkbooks.  However, someone who is flagrantly shitty at just plain old living, it’s a problem. Furthermore, you’re going to cohabit with this person and, even if you don’t get married, take on her problems. Heck, you may rely on her income, and you’ll definitely rely on her.

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