The Danger Of Marrying For Practical Purposes: Why I Think Those Who “Settle” Are Potential Cheaters

September 18, 2012  |  



Oftentimes, we look at infidelity as a product of one person in a relationship checking out and acting irresponsibly for selfish reasons; we envision the cheater as someone that decided he or she wanted something new. But as I see a lot of my friends settling down and getting married, I have come to observe that there is one motive for cheating that is rarely discussed: “settling.”

As I witness cousins, friends and associates getting engaged and married, I realized that I don’t know too many couples who are mutually and passionately in love. Of all the couples I know, I only admire the relationships of a handful of folks. Most couples I know consist simply of two people who just settled for one another or one who is more into the other.

Some of these women I know in these relationships always had a practical mindset when it came to love; some just had little hope of finding “the one” after 30; and some thought they just owed it to the man who loved them unconditionally. It makes me sad, really. I’m not a supporter of “settling.” Although I did admire the rationale behind the notorious book by Lori Gottlieb arguing that women needed to be practical about their expectations, I know that compromising emotions for the sake of practicality wouldn’t work for someone like myself. Although many people wouldn’t admit it, “settling” wouldn’t work for them either. What’s proof of this? Cheating and infidelity.

Like I mentioned, we envision a cheater as someone who got married and was in love, met someone else, and just moved on to the next. But settlers are the pre-cheaters. I look at a close friend of mine who is marrying a man who is madly in love with her. She’s not in love with him although she likes him. I fear the day when she comes across a man who evokes the passion she’s lacking in her own emotions for her fiance.

I imagine this happens all the time. The man who cheats with his co-worker and the woman who leaves her husband for a man she met on the plane potentially both have similar stories. When a person, who has settled, connects with another person that stirs up those passions, they don’t know how to handle things. It’s not like these scenarios have uniformly happy endings or sad endings; but what they almost always do is throw off someone’s balance in life and make them question their own personal state of affairs. When settling, you’re essentially putting yourself in the vulnerable position of temptations. When that part of your life is not truly fulfilled and satisfied, you may feel that there is a vacuum that needs to be filled.

So with all the talk of settling down, being practical, marrying someone who loves us more than we love them, etc, maybe we should think about the potential damage that can be caused by this rush to the altar. Understandably, I know there are some people who will be fully content with their decision to settle and never second-guess their decisions but I think for the most part, people desire the idea and feeling of true love.

Do you know anyone who’s cheated because they found true love after they got married? 

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  • Helovedthephonecompany

    I fell for the one and only guy for me when I was 20. He didn’t feel the same. He married someone else when I was 22. I never found anybody else like him. I got married when I was 36 just because I didn’t want to get old alone. 36 was a nice “bridge age”. I was old enough to know I wouldn’t still be looking for passion from somebody else, but not so old I couldn’t get somebody suitable. He also had kids from a previous marriage and didn’t want any more so I didn’t have to worry about being asked to bear the children of somebody I found suitable but didn’t love – plus I was too old. The long and the short of it is, I think the author is on to something. If I had been ten or even five years younger when I married I might have been tempted to cheat. Since I was middle-aged that was not a problem. Still married after 20 years. The one and only guy for me? I found out that the girl he did love and marry cheated on him four years into the marriage, and though they stayed together 20 years and two kids after that, she left him. She filed for divorce because he wouldn’t move where she could get into medical school. She robbed him blind in divorce court and that financed her medical school education – He is a big executive now for a large company so I’m sure he recovered financially better than most men. However, now and then just thinking about it gives me a large dose of schadenfreude.

  • Madman81

    Great article! It depicts a story that happened to me personally 2 years ago. I had settled for a girlfriend who was nice an all and I “tried” to find those feelings of love and passion for her, but unsuccessfully. I foolishly thought I would never know what love was until I met This woman at my work place, and to this day I can confidently say she was the ONLY woman that mattered in my entire life. To keep things short things didn’t end up working out because the sheer power of the passion were too much for both of us as we were going through issues of our own, but I learned something and it is: I will never just settle for the sake of settling !

  • This is a bunch of bunk. So … you mean to say that practicality leads to cheating. What about the practice of arranged marriages which have gone on for thousands of years and is still in practice. These “practical” marriages are in no more danger of someone cheating than hose who marry for so-called passion. Passion fades. How many marriages have we known where they were so in love with one another only for one or both of those people to go out and cheat. At least in practical marriages they know what to expect and learn to love one another, and know what will be an will not be accepted. They often last longer. Much fewer divorces. Think again on what you consider a “bad” marriage.

  • Da#1

    A great one Marissa Ellis, if one settle it will end in cheating. you will never be complete if you are in a situaton where you are not with a person that you are in love with.. when you get to the point that you are ready to marry someone make sure the both of you are on the same page.even though for most people things change over time and you grow apart and that also cause people to cheat.

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  • Jennifer

    I’m sorry but heart racing, sparks flying and fireworks does not equate to true love. Relationships are serious and should not be entered into lightly. A lot of people get married based on the initial hormonal reactions hence the high divorce rate. As soon as the passion is gone and the feel good hormones wears off so does the marriage. In all honesty i’d much rather marry someone who i know truly loves and cares for me even if i’m not feeling fireworks than to marry someone that i have a lot a passion for only to realize months down the road they care nothing about me.For all the ladies looking for the heavens to open up as a sign of finding “the one” good luck with that; it’s gonna be a long wait.

  • Just Peachy!

    Anytime you engage in any act out of selfishness and not out of the goodness of your heart your bound for trouble later on down the line.

    In this case entering a marriage solely on practicality makes sense if it’s purely a business arrangement or you made up in your mind that this “is the best thing or the right thing to do”. You may reason with yourself that you will grow to love him or her in time. It’s best for the kids, you don’t see marriage in your near future to anyone else so “why not ?” or whatever your practical reason may be.

    Life and relationships can be complicated enough without bringing well-meaning intentions into the mix. I will prefer to do it for all the reasons, especially love, that one gets married for before I decide to cause another being undue harm or stress. After all nothing is guaranteed anyway.

    • RedLaura1985

      I believe the opposite – any time you deny that you are a selfish person at all, and don’t consider yourself, you are bound for trouble later on down the line. Not to say you should be completely selfish, but you should definitely NOT forget your own needs. You will eventually remember your own needs, and seek to fulfill them. If your spouse can’t or won’t, you’ll go elsewhere.

  • FromUR2UB

    Passionate love is not sustainable. It’s flashes and burns out like a shooting star, because it’s based upon illusion, fantasy and superficiality, which is why it’s usually associated with youth. It flies out the window as soon as it encounters disillusionment or difficulty. The kind of love that endures over decades comes from loving someone, warts and all. That doesn’t happen just because of a feeling. It takes time, practice, patience and tenacity.

    • Jennifer

      @FromUR2UB:disqus exactly, couldn’t agree with you more. I’ve experienced the passion, the fireworks and all that. It doesn’t last. Nothing compares to growing to love somebody.

    • grateful

      excellent comment , as usual!

  • 1micmcna1

    Oh man, the sad state of affairs for love relationships in this country. Listen, as a psychiatrist (sometimes I feel the need to state my credentials) I see this from many women and some men who are patients of mine. The fact of the matter is that there is no one coverall or huge reason for why people cheat. The fact is that in reality the majority of people have stated that they have cheated just for the experience/because they were bored. For those who did it for the experience, they say things like monogamy isn’t for them or they felt trapped by there life. For those who were bored, I often hear that it was something to break up the monotony in their relationship. So then, sure, some people jump to think that this meant they settled for something and then suddenly something better came along. That usually isn’t the case (this can be seen especially since the majority of people who do cheat and are caught rarely get married to the person they were cheating with and then stay married; half of the couples work through it and become a stronger couple). They simply wanted something different. Sadly, it doesn’t matter how in love with someone you are or both of you are. Eventually, people want a change. That’s just the nature of life. The trick is to constantly keep things fresh both as a couple and for yourself. Renewal of yourself is difficult but must be done within any relationship. And also, it’s a good idea to never say never in any circumstance. I can’t tell you how many clients (all of them women) come in and start telling me their story by saying “I never thought I’d cheat. We were genuinely happy together.” Humans always act against what they think is forbidden even if they are the one’s doing the forbidding

  • Pivyque

    I think that is somewhat true, but to generalize like that is ridiculous. People that marry for love end up cheating and being cheated on just as easily. If the person doesn’t have the will power to resist temptation, then love has nothing to do with it. I married for practical reasons, have been married for a long time and haven’t even thought about cheating on my husband. People cheat because they don’t value marriage. They cheat because they are thinking “I” instead of “we”.
    I also notice that you said “people desire the idea and feeling of true love”. A lot of people think that true love is what happens in fairytales and spend their lives looking for that “aha” moment “when we lock eyes and our worlds instantly connect” type thing. While searching for that fleeting moment of passion, they can be ignoring very real possibilities for the lasting love they want.

    • grateful

      i really didn’t like this article and you put into words what i was too lazy to type myself, thank you!!!!!!

    • Nope

      I’m a married man and I agree with this. The article and comments sounds like advice from people that aren’t married, and won’t be getting any closer to it with this mentality.

    • RedLaura1985

      I find my practical relationship to be quite fulfilling. It’s amazing what a nice mutually respectable relationship will do for a woman.

    • Taryn Bryant

      PREACH !!!! Thank you. When selfishness gets involved there is no hope for true connection and fidelity.

  • DivaB

    Deep!! Wow just wow!!

  • maggie

    Agree, 100%

  • MEOWmixer

    i love this article- i was just reading the single women article
    did u ever think that some women are single b/c they are not settling- some people are not single because they accept less so they wont have the singletag

  • L-Boogie

    I will never get married.

    • Mermaid

      I’m with you L-Boogie. I’m with you!!!

  • kate

    I doubt it matters although I met a guy at a gas station where his wedding party was gassing up to go to the wedding, or just left the reception idk..the entire wedding party was in tow…I saw him a few days later at the same station and he tried to holler. I went off, like wait a minute didn’t I just see you…… I felt out right disrespected. The nerve of him !

    I flat out asked him why did he get married ? He was looking at me like it’s not that serious sorry I bothered. You damn right !

  • Adrina

    Well written…but I wish ppl would stop looking at after 30 as this type of “doomsday” for women. BW get married after 30, and don’t have to settle…it’s not the end of the world. And if anyone thinks, that the pool gets shallow. It won’t if we open our minds to “other pools”. Smh….Besides I would rather marry someone I love than to divorce them later bc I never had that feeling for them.

    • Miss Anonymous

      But then after 30 your window of fertility starts to close some. I dont know about other women here but I do know I wanted to be married and have my kids before 30 because I may not be able to have kids when I turn 30 if I get married later in life unless I have kids now and be a baby mother for a while. ALL the women in my family has had a hysterectomy by 30 because of menstrual related problems. The only woman to not have that is my mom. My grandmother, aunt and cousins had it done. They were married and had their kids before 30 came and the average for them getting the hysterectomy is 30. I personally wonder if my menstrual issues will be that bad within the next 6 years to where I need that also, so in a way I do feel a slight sense of urgency to hurry up find someone who wants to marry me and have a kid or two before I find out I wont be able to have any.

      • Taryn Bryant

        Wow, that’s messed up. Sorry.

  • Na Na

    OMG speak on it! This is so true.

  • MsRedBone

    I think this was really well written. People settle for many different reasons but if you find youself in the situation where someone other than your partner is inciting feelings they shouldn’t be….you then have a choice. I don’t think EVERYONE who settles is predisposed to cheating. At the end of the day…you cheat because you want to.

    • RedLaura1985

      no, people cheat for all kinds of different reasons not all of them “because you want to”. i did it because my husband was abusive, but i tried too hard to stay with him, got severely depressed, tried to find happiness in him, made some bad decisions, and ultimately found it with another man. cheaters aren’t all bad people. people commit suicide due to depression (a stupid irrational choice), i committed adultery. same poor decision making process due to untreated depression.