Single Black Male: Why Do Men “Settle?”

October 1, 2012  |  

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This week I was asked to address the following: Why do men settle?  We talk a lot about “settling” in the office and what makes folks resort to that. Sometimes it’s perplexing why seemingly good men settle since it seems that they have more choices than women. As for men I know who have settled, I definitely know they settled because it’s pretty obvious when someone is not in love with his/her significant other.

To address this topic, I’ll need to shamelessly promote a few prior write-ups. First, I’ve written about Why He Married the Regular Girl before. Secondly, “settling” is subjective. I’ve written about that before in a piece aptly titled Maybe You Should Settle. I’m of the opinion that we all eventually settle. Technically, there will always be someone available that is more attractive, smarter, younger and perhaps even a better fit than our current mate. That is why we refer to it as “settling down.”

At some point in life, in theory, you have to make a choice that you only want to be with your wife in spite of and despite of the fact that there are other women in the world you will be attracted to before you die. To me, commitment is more about honoring vows to one woman and less about constantly reevaluating whether I “settled” to be with her.

What qualities do men settle on?

I should clear something up: men don’t search for the same qualities in a potential wife as women search for in a potential husband. In other words, the qualities a woman desires in a potential husband are not the same qualities a man desires in a potential wife. They might even be the exact opposite (e.g. preferring a taller man vs. a shorter woman).

I have my theories on what women look for in a potential husband, but since I’m not a woman and I don’t feel like arguing about how little I know about women (and I assure you it is very little), I’m going to focus on what men look for in a potential wife. I can’t speak for all men, but I can speak for most men, because I am a man, I know men, and unlike when dealing with a woman in which they have an interest, these men have no reason to tell me what they think I want to hear as opposed to simply answering the question.

When I asked around, most men seemed to desire a wife that they are attracted to, can have fun with, who is reasonable, supportive, and who is motivated to pursue similar goals in life. Please notice I made no mention of sex; there is no mention of income; and there is no mention of education. Is this because men don’t care about sex, income, and education? No, don’t be ridiculous. However, few men have made the decision to marry or not to marry their wife based strictly on how good/bad her sex, income, or education. In most cases, you are not going to sex your way into a proposal, spend your way into a proposal, or use your vast educational achievements to impress your way into a proposal. For many men, those qualities in women act as the support, not as the foundation, for why he sees a given woman as wife-material.

What’s love got to do with it?

Women hold on to grudges, men hold on to heartbreak. A man will get his heartbroken in elementary school and use that experience to guide his view on women and love for the rest of his life. I’m exaggerating but only slightly. If a man gets his heart broken badly enough when he’s young, he might become so jaded by the experience that he chooses to never place himself in an emotionally vulnerable position for the rest of his life. In doing so, he isn’t looking for a woman to fall in love with. He is settling for a woman to spend time with.

You can maintain a relationship without love. People do it every day. While the blogs usually focus on the plights of the single black women of the world, it’s not like every black man on Earth is running around falling into the waiting arms of every woman he wants. The majority of men do not have a handful of lonely women waiting around for him to beckon so that he can validate them by finally putting a ring on it. Despite all the false bravado, Drake is not the only man that “gets lonely too.”

Many men will settle out of comfort, fear, or both. In their mind, something is better than nothing. These men figure that if they have someone to hang out with that cooks, cleans, gives them sex, and meets whatever other basic qualities he deems important, then what more does he need? Should he risk comfort to pursue love? For what? Love doesn’t pay the bills.

Do you think men settle as often or more often than women? What makes you believe these men settled and why do you think they did so in the first place? Do you feel like you settled in a past or current relationship? What made you feel like you settled or had no choice but to settle?

WisdomIsMisery aka WIM uses his background as an internal auditor to provide objective, yet opinionated, qualitative and quantitative analysis on life, love, and everything in between. As a Scorpio, many women wish death on WIM and some have attempted to hasten its arrival. WIM is not a model, a model citizen, or a role model. See more of WIM on his weekly write-ups for SBM and on Twitter @WisdomIsMisery.

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