In the creative, underrated masterpiece that is Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, there is a song with Rachel Bloom and Santino Fontana in which their characters are considering dating one another. Fontana’s Greg makes an impassioned, musical plea for Bloom’s Rebecca to date him by channeling Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in a musical number, “Settle for Me.”
It’s clever. In taking one of the most romantic, picturesque couples of all time and using their iconic chemistry to create a song about settling, of all things, it sets up an unnerving contrast between movies and real-life dating, and makes the musical number inherently, and indisputably, funny.
According to a new study, it may go well beyond parody: settling could be the key to a happy and lasting relationship.
The study, “What predicts romantic relationship satisfaction and mate retention intensity: mate preference fulfillment or mate value discrepancies?” (these people should not go into advertising) resolves that “mate value discrepancy” means everything to a happy relationship.
Or, as author Daniel Conroy-Beam explains:
“Cues to mate replaceability — specifically mate value discrepancies — appear to have important and reliable effects on relationship satisfaction. The availability of partners who better fulfill one’s preferences decreases relationship satisfaction, especially for people mated to partners lower in mate value than themselves.”
In other words, committing yourself to the recognition that the partner you’re with is the absolute best you can do is the secret to making your relationship last. The study also points out that dating apps like Tinder give us far too many options, making it difficult to believe the person we are with is truly, well, our best work.
So… maybe next time your mom tells you that you’re far too particular, and that cashier at REI was super cute, even if you don’t even like the outdoors, and seriously Mom, did you see his facial hair, you should listen to her?
Of course, I am not advocating for staying with someone who you don’t think is the one. But when it comes to dating, recognizing the good in what you have — instead of constantly surveying better options out there — may make all of the difference.