You will never find the perfect person.
But wait, isn't that settling?
Maybe? I don't think so. I think there is a difference. A bit of explanation.
Everyone should have a set of goals, ideas, standards, ethics, values, etc, that they wish to share with their future spouse. This isn't unreasonable. But what is unreasonable, I think, is expecting to find someone that meets each and every one of those bullet points. The only way you're going to find that is by dating yourself. In the real world you have to compromise.
Don't misunderstand, settling is a real thing, and I'm not denying that people do it. But in spectrum
with settling-for-someone-whom-you-have-nothing-in-common-with on one side, and waiting-forever-for that-perfect-someone on the other, in the middle is a vast zone that I would label 'real relationships.' The middle is occupied by happily married couples who stay the course. The closer you get towards "Perfect," the more the divorce/break up rate rises as people lump unreasonable expectations on their partner/spouse. The closer you get towards "Settling," the more dysfunctional and unhappy the relationship is, quite probably with an equal rise in the divorce/breakup rate.
And right in the middle? Commitment.
Waiting for Superman and/or Superwoman
We're bombard with sitcoms like How I Met Your Mother and Scrubs that, while amusing, accentuate the failure of the current system. Characters in said shows bounce from relationship to relationship, constantly on the cusp of commitment, but always at the very last minute finding a justifiable reason (in their mind) that the relationship could never work, so they in turn break it off only to jump right in to the next similar fiasco.
Now to the rational person, I think it's fairly obvious why this occurs. It's a television program, and if Ted Mosby met the love of his life in the first episode we would know how he met his children's mother and the television show would be over. Not much chance for syndication or future profits.
Unfortunately, though, I see this scenario playing out in the lives of those around me. Reality is being treated in the same manner as fantasy entertainment. Peers and acquaintances can't seem to find the person that is 'just right,' with whom they'll enjoy their happily ever after.
The problem is, they're searching for the wrong thing. They should be looking for someone whom they love despite their flaws, someone with whom they're willing to work through life's trials and hardships.
They're searching for the perfect person, forgetting that no one is perfect.
Get Your Ducks in a Row
My wife and I dated for four and a half years before marrying, making our relationship already statistically longer than the majority of marriages. Of those four and a half years, we were a long distance relationship for almost three and a half years. In that time we had disagreements, we both made mistakes. She's not 'perfect' for me, I think, by conventional wisdom. We don't have any overlapping hobbies, and our tastes in books and movies is often sharply different. Our taste in music is definitely in contrast, despite the fact that music brought us together.
But what we do have? Shared religious beliefs. Shared plans and values for our future family and life together. Shared financial opinions. (This one is important, and often skipped over by couples.) Shared commitment to each other. And we have a lot of fun together, no matter what we're doing. We each found someone that hits the major bullet points for what we want in a partner. The little ones? Eh. So what. She may not be able to name the seven original Dwarf Houses of Middle Earth, but I think we can work through that detail.
(I forgive her.)