In theory, we understand that people are who they are and we can not change them. However, in practice, we are constantly trying to do just that. And, when we can’t change them, we start modifying our behaviors, wants, and needs to be more accommodating, ultimately resulting in resentment and dissatisfaction in our relationships.
And, at some point down the line, we realize that we have settled.
Luckily, there is a way to figure out if you’re settling in your relationship before you get in too deep. Take a moment to answer these few questions truthfully:
- Do you see yourself with someone else in the long run?
- Are you in an ‘open’ relationship, but you—and only you— want it to be exclusive?
- Even though you’re with someone, do you often wonder when you’ll meet someone else?
- Do you wish you could change a not-so-short list of things about your current mate?
- If you could be with anyone in the world (ahem…excluding star crushes), would you choose someone other than the person you’re with?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then yes, you are settling. In fact, if you even have to ask yourself, “am I settling?” then, in all likelihood, you probably are.
If you take nothing else away from this article, remember the following affirmation. Say it daily. Write it on your bathroom mirror. Put a post-it on your refrigerator.
“I am worthy of great love! I will not settle for less. Not ever.”
Don’t get me wrong. There is a big difference between being unsure or having doubt and settling. The plethora of choices that life presents means that doubt and uncertainty will certainly be a part of any big decision we make. You wouldn’t typically buy the first house that the realtor shows you. In fact, you will most likely view dozens of houses; find the perfect house that fits all of your criteria and you will still have doubts.
We doubt because there is some ambiguity in our criteria because we are — erroneously — always looking for ‘better’ when what we need to realize is that once we’ve laid out our shortlist of relationship criteria (5-7 must-haves), one person who meets the criteria is not better — only different — than the next person who also meets the criteria. Vagueness creates confusion.
Get some clarity by asking yourself this question: “If I were stranded on a deserted island forever, what qualities would I need in a mate?” That should at least get you started on generating a more specific list of what you’re looking for in a partner.
And, try not to rail off the obvious criteria, like “must be attractive.” What exactly does that mean? The person obviously wouldn’t need to be universally attractive, just attractive to you (which could be totally unattractive to me). My point is this: Be thoughtful and realistic in defining your specific criteria!
There are many people who will tell you that settling is exactly what you should do. They may use a word that doesn’t sound quite so negative, like ‘compromising’ or ‘modifying expectations’, but you don’t want to do these either.
In 2008, The Atlantic ran an essay by Lori Gottlieb in which she stated, “every woman I know—no matter how successful and ambitious, how financially and emotionally secure — feels panic, occasionally coupled with desperation, if she hits 30 and finds herself unmarried.”
Her advice to women still holding out for a great guy: settle for the okay guy. She recommends that we forget about deep, passionate connections (yikes and double yikes!!!) and instead look for companionship (please just put me out of my misery now).
To begin an intimate relationship devoid of passion is a fate worse than the guillotine! I am not exaggerating. If you stay together for the long term, you will eventually get to the companionship stage of love, but to start a relationship without passion is… well, that which should never be spoken. Really.
My question to you is, “does your heart flutter when you see Mrs. Good Enough? Do you have the urge to pepper the okay guy with long, slow, deep, soft, wet kisses that last three days?” No? Then, you, my friend, should keep looking. If you stop there, you’ll be yet another settling statistic.
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You deserve to be irresistibly desired. If you settle, you may create a lifetime of unhappiness for yourself and for someone else. Do you want that kind of guilt hanging over your head? I can answer for you: no.
You deserve a big, wonderful love! So spend some time being thoughtful about your criteria and choose well!
Tiffany Perkins-Munn is a YourTango contributor.
This article was originally published at Examiner. Reprinted with permission from the author.