According to a recent study conducted by the University of Toronto, some people are willing to settle for less in a love relationship just so they can be part of a couple. The report states some people will allow relationships they aren’t happy in to perpetuate, and more importantly they will often date people who aren’t suitable for them and begin a long term relationship just so they can say they have a significant other.
Unfortunately, this attitude of having a long term relationship at any cost, even at the cost of their own personal happiness just sucks the romance and passion out of the whole idea of being in love! A very funny scene from the movie When Harry Met Sally illustrates this point:
Marie: Don’t wait too long. Do you remember David Warsaw? His wife left him and everyone said, give him some time, don’t move in too fast, and six months later, he was dead.
Sally: What are you saying? I should marry someone in case he’s about to die?
Alice: At least you could say you were married.
Being single for longer than you expected can result in worries that transcend the obvious question, “Will I be single forever?” Additional concerns begin to rear their unwanted heads as each year passes, such as worrying you will become so set in your ways that you will be inflexible in a relationship. Worries about that ticking biological clock creep in and whether or not the right marriage partner present himself before the alarm goes off. These worries lead many people to jump into a relationship that won’t make them happy, that will result in settling for less.
But the real predicament here is knowing how to find someone special without settling for less or being too picky. Isn’t the key piece of advice single people receive just that? If you are picky and hold out for that perfect person, it will pay off in the end? “Stick to your guns and wait for the man of your dreams!” I must have heard that a thousand times from friends and relatives when I was single. But you can drive yourself crazy if you allow these worries to take over your perspective on dating. There is a balanced approach to discerning whether or not you are settling or being too picky.
First, let’s talk about the difference between settling and understanding how true love operates. When you have true love for someone, she may not be a supermodel or he may not be a GQ hunk, but you’re still wildly attracted to that person and you have no doubt this is someone you look forward to growing old with. When you’re settling, it doesn’t matter what they look like, you don’t feel connected to that person; they’re more of an accessory than a soul mate. When you are truly in love, you feel good about yourself when you are with that person; he brings out the best in you. When you settle, your self-esteem suffers, which adds to the feeling of discontentment.
True love is never based upon physical appearance but instead, thrives in knowing the person you’re with has all the interior qualities and characteristics you’ve been looking for. So here are some suggestions for gaining the balance you need between settling and being too picky:
1. Have a list of non-negotiables that isn’t more than half a page.
You should be certain of the qualities and characteristics you won’t negotiate on, but if the list goes on and on, then you’re probably being too picky and you may be missing opportunities for a great relationship. When I was dating, my list of non-negotiables included:
- He is a happy, practicing Catholic
- He is comfortable around my family and they are comfortable around him
- He is adventurous and romantic
- He loves children
Everything else was negotiable. I decided whether or not I was willing to accept these variables on a case-by-case (or date-by-date) basis. What does your list look like?
2. Don’t try to disqualify someone by looking only at what’s wrong with a person.
I fell into this trap of looking for what was wrong for a while and I encourage you to beware of this slippery slope. It’s too easy to begin eliminating potential dates because you are deliberately looking for imperfections that will discredit them in your eyes. Of course, I’m not proposing you should ignore glaring problems like promiscuity, addictions or abusive behavior, but I am saying that if all you focus on is finding all that person’s defects, no one will be good enough. Instead, be considerate of the good points and the things you enjoy about that person.
Don’t forget that being in a relationship with someone who makes you happy should be fun and fulfilling. Maybe that person looks nothing like you imagined they would, or comes from a background you never imagined you would connect with, but when you find someone with all your non-negotiables those other details work themselves out.
Feel free to send your questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.