I’ve seen many of my friends settle (in my opinion) for a guy when they could do better. I would watch them with these guys who weren’t necessarily bad men (translate: not Criminal Minds level serial killers), but they weren’t anything special. They didn’t care about my friends, about their hearts or their happiness. I saw my friends settle for men who chipped away at their self worth and emotional well-being. In many ways, these guys took what they wanted without a thought for the woman they were with. And when that woman was a someone I knew, someone I cared about, it was hard to watch.
I didn’t get it; why my friends kept going back to men who didn’t deserve them. I didn’t get why these strong, beautiful daughters of Christ couldn’t see that they could do better. I didn’t understand why they settled for almost or close enough instead of waiting for a man who would make the waiting worth it. I was baffled.
Four years and no relationships later, I’m no longer baffled. I do understand. I get it. When you are single at 24 (or whatever age you find yourself), settling gets easier. There is a definite appeal, especially when you are tired of being alone, of going to bed alone, of living life alone. At some point over the last few years, all those traits I wanted in a man, all the things I told myself I needed became less black and white. I mean, am I in any position to be picky at this point? Obviously no one is jumping up and down, volunteering to give me a chance. Maybe if I compromise a bit, I’ll find someone. Maybe if I’m willing to change parts of myself, a guy will be interested.
Sitting alone in rather creepy darkness of my room, I ask myself how I got this way. What happened over the last four years that made me wonder if settling was the better option? Why do we settle?
Here’s what I came up with:
We settle because we lose confidence in ourselves. After a few failed relationships, or perhaps no relationships at all, our self esteem takes a couple hits. After seeing the man or woman we cared for find love with someone else, our confidence begins to waiver. What’s wrong with me? What am doing wrong? Is it how I look or how I act? Is it because I’m too smart or not smart enough? Is it because of the bad things I’ve done? Our singleness becomes our greatest insecurity. We lose the confidence to go after what we want, so we settle for what comes our way.
We settle because it becomes harder to see our own worth. No one else wanted me, we tell ourselves. The man I wanted didn’t want me. The woman I loved didn’t love me. I must not be worth it. I must not deserve to have that great romance. Happy ever after is for other people. This is all I’m good for. This unfulfilling, unexciting, or maybe even destructive relationship is what I’m meant for. I’m not worth the time or effort for anything else.
We settle because we’re afraid that if we don’t, we’ll end up with no one. The idea of being alone, forever alone, can be the most crippling feeling. When we are young and single, we don’t worry about it. We have time. We can wait for the right person, the perfect person. So we say no to the first few who come calling. And then we get older and meeting people gets more frustrating and difficult. Where are all the single people hiding? All of our friends are couples with other couple friends. As the years slowly pass, the idea that we could be this way forever, alone in the midst of a sea of couples, is terrifying. So when someone finally comes around, even if we aren’t in love with this person, we think it’s better than growing old with no one beside us.
We settle for so many reasons, each of them somehow universal yet unique to our own experience. We settle because we are scared of being unloved.
We settle because we become impatient.
We settle because we crave the attention of the opposite sex.
We settle because we’ve been told we can’t do better.
We settle because we’re afraid that if we don’t then we’ll miss our only chance.
We settle because we’ve made our value and worth as a person dependent on someone else. Without someone by our side, a part of us is missing. We’ve bought into the idea that we aren’t complete unless we have a girlfriend/boyfriend/fiancée/spouse. We are only half a person, not truly whole until we find our soul mate, our better half, our perfect match. Our self esteem, joy, happiness, contentment, and future become the responsibility of someone else.
But perhaps we’ve made our need for a relationship a higher priority than we ought. We’ve made the mistake of seeking validation from a relationship we convince ourselves is necessary to surviving. Having a man or a woman in our lives, we tell ourselves, will fix everything. But that’s not how it works. We can’t expect the significant others in our lives to solve our problems. They can’t fix us. They are only human after all. They have their own issues, baggage and insecurities.
Our value, our worth rests in God alone. He is the only one who can complete us. We can bring Him our insecurities, our lack of confidence, our need for attention, our diminished self worth, and He will address them all. He will heal our brokenness and fill the emptiness. He will give us the true, unconditional love that we need in the depth of our soul. He will satisfy every want. He is the relationship we crave. With God we are never alone.
We shouldn’t settle in a relationship because that won’t give us what we need. It isn’t fair to us or the person we’re with. We shouldn’t settle because settling isn’t the answer to our loneliness. Settling isn’t going to give you confidence or make you feel valued. Settling isn’t going to provide you with a loving relationship or bring joy to your life. Settling isn’t going to fill the emptiness we feel when we watch our friends with their loved ones. It will only highlight what we are missing, what we don’t have. Settling will only create even more dissatisfaction.
But honestly, the real reason I believe you should never settle, why I choose not to settle, is because you deserve more in a relationship. You deserve more than to be with someone who doesn’t fulfill you or challenge you. You deserve love, real love. You deserve the relationship that God meant for you to have. You are worth the wait.
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