Should You Settle?

how to know if you are settling for less“Should I hold out for something better?

Or should I settle for what I’ve got?”

I’ve heard that question so many times. Mostly from women who are just starting relationships, but sometimes I hear it from women who are about to walk down the aisle.

For those women, asking that question takes great courage. It opens up the possibility of disrupting their entire life. And yet they can’t live without knowing:

Is this guy the best I’m going to get? Or is there someone else out there for me?

It’s an honest question. You want to know you got the best deal possible, so to speak.

Maybe this guy isn’t your soulmate. Maybe, if you’d just waited another year or tried online dating one more time, you’d have found your real soulmate. The one who’s exactly like you in all the ways that matter. The one who doesn’t pick his nose or ignore you when the game is on. The one who sweeps you off your feet.

Other women have boyfriends like that. You can tell by their smile, like a cat that’s got the cream. You just know they get treated like a queen.

Why doesn’t your guy treat you like that?

Is it time to trade up?

Let’s find out. Here are the 4 questions I would ask.

  1. How committed is your relationship?

If you start to have second thoughts when you’re dating someone, then pay attention to what your intuition is telling you. When doubts are there from the beginning, they’re a sign that something isn’t quite right.

However, if you’re married or in a long-term committed relationship, then those second thoughts aren’t anything to be scared of. They’re bringing you a message. Your relationship needs more tender loving care.

It’s challenging to live with one person for the rest of your life. You see all his flaws and imperfections, and he sees yours. Of course you’re going to wonder if some mythical Prince Charming exists. It’s appealing to imagine a life where you waltz through every day in perfect harmony with the love of your life.

In real life, we’re flawed and imperfect. We hurt each other accidentally. We’re not always as careful with one another’s feelings as we could be.

Instead of fantasizing about Prince Charming, deal with those difficult feelings. Wade through the mud with him. What’s missing from your relationship? What aren’t you telling one another? What aren’t you admitting to yourself? How can you support each other better?

how to know if you are settling for lessIt’s better to have an imperfect relationship where you can talk, than a seemingly perfect relationship where you’re not allowed to mention the tough stuff.  

Here’s the next question you should be asking…

  1. Is there a foundation of mutual respect, honesty, and trust?

Some things have to be there. You can’t have a relationship without them.

Mutual respect, honesty, and trust are non-negotiable. You should never have to settle for a man who doesn’t respect you. You should never settle for a man you can’t trust.

Respectful, honest, trustworthy men aren’t always exciting. But if you want a long-term relationship, you want someone you can lean on. Someone solid. Someone who’s not going to run or deflect responsibility when the going gets tough.

  1. Can you be yourself?

It’s not an honest relationship when you can’t be yourself.

So many people make compromises in order to have a relationship. Maybe you pretend you don’t really want to have children right away, or that you’re okay with him not calling you. You don’t want to seem needy or scare him off.

If you sense that he wouldn’t want to be with you if he knew the “truth” about you, then you’re shortchanging yourself. Give him the chance to know what’s in your heart, even if you think he might leave you.

You’ll never know if he loves you if you don’t let him know who you are.

  1. Are you feeling pressured?

Often, the women who worry most about settling are those who are feeling pressured.

Maybe they’re getting older, and they worry that this is their last chance to find love. Maybe they’re feeling pressured to settle down. Maybe they just hate being single.

Research shows that the more you fear being single, the more willing you are to settle for less in your relationships.

Ask yourself:

“If I had all the time in the world to settle down, if several other guys were interested in me right now, would I still choose this relationship?”

Your answer tells you everything you need to know.

In the end, no one can tell you whether you should hold out for a better match. Listen to the part of you that knows, deep inside, whether you’re settling for less or simply not putting in the work your relationship deserves.

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7 thoughts on “Should You Settle?

  1. Janet said:

    I will tell all women of all ages: a man needs to want you more than you want him!!! ….they are out there….it took me 63 years and it’s well worth waiting for!!! Twice divorced, and solo for 18 years, I meet the man of every women’s dreams….women need to not neglect themselves, have confidence, and make a man feel valued….that’s all it takes!!! Recently married at 67, I know myself better than ever. Compromise, never Settle, ladies. Yes, there are men who are secure and loving….don’t sell yourself short!!! Best always, hugs

  2. shannon Babiarz said:

    James, i am now going through a divorce I do not want. I was a widow with 2 small children 2 and 5. I moved from Chicago to a small town in Villa Grove, to raise my kids in a more secure environment. I met my husband now who I never felt was fully invested in us. I ignored all the instincts I had all the red flags . he had never been married or even in a long term relationship. the youngest and only boy 2 sisters who are on their third marriage, his mom and dad have been married for 50 years. I was slapped into reality with the threat of divorce in 2012. now again this august 2016 but never got served. i was advised to file on him and that has made it all come to a head. I realize I should have ran when I had my bad instincts rear their head. shame on me im fifty one years old now with another child I had with him who is 8 years old . My self esteem is at its all time low. i am scared and frustrated if only I would have gotten this information 10 years ago. its so hard i cry all the time and am angry at myself for not listening to my self. Thank you for the knowledge i have know. I am not giving up I still hope for love someday. Shannon Babiarz

  3. Dalila said:

    I have been with my boyfriend for 12 years. He’s British and I am European. We met in London while I was in college there and lived together with friends for four years. In 2011 I was really unhappy: after years together we were still living in a house share, we both struggled to secure enough income flow to pay for a decent flat – we are both designers – and move in together.
    After flagging the problem for months, feeling very unhappy, with no solution in sight, I jumped on an opportunity to move to Berlin in 2012. Sorted myself out, learned a language, got better jobs and bought a flat. We kept in touch, and even though I dated other guys in Berlin, we slowly realized that we missed each other a lot. So in 2014 he moved to Berlin while keeping his freelance clients in London.
    Fast track to 2016: Brexit throws a dark shadow over a rather nice work-life balance arrangement we had found while living in two countries. I flag to him we might have to take a decision on where to live, or at least get settled on paper. Germany is a tough place for non German speakers and my boyfriends line of work simply does not exist here. So I propose I would move back to the UK while I can still freelance as a EU worker without restrictions, and that we might have to consider getting married so he could get a EU passport at some point.

    Things started to go downhill from there. We are both rather independent individuals, both never really thought about marriage, but when I realized I could be shut off from the UK and he from the EU, I’ve thrown that as a practical idea to make things a bit easier in Brexit years to come. After about 10 years together, we might as well consider getting married, no?
    He kept repeating that Brexit will not happen and that I should consider moving back to the UK only if that makes me happy. To my ears he sounded like a suggestion not to move back at all.

    We had the same discussion a few times, his attitude always on the withdrawal side. He keeps repeating he’s unsure that is the right thing to do, and although he loves me very much, he perceives marriage a complication. In his words, he’s 80% sure he wants to commit to “us” for life. But, you know, then there’s that 20% he’s unsure about. He’s also extremely introverted, which makes it super hard for me to de-crypt his 3 words statements and assemble them together into a logical flow.

    On top of this, his withdrawal has now touched upon our intimacy as well: sex has been dull to absent in the past few months. He’s aware of the problem but says he’s not sure what to do about it.

    There’s a strong bond between us, but this is really throwing me at the end of my wits. Apart from suggesting to visit his GP, I can’t quite tell what is going on in this guy’s head. Stress? Guy not morphed into an adult yet? Childhood traumas popping up? Am I expecting too much?

    I had already made arrangements to move back to London, but now I am wondering if it’s a good idea altogether. Surely I don’t fancy a breakup as soon as I get there! After all this time together, I am looking for some basic signs of commitment, which are failing to materialise.

    I’d rather move onto the next chapter of life with some peace of mind and a stable relationship. Or move to a sunnier place without a relationship 🙂

    It would be great to have a honest opinion…


    • Elena said:

      Dear Dalila,
      Of course it’s not up to me to make any suggestions, but please, please reconsider your relationship. Please find someone who is worthy of your commitment. IMHO (and I have seen some real examples of this), if a man really loves a woman, he does everything that is in his power to be with her, and in this case country borders do not matter. You’re not “expecting too much” and 10 years together are surely enough for some “signs of commitment” to materialise. It’s better to be single than to be with someone who does not really love you (I speak from experience.) Of course, it’s up to you to decide.

  4. Mary said:

    I appreciate your discussion of mutual respect, honesty and trust. I have been married twice but have been single for well over 20 years because my past experiences told me those things weren’t “find-able”. I’m most encouraged to hear from a man that these are real and legitimate expectations. You give me hope.

  5. caroline said:

    When I am reading men’s online dating profiles, I am constantly coming across “no drama women!”. Or, “do not need drama” “no drama in a relationship” and this is so prevalent on profiles, that I have to ask, why do men say this???? What does this mean coming from a guy?


    • James Bauer said:

      Hey Caroline. Great question.

      One thing guys appreciate about their platonic friendships with men is the lack of what they typically call “drama.” It’s a complicated topic, not something I can address well in a blog comment, but just to give an overview I’ll mention this. For some reason, men tend to get angry at each other, but then really let it go. They don’t bring up past hurts. Men don’t recycle ammo from previous arguments. This is a generalization, of course, but it’s one of the reasons men perceive women as being a significant source of “drama” in their lives. With guys, bygones are bygones. You get back to the friendship and you stop rehashing past hurts or old arguments.

      It’s also common for a man to blame a woman for something that is natural in a romantic relationship. There’s less drama in a platonic friendship because the possessiveness aspect of the relationship is not present. Also, if a need is not being met in the relationship, you just get it met from another relationship. Hence there is less drama. But some men make the mistake of thinking that it’s the women creating the drama they experience in their romantic relationships, failing to recognize that many women experience the same thing from their perspective. The more we care about someone, the more we fight with them and try to make things right instead of just blowing each other off and moving on.

      Hope that helps.


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