We all know that navigating the currents of the dating pool isn’t easy. Sometimes, no matter how clear we try to keep things, the waters get murky. We start out feeling optimistic about all the fabulous, available men we’re going to meet, and after a few months of non-starters, we begin to feel less sure about our prospects, and we bump our needs further and further down the list of priorities as we second-guess our expectations.
Before you know it, we’re looking back at previous relationships with rose-colored glasses, saying things like, “So he didn’t communicate his feelings. At least he liked to watch Enlightened with me.”
At a certain point, anyone can get struck with “Do I have to settle?” syndrome, causing us to question whether we’re on a path to love, or just meandering down a dead-end street. This letter from a reader named Cindy summarizes the scenario perfectly:
I have been debating if I should have settled down with an all right guy, or should just hold out for the right guy to come along. Family and friends have stated that I’m a perfectionist and need to learn to compromise. Should I? I know I can compromise on trivial matters, but I refuse to compromise on my future happiness. I would rather be alone than be with the wrong person. Am I doing the right thing?
Thanks for your letter, Cindy! First of all, I want to tell you that I absolutely believe a wonderful and fulfilling relationship is out there for you, and I think it’s great that you’ve put such a high premium on your happiness. But rather than comparing and contrasting the attributes of Mr. Right and Mr. All Right, I’d like to discuss the difference between settling and settling down.
When To Be Selective
Nobody should settle for someone she knows is wrong for her―but you already know that. It sounds to me like your fundamental question is whether you are being too picky. Well, there are things that are important to be picky―or, more appropriately, selective―about, and there are things that we sometimes fixate on that actually prevent us from true intimacy. Knowing the difference between the two is what enables us to distinguish between someone for whom we’re settling and someone with whom we could happily settle down.
The things to be uncompromisingly selective about are matters of big-picture compatibility. These are your future personal goals, your values, your morals, and your principles.
I encourage you to write these down, and dig deep. Here’s where you will reveal your feelings on family, faith, and begin to identify a broad sense of how you see the world and what motivates you in life. Then write out a list of your core needs, based on those principles. Mind you, I didn’t say wants (you don’t actually need him to have blue eyes and love to ski, do you? That’s a want!). What you have if you leave out those “wants” will provide you with a fairly good idea of what sort of man you actually need to be with for a deeply satisfying relationship to develop.
Being Open to Surprises
And finally, stay open and let go of some of those perfectionist tendencies. The next time you meet a great guy who doesn’t quite match your old list of requirements (most of which were likely wants rather than needs), allow yourself to explore and be surprised. Sometimes the greatest gifts come in the most surprising of packages―but we’ll miss out if we don’t open them up and take a deeper look inside.
Your friend in love,
P.S. Hope you’ll be joining me for my Smart Sexy Soulful Dating™ course, which teaches you everything you need to know to find the guy that’s perfect for you! Sign up to be notified when early registration opens, and you’ll be treated to some fascinating preview material that will help you build your dating smarts!