It was about seven months ago when Lily and I had a sudden realization. A lot of girls we knew were in relationships, and while we complained plenty about being single, it dawned on us: We wouldn't trade places with any one of them.
Let's make a pact, I said. We will not let each other settle for someone, ever.
There are a lot of reasons why someone might find him or herself with someone who’s not a great fit; fear, desperation or even a skewed sense of self-esteem might be the culprit.
A recent survey by the University of Toronto found that, unsurprisingly, a fear of being single leads both men and women to settle in relationships. People are so afraid to be alone that they date people who can't even make them happy.
Still, it's tough to recognize when you're doing it. We're constantly comparing everyone we meet to idealistic views of whom we think we deserve, which can warp our sense of settling.
"She's a six looks-wise but has the personality of a 10." "He's a nine in the sex department but a five as far as intelligence goes."
There’s a fine line, however, between aiming high and being unrealistic. When you're in your twenties, it's especially complicated because you may find yourself valuing different traits than the ones that will matter to you 10 years down the line.
The result? You could end up overlooking someone who doesn't meet your sky-high or ultra-specific standards and may regret it later.
Truthfully, you can't dream up an ideal partner. In fact, you often can't explain why you're even attracted to someone. So, how do you know when you're settling for someone who is good enough?
You remind yourself how much worse it could be
"At least he's not abusive." "At least she doesn't cheat." "At least he's not as boring as Megan's boyfriend."
If you find that you keep trying to convince yourself of how good you have it, you probably don't have it so great. Of course, your situation could probably be worse, but that's not the point.
The point is if your circumstances were significantly better, you may need to reassess why you're with the person now. More importantly, if you're so focused on what the person isn't doing wrong, you may fail to notice where he or she is falling short.
You're constantly making excuses.
It's an uncomfortable scenario. She's running late again, or for the tenth time, he gets belligerently drunk and insults your friend.
The fact is that you shouldn't have to keep coming up with excuses as to why your significant other behaves a certain way. Not only does it put your friendships in jeopardy, but it also forces you to deal with unnecessary stress.
You have to change yourself at the core.
Sometimes you can't even tell that you're doing it. A lot of people find themselves changing important parts of themselves to make it work with someone.
Naturally, there are positive transformations that can happen when you fall in love with someone. Maybe you gave up a bad habit or adopted healthier ways. However, if you suddenly notice that your values have shifted or you've given up on your goals, you might need to reconsider your relationship.
Making major sacrifices for a person so that you can morph into his or her ideal partner is one of the worst forms of settling.
Ultimately, you may never actually meet the other person’s expectations. The right person doesn't want to fundamentally change you, and he or she definitely doesn’t want to stand in the way of your dreams.
You should feel like your partner is helping you get to where you want to be and enabling you to be the best version of who you are.
You're trying to change him or her.
How many times has an "if only" crossed your mind? Sure, there may always be some small thing about a person you'd change if you could, whether it's a mild stubbornness or a few insecurities.
What separates this from settling, though, is that you ultimately accept those flaws because much better qualities outweigh them.
In the end, you can only change so much about a person. If you're staying in a relationship because you're hoping the person will suddenly shed his or her irrational jealousy, overcome apathy or dismiss stingy tendencies, then take a step back.
Being in a relationship shouldn't feel like a project. If it does, in all likelihood, you'll never be satisfied with the finished product.
Photo Courtesy: We Heart It