Looking back over the bone yard of your past relationships can be a humbling experience. Examining how each little union started, where it faltered, and when it finally sputtered to its end gives us pause to consider—and learn—what we can do and be better the next time we enter into a romance. With the past as a starry-eyed guide, we can, hopefully, keep from emulating the same relational mistakes again and again. If we choose to ignore it, it’s likely that our chosen cycle will end the same way each and every time.
As I peer over what went wrong in each of my past relationships, I can’t help but notice a startling pattern in nearly every single example of my commitment. And though the common thread was one I hadn’t noticed until now, its existence somehow didn’t surprise me. It made sense and it explained the path each of those relationships took to their own demise.
In all but one of my relationships, I had settled for a person who less than what I truly wanted.
Reading that sentence, it’s natural to assume that I believe I was too good for each of the women I dated and made my partner. But the opposite is true. Most of the women were too good for me and I was blessed that they even gave me a shot. However, that doesn’t change the fact that for each woman I committed myself to (for however long a time), they all lacked something I inevitably needed in a partner (the likelihood that they settled on me first is not lost on me).
Examples of things I settled on range from the differences in our faith to her personality/sense of humor being somewhat dry and cumbered and not meshing with mine to her not being pretty enough for my taste (that sounds so incredibly horrible for me to say and I’m sorry, but mutual sexual attraction is incredibly important in a relationship, whether we have the heart to admit it or not). Regardless of what I settled on, the fact that I did settle hampered my relationship from the very beginning and left us building something on less-than-solid ground. Ultimately, each relationships failure can be traced back to those concessions, and as a result, the failure of those relationships is on me and my conscience (note: there is one relationship I didn’t have to settle on because we were quite perfect together, and three long years later, I still regret finding a way to blow it away into nothingness. A story for another time perhaps).
In reality, dating, in its origins, was a way to progress toward marriage. You met someone and you liked them, so the two of you dated and if things worked out, you got married. Now, things are all construed and upside down. The term “dating” means a thousand different things to a billion different people. But whatever your definition of dating or what your endgame is, settling or conceding something you want from a partner puts your relationship at an immediate disadvantage. You’re having to ignore the absence of something you miss or the presence of something you wish didn’t exist. It’s a tough hurdle to get by or see through. But then again, some would say that love can conquer all.
When you’re considering dating someone while getting to know them, do yourself a favor and refuse to settle for someone who is less than what you want. Really, you have the right and privilege to wait for as long as you want. After all, your happiness is what’s at stake.
Could some of my relationships have survived my settling? Maybe. Did they? No. So when I see that one of the deathblow issues was my conceding something I wanted and needed from a partner, why wouldn’t I correct that mistake in the future?
Your life is your own and you’re free to do as you please. But don’t settle. You deserve to be happy and you deserve to be satisfied and you deserve to be fulfilled. Why not find that with someone who you don’t have to make a concession for? Hold out for something better. The result is eternally worth the wait.
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