Why Is “Not Settling” So Difficult?

I have been asking myself this question a lot lately.

I find myself wondering if I ask too much of people, if I set my standards too high. I always come back to the “No, your standards are right where they should be” response.

But then, I recognize how easy it is to settle. How it can be stress-free if you don’t put any real thought or emotion into it. Anyone can settle for less and in truth, most people do.  I did that once, though, and it did not work. I simply could not endure it any longer. My self-esteem and self-worth are too high to settle the next time around.

Yet, by not settling, I find myself more often than not by myself. That is not so much a bad thing at this particular point in my life. I’m going through a transition, on the tail end of full recovery from an emotionally brutal marriage. So, I don’t exactly need someone right now, this very instant.

But… I always think about the future. I am a planner. I am organized. I have a son to think about so my future is his future. I have to be sure that if I do end up with someone, the person is someone I trust completely around my son and with his childrearing and upbringing.  I’m not 100% calculated in my actions, but I do like to have a handle or understanding of what is to come. So maybe I’d like to begin laying the groundwork for something. It’s been a year since “we” ended. I have done a lot of introspective processing and I’ve come to know what I want, what I need, and what I expect from a partner.

Honesty, loyalty, respect, honor, love, dedication, companionship, these are standard things I think anyone seeks when they want a partner. That’s not asking too much, is it? Or maybe it is…

Particulars like age, race, height, socioeconomic status, education are somewhat negotiable, but not really lol But I think we’re entitled to preferences because those are what we want and so long as they are not too extreme, we should be able to have what we want.

I don’t think I’m too particular. I just think I’m anti-settling and what I view as settling, others might not agree.

Having “been there, done that”, I know it is impossible for me to ever be truly happy by settling for less. I just wish it were not so difficult, because I would love to have someone take me to the movies and buy me ice cream every now and then.

And truth be told… I don’t think I can do this mommy thing alone.

14 thoughts on “Why Is “Not Settling” So Difficult?

  1. *sigh* I find myself asking this question ALL of time. My friends are constantly telling me that my standards are way too high and that the *ideal* guy that I am looking for isn’t out there.

    This is my second time around after a failed marriage, and I want to do this right. The things I SETTLED for with my ex, I refuse to settle for this time around. Experience has shown me what I want, and I’d rather be my myself than end up in a situation where I not completely satisfied with what I’ve got. On the flip side, it is no longer EASY for me to settle. I can definitely see how for many it is. For most, it’s not settling, because having anyone is better than being alone.

    People look at my crazy and think that I’m young and attractive so why am I not out dating all the time. I guess it’s just because I’m too a point where I don’t even think that everyone who asks me out is worth my time.

    I am honestly very frustrated about the whole thing. I long for a quality relationship, intimacy, and true companionship, but my options (considering what I ultimately desire for myself and and my son) seem so few and far between. It’s a rough place to be when you don’t want to settle and have no desire to. (and yeah, I’m with you…race and height are negotiable…but not really 😉 I don’t want to be alone forever, but sometimes I feel like if I don’t start making some SERIOUS exceptions to my rules that I will be…


    1. Yeah and then when you make the exceptions, you wonder if down the line, it will come to bite you in the behind.

      OR maybe making exceptions will bring you someone who is AMAZING and everything you never knew you needed.

      Its about taking risks and when kids are involved, we can’t take the same risks we did B.C. (before children). Now we’re dating for at least two people lol What we want or require in a partner evolves because of that.

      And being a single mom… its like having a negative stamp on your forehead for some folks. When I was in my early 20s, I didnt want to date men with kids because at that time, I felt I was too young & carefree to worry about someone else’s child. But when I hit 25, I began to make that exception. I felt I was evolving, maturing, and could handle ONE child.

      But it seems, IMO, that women are more accepting of a man having children than men are accepting of women having children. I think its related to the fact that women are more likely to be primary custodians, which places more limitations on her time.

      Now that I’m in my 30s, I dont know how my having a son or having been married comes to off to some people. I only hope they can accept the choices I’ve made in life and accept me & my son as a package deal. That’s non-negotiable.


  2. Y’know, there might be something to the willingness to settle and if you’ve gone through it before (marriage). Quite a few people that I’ve talked to have said the same thing. That they settled for whatever situation they were in, and won’t make the same mistake twice. It’s interesting to see what people moved into their non-negotiable column. It wasn’t always the “important” stuff.


  3. I DEFINITELY ask myself if setting my standards too high is making me miss out on Mr. Wonderful who might not be the *perfect* guy for me. Granted, I am not looking for actual perfection…just the kind of characteristics that I feel will make me very happy in the long run.

    I am aware that my desire for a man who is tall, brown, has SUPERIOR intelligence, is witty, creative smart and funny might leave out a man of average intelligence, who might be lighter in complexion, and isn’t quite as quick-witted and not very sophisticated but is awesome with my son and treats me well. That’s why I sometimes feel I should start reconsidering what I am leaving out by being so focused on what I love. I truly feel stuck sometimes. Not to mention some other non-negotiables that seem very superficial, but in fact are NOT at all…*sigh* It really is a fine line.


  4. Would you date a person who you might perceive as a “settling” option? I can understand not marrying someone you thought you were settling for. But what about dating? This is just me, a romantic at heart, that believes that people grow together sometimes more than they do apart, that relationships can do that. I’ve had that experience, both dating and now married to my husband. Now, it’s not going to happen with everyone, but can you open yourself up to dating widely to see if its possible? If a person is willing to allow that growth to happen?


    1. LaToya, I guess I wonder if I can “just date” and maybe thats what needs to be what I do for a few years. Part of me feels that at this age, having been married, that I should be marriage minded. The other LARGER part of me that I find myself trying to ignore because of convention tells me that I should just casually date and not think about ever getting married again.

      I guess I wonder if the growing into love thing would work for a passionate Aries like me. We crave fire, intensity, raging flames lol For me, that grown on you love seems rather dull? That might be the wrong word. I don’t want someone to grow on me. I want someone to capture me from the beginning and we grow from there. BUT I hear what you are saying and you have a valid point.

      Maybe if I just focus on “dating” and stop taking everything so seriously… i’ll be better off. And not every person has to meet my son. I think when people get to that point, maybe that when I have to decide if it is someone I’m “just dating” or something more.


      1. I think you can have the fire – that might be non-negotiable. I’m a pisces -not too far off from Aries – so I had to be with someone that I was going to fall romantically head over heels in love with. But for me, it was the other, more practical stuff that we both had to grow into – those things that would make a marriage work. Cause fire and passion don’t pay the bills…And in love, it comes when you are least looking for it. The other stuff is what needs to be worked at, is where the growth comes. Well, not height, but you know what I mean.


    2. This is very much like the advice I want to give. Settle some so that you can grow together. We naturally evolve as people over time. I think the advice that “people (read men) don’t change” or “you knew who that person was when you met them,” is a falsehood because no one stays the same forever.


  5. My height thing comes from having dated SEVERAL men shorter than me and trust me, 90% of the time, the men end up developing complexes. Their need to “top” me manifested in other ways. Sometimes it became down right verbally/emotionally abusive. Sex with a shorter dude is almost always “violent”. And dont let them make less money!!! Its a wrap. Despite their claims, most shorter men can’t seriously be involved with a taller woman, IMO, esp when the woman is 6’0


    1. The problem for me is that dating is just not fun. Even the thought of dating is overwhelming. It’s like one more thing on my to-do list. People are like,”Go out! Enjoy some good food and company!” But unfortunately, so many dates are not so exciting for me. If I have to choose between taking some quiet time to myself to read a book or do my nails, it actually sounds like a much better time than taking a chance on an evening with a guy who I don’t find intriguing, or is spending the night thing of how he can get in my pants. I don’t know….maybe I’m too uptight, lol. I used to not be this way, but lately I don’t even have the energy to give to somethign I feel won’t amount to anything.

      I am FINALLY at a point in my life where I have a clear picture of what I want in it. I can pin-point and identify what I need in a man and I’ve never really been able to do that. When I meet someone I know who doesn’t get my mind going and isn’t what I see as more than just someone to hang out with, I lose interest. Shoot…I have a phone full of people if I just want to hang out.


  6. I, too, value the time I can spend alone, taking care of me.

    I also wish I spent more time with my friends, many of whom live in other states.

    I can agree that, to a high degree, those times are far more interesting and worth the energy than playing the dating game. Maybe I’m just feeling old, but I’m only 31!! I don’t want to have to jump through rings of fire just to get a man to say, “Hey, let me take you out to a nice dinner, we’ll go catch a concert in the park, and we’ll spend time talking and getting to know each other”

    I think, my not settling difficulty has a lot to do with the fact that the art of dating seems to almost be lost. So few people, in this age of instant gratification, know how to artfully date. Too many men think coming over to a woman’s house to smoke a blunt and watch Friday on DVD, then jump in the bed is a date… AND she better be grateful for that time!! Problem is, too many women accept that as real dating. So it makes it hard for those of us who try to hold higher standards because so many of these men have gotten off so easily in modern times.

    There was a time when a man had to actually make effort to show a woman he is into her, cares about her, and wants her to give him some of her time. Now, I guess some men feel they have so many options, if one woman isnt down for it, another will be.

    Like I said, can a sista get some ice cream? Can a man not have a problem being seen in public with me? Can he not act shady when it comes to hanging out or possibly meeting my friends? Can he not try to only see me after 10pm? Thats the crap I dealt with pre-marriage and I refuse to deal with it post-marriage.


  7. I can’t even imagine dating at this point, but I will remind you that dating does allow life the chance to surprise you. What fun! You really shouldn’t have to settle, and I hope that you get more than you imagine. Blessings!


  8. Cherlin, a professor of Sociology and Public Policy at Johns Hopkins makes the point that although the children of lone but stable parents fare just as well as children from two-parent homes, they are far worse off when the mother has a series of temporary partners, or EVEN if she remarries, given the likelihood of divorce of the second marriage. Interesting…

    Lori Gottlieb, author of “Marry Him: The Case for Setting for Mr. Good Enough,” argues that women in their 30s today are too picky, insisting on a man with all the requisite dream qualities. In the process they end up missing the man who does not have every quality on the list, but who “more than compensates” with other great qualities you’ve overlooked. This is advice that mothers have passed on to daughters for generations, but, according to Gottlieb, apparently got skipped with this generation. Gottlieb admits that she is a casualty of this phenomenon; she is a single parent (she used a sperm donor), and is unmarried, although she would like to be. According to her: “Marriage isn’t a passion-fest; it’s more like a partnership formed to run a very small, mundane, and often boring nonprofit business. And I mean this in a good way.” I sorta like that!

    Just some food for thought. You might be interested in an article in the New York Review of Books that reviews these two books, as well as three other books on marriage and culture, including “Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace With Marriage,” Elizabeth Gilbert’s follow-up to “Eat, Pray, Love.” Oh, how I loved that book, although the reviewer very acutely observes that the book resonated with readers because Gilbert was able to dispense with most realities (need for money, desire to remarry or have children, and a sense of time ticking) that mar womens’ fantasies.


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