“I don’t want to feel like I’m settling,” are words that are uttered in my office too many times a week.  The big fear many have when it comes to dating and marriage, even more than not finding love or being single forever is that of settling (otherwise known as going for less than you feel you deserve).

When working with Hanna, this was her greatest struggle when it came to dating. She dated a lot and met loads of people who could potentially be awesome partners for her. But there was always something that wasn’t 100% right for her.

Sometimes it was how he looked at her- awkwardly intense.

Or how he picked his teeth after a meal with a toothpick, for what felt like ages.

How his voice rose sharply when he felt uncertain- this always made her cringe.

Sometime he was too shy when they discussed something important to her. There’s no shortage of stuff to turn us off!

When it comes to deciding whether someone is the one, it often feels easier to look at all the negatives because it keeps us safe. It protects us from making THE BIGGEST MISTAKE IN OUR LIVES!  Settling for someone implies that we should be able to do better. We don’t want to wait any longer.  That we deserve more than this. The real thing we need to clarify though is what does better really look like. How can we recognize that we may have already hit the jackpot?

To make sure by choosing someone to love and commit to we’re making the best decision and not just settling, we need to answer the following questions:

  • Do I feel I can be the best version of myself with this person?
  • Can I let my hair down and be silly with them?
  • Are we aiming to share similar life goals?
  • Do I respect and appreciate this person more often than not?
  • Is this the person I want to turn to share both the best and worst parts of my day?
  • Is this person into the idea of growing together?
  • Can we both be responsible about the important things in life (most of the time)?
  • Do we feed positively off of one another?
  • Do our differences complement one another?
  • Can we hold onto one anothers difficult feelings like sadness, anxiety, shame and anger?

You might notice from this list of questions that they are dynamic. They assume a connection between the two of you. This is because we can make a list of character traits about someone that we view as perfect for us, and they just won’t be.

Who we chose as a partner is primarily dependent upon the connection we form with them and how we bounce off of one another.

Hanna discovered that many of her uncomfortable feelings with the guys she dated had more to do with her feeling uncomfortable with herself. She often thought about how others would perceive her if she were with this man. She soon realized this way of thinking was tripping her up.

Much to all of our chagrin, love just can’t be siphoned down to a simple list. So, to know that we aren’t settling, is to first know that we can hold on to ourselves, feel love independent of what others think about us and then see how this connection unfolds in the presence of someone else.

If you want to make sure you’re on the right track to finding love and not on the road to settling for just good enough, write to me at: mlavinpell@gmail.com.