9 Things I Learned From “Settling” & Why I Won’t Do It Again

Depending on who you talk to, “settling” in a relationship can be a good thing or a bad one. If you’re talking to your other single friends, they tell you to hold out for the best boyfriend and don’t settle for anything less. If you’re talking to my mom, she’ll tell you to keep giving guys a chance well after you’re sure you’re not interested in them. You see it in movies, too. Often romantic comedies have the plot that the stuck-up protagonist just had to let her guard down and accept love from the guy she always overlooked. But is that lesson a good one? Shouldn’t you be excited about your guy right from the start? In my experience, settling is always a bad thing.

No, I’m not talking about “settling” as in dating a guy who’s 5’11” when you normally won’t go below six feet. I’m talking about staying with guys that I wasn’t attracted to just because they liked me, and because there wasn’t anything really wrong with them. I’ve been in several relationships that I settled for, and it was a bummer every time. For the last few years, I’ve sworn off settling and have been so much happier. If this sounds like you right now, learn from my mistakes and check out the reasons why you shouldn’t settle (and why I won’t do it ever again).

  1. It’s a waste of time. Have you ever been in a long-term relationship and, when it ended, you weren’t all that sad about it? That’s because you were with someone you’d settled for. In my case, I was over that thing (AKA a relationship that lasted almost four years) in only a week. That’s evidence right there that the relationship was a complete waste of time.
  2. It’s a bummer for him. It can’t feel good to be in such a lopsided relationship. He wants the same love that he’s giving, but he won’t get that from me if I settle for him. And for that, this relationship is just as much a waste of time for him as it is for me.
  3. It’s a bummer for me. Just like rejection in general, it’s always worst to be the person being dumped or the one that’s being settled for. But it still sucks for the one doing the settling. I constantly felt doubt about my choices and questioned why I was doing this. Unhappiness? Check.
  4. Declining a date doesn’t make me a bad person.One of the biggest reasons to settle is fear. And one of those fears is seeming like a bad person. I didn’t want to break anyone’s heart–especially when there wasn’t anything really wrong with any of these guys besides not being attracted to them–so I gave in and stayed well beyond the expiration date. But really, declining a date doesn’t make me (or you) a bad person. Plus, I broke hearts in the end anyway. Might as well do it as soon as possible.
  5. I’m missing the guys who could have been great. I think about the guys I came across in any relationships I settled for (and there have been more than one) and can’t help but wonder what could have been. Perhaps I’d be married right now and in the best relationship of my life. I blame myself.
  6. I tried to convince myself that I was happy.Minds are weird and they play tricks on you. When part of me wanted to stop dating a guy because I just wasn’t “feeling it,” another part of me would say, “Well, you could grow to love him.” When I eventually did love him, my mind would say, “who cares if you love him but aren’t in love with him? This is the best you’re gonna do.” Shut up, brain.
  7. I put up with more than I should have. Settling isn’t just about how you feel about a guy — it’s also about what you’ll put up with. Most women I know who hate being alone will settle for any guy who comes along so there’s no single period. But it turns out when you reach for the closest guy you find, you often end up with a bad one. I found myself ignoring a lot of things that I shouldn’t have, just because I didn’t want to be alone.
  8. It’s not always about the guy.Before any guys I dated see this and send me nasty texts: It wasn’t usually about you. The guys could have been totally nice and fun, but if I wasn’t feeling it, I wasn’t feeling it. They didn’t do anything wrong–I just wasn’t attracted to them. You can’t force yourself to be attracted to someone no matter how much you have in common.
  9. It’s better to be single than be in a bad relationship. What has happened since I vowed to avoid settling? I’ve been on some dates. I even had my constitution tested and thankfully avoided the urge to settle. But that also means I’ve been single for a while. Guess what: It isn’t bad. Being single is way better than settling for a mediocre relationship.
Trisha is a full time writer living in Montana. In her free time, she paints mountainscapes on her skin with body paint and reads a ton of YA lit.