When it comes to relationships, “settling” has become a dirty word—something that you should never do under any circumstances. But as you get older, you come to realize that no one is perfect and the chances of finding someone that checks every box on your extensive “must-haves” list is probably a pipe dream. Relationships come with compromise, but that’s not necessarily the same thing as settling. The bottom line is you shouldn’t settle, but you should be realistic.
Physical attraction is important but also subjective.
Even if a guy isn’t conventionally attractive with great hair and a perfect body, that doesn’t mean you won’t be physically attracted to him. You’re not settling when you end up with an average looking guy—you’re placing the emphasis on personality over looks, and that’s how it should be.
Having a “type” is holding you back.
If you have it in your head that you refuse to settle for a guy that doesn’t have a super successful career, look like Ryan Gosling, and have a super close relationship with his family then you’re probably going to miss out on some great guys along the way. It’s okay to know what you want, but judging people before you even know them isn’t the way to find love.
How someone treats you matters the most.
In the end, the most important thing you should be looking for in a partner is someone who treats you the way you deserve to be treated—with respect. If you’re being realistic, you’ll end up with someone who treats you right but may not be the Prince Charming you dreamed up in your head. If you’re settling, you’ll end up with whoever is convenient.
You can’t design your perfect boyfriend.
You might have a list of must-have traits you want in a guy, but finding those things isn’t guaranteed, especially all in one person. You aren’t settling just because you’re accepting that you aren’t going to find the perfect-on-paper and in-person boyfriend. You don’t get to create a boyfriend and trying to change someone won’t work either.
Reality isn’t a fairy tale.
In real life, there’s no such thing as happily ever after. There will always be ups and downs and you’re going to have to work for happiness some of the time. Realistically, you might not be enthused about your partner 24/7/365. He might drive you absolutely crazy and you might question your relationship, but choosing to stick it out through the tough times is not settling—it’s life.
You have to pick your battles.
Some things are worth holding out for. You want a guy who is kind, intelligent and treats you with respect and you shouldn’t settle for less. On the other hand, you might ideally want a guy with washboard abs and a job in finance, but do you need those things? Probably not. Don’t fight for things that don’t really matter—it’s just a waste of time and energy.
Sometimes you have to take a risk.
Love is one of the least predictable things in the world. You might think you know who you’re looking for but you really don’t. That’s why you have to be willing to try something different once in a while. It’s just realistic to give more guys a chance and it doesn’t mean you’re giving up on finding what you’ve always wanted. It means you know that you might not find it where you thought you would.
Accepting someone the way they are isn’t settling.
Everyone is flawed, but being in love means wanting to be with someone despite those flaws. You aren’t settling because you choose someone that isn’t perfect—you’re just following your heart and your heart doesn’t care about your perfect boyfriend checklist.
Everyone has their own priorities.
Settling to one person might not even be close to settling to another. That’s why you have to know what’s important to you and what you’re willing to compromise on. Your friends and family might give you a hard time for “settling”, but the truth is, no one knows what you need better than you and it’s your choice who you end up with.
No one is perfect.
Any guy you date is human and that means he’s flawed. You won’t fall in love with someone because they’re perfect, you’ll fall in love with them because they’re not but you accept them just the way they are anyway—and wouldn’t want them to be any other way.
Building a strong relationship is your responsibility too.
Saying you’re settling sounds like you think you have way more to offer than the person you’re with does. But let’s be honest—you’re not exactly perfect, either. You both have to put in the work to make things better and that’s not settling for less—that’s being realistic about what it’s like to be in an adult relationship.
Even your non-negotiables could be open to interpretation.
You want a guy who’s attractive and ambitious, right? Well, that’s pretty vague. You might think that means one thing but once you actually apply real live people to your formula, it’s not so black and white. Ambitious might not mean he has a white collar job and takes luxurious vacations. It might mean he owns his own business and works with his hands. Either way, a single personality trait can’t possibly define him.
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