Don’t Settle For Almost Good Enough—You’ll Always Wish You Held Out For The Best

You wouldn’t hesitate to break things off with a guy who’s the opposite of what you’re looking for in a boyfriend, but what about the one who almost fits the bill? You know, the sorta-cute, pretty decent dude who’s inoffensive and sweet and maybe even wants to marry you and have your babies? If you were lonely enough, you might be tempted to try and make it work with him, but here’s why you shouldn’t:

  1. Your needs are valid. You aren’t asking for too much. You just want a guy you can bond with and feel happy around. Those specifications look different for every woman—and yes, can be damn hard to satisfy. Still, since the alternative is settling for a man you don’t feel bonded with and happy around, the right one is certainly worth waiting for.
  2. You’re capable of finding true love. Not only is it completely legit to know what you want in a man, it’s also totally possible to meet that man. Whether you bump into him at a specialty food market or snap him up from a dating app, your options are ever-expanding. Does that mean you’ll also have to slog through a bigger pool of jerks? Possibly, but it’s not much different from a Google search. What you need is out there. You simply need to develop your search skills and set your parameters.
  3. You should never be ashamed to say no. I don’t care how cool he seems on his OKCupid profile. I don’t care if he’s a special education teacher who spends weekends with the volunteer fire department—not even if he appears to have all the must-have qualities you mentioned on your own profile.  If Mr. Saintly annoys the crap out of you in person, who cares how good of a human being he is? You don’t owe anybody a “chance.” You owe yourself the confidence to make your own choices.
  4. You should never be ashamed to say yes. Okay, so THIS fella is a struggling novelist who works at a gas station and self-publishes his kooky fantasy series. Your family wishes you’d settled with someone more stable, but dammit, the writer understands your soul in a way no one else ever has. Screw what anyone else thinks! Feel free to be happy in whatever relationship suits you best. Skipping out on love to appease others is merely another form of settling.
  5. You may hate singledom, but the wrong guy will only make you feel worse. At a certain point, being single can really suck. It doesn’t feel adventuresome anymore. More than exciting, the uncertainty becomes painful. So when a guy comes along who seems “okay” or “close enough,” you’re tempted to accept him like you figure a responsible grown-up would. The truth is, being trapped in the wrong relationship won’t even make you feel less alone. What could be more isolating than getting stuck with someone you don’t love?
  6. Your needs may change when you meet someone amazing. You never want to date a paranormal enthusiast or a long-haired metal head or a musical theater buff but you may one day find yourself captivated by a man who fits all the traits you thought you couldn’t stand. So don’t worry that holding out for a guy who meets your standards might cause you to miss your chance at love. If you’re meant to connect with him, your preferences will evolve. You won’t be settling because the change of heart will be authentic. And by the same token, if something inside is telling you he’s not a good fit, he probably isn’t.
  7. You have to trust your gut. Nobody understands you better than you understand yourself. Not your mom, not your mentor, not anybody. Yes, they love you. Yes, they’re pushing you toward Joe Stable-But-Unexciting because they want you to be safe and supported. Of course, you want to feel safe and supported too but chemistry is still important. If it’s not there, it can’t be faked. Respect your instincts. Do what you KNOW right for you, not what others think is right for you.
  8. You’ll discover that the frustration of waiting was worth it in the end. Happy couples seem to forget how much they struggled to find their match. That romantic amnesia is obnoxious to deal with when you’re the single girl, but it’s actually a positive sign. It shows that love is timeless. No matter how long it takes to get there, the reward erases the pain of the journey.
  9. You can keep working on yourself while you’re searching for “The One.” Finding a guy isn’t something you do instead of having a life. There’s nothing wrong with feeling anxious to meet your match, but don’t make this process your full-time extracurricular activity. Self-confident, interesting people tend to attract one another. The more deeply you know yourself and honor your own passions, the better situated you’ll be to meet the guy who makes the whole search worth the effort.
  10. You’re allowed to have doubts. It’s okay to be lonely, frustrated, or even angry, so do whatever you need to do to let those emotions out. Whether it’s a night of wine-fueled karaoke to Alanis Morissette songs or a weekend sad-movie marathon, let those feels out however you need to. But don’t let desperate emotions determine your romantic future.
  11. You’re not on your last chance. Where’d we get this crappy idea that we all need to hurry up and find “good enough” to avoid dying alone? I don’t care how many boys you’ve dated, slept with, fought with, divorced from—you’re not a lost cause. Finding the love you’re meant for is not out of your reach.You don’t need to gratefully curl up beside some lukewarm suitor out of fear no one better will have you. Please don’t give up.
  12. You deserve the right relationship. This world wants women to feel a little guilty for being single. People are suspicious of a gal who holds out for what she wants. They call you snobby, picky, unrealistic. We’ve all faced those unfounded accusations. But here’s the only thing you need to remember when dealing with your critics: screw them. Every last one of them. Forget the naysayers. Love yourself enough to follow your heart.
Jackie Dever is a freelance writer and editor in Southern California. When she's not working, she enjoys hiking, reading, and sampling craft beers.