All Articles Tagged "settling"
I have a disconcerting habit of keeping some people around longer than I should. So it’s sadly no surprise that I stayed in a “situationship” that looked like a committed relationship, but wasn’t, for way too long. For two years, I spent my time, energy, and effort on a man who could never actually be mine. We didn’t want the same things for our future, and yet, I didn’t feel like starting over with anyone else.
At the time, I made plenty of excuses as to why it made sense to continue the dysfunctional relationship, but in hindsight, it was probably one of the dumbest decisions I’ve made in my adult life, and trust me, I’ve made some less than smart ones. So why did I waste more than 24 months on an in-the-meantime situation? It all boils down to complacency–and a less than positive outlook on dating. Basically, I was tired of dating and also sick and tired of being sick and tired of dating. I’d secretly given up hope (at least for the time being) that there was someone out there for me. And frankly, I was too tired of the dating woes to go out on the scene and find out.
I wrote an article during the tenure of my two-year situationship entitled, “Why We Sometimes Settle,” so I was fully aware that I was playing myself. I was making a conscious effort to devote most of my time to an in-the-meantime man while putting other potential available suitors on hold. And yes, guys were attempting to put their bid in, but I wasn’t buying into them. I was quite comfortable with the man I was in a fake-me-out relationship with. We had fun together, and I genuinely liked having him around. But that wasn’t enough.
One of my older friends simply couldn’t understand my choice. She flat-out asked me, “How in the hell does a woman in her early 30s get tired of dating and give up hope?” She added that I had plenty of years left in me to sit around and settle for whatever came my way. This was my time to enjoy dating, and if it were meant to be, I would find someone worthy and settle down soon enough. In her opinion, it most certainly wasn’t the time to simply settle with a much older man who had made it clear that he didn’t want kids or to be married, despite the fact that I wanted those things.
Still, I knew his routine. I was comfortable being around him. He was like a really great friend with added benefits. I didn’t feel like meeting a new man and getting to know him. I was also very uncertain if it would ever work out for me, and was trying to come to terms with the fact that maybe I’m just not meant to be married.
So these array of emotions coupled with the fact that I felt that a woman had a better chance of meeting a good man at a strip club than in the city I currently reside in, my vision was clouded and my optimism nonexistent. I realized for two years I’d completely given up on love, and my in-the-meantime man was my crutch to hold on to the little bit of hope I had left that I could get along with a man who I enjoyed and who enjoyed me. I realized, I wasn’t just settling when it came to relationships, I was settling when it came to my thinking and the future.
So after losing two years of a proper dating life, what am I doing now to make sure this somber story doesn’t replay itself in my life? Actually, I’m not sure. After constantly interviewing people about relationships for articles I’m working on, listening to horror stories, and replaying my own tumultuous tales, I’m still having a hard time doing as the late Ms. Maya Angelou advised: “trust love one more time.” While I’ve ‘deaded’ my two-year situationship with no intention of going back, my dating life is certainly not enviable. Partly because I still don’t feel like putting in extra effort and I’m still somewhat jaded about past experiences. In no way am I saying this is the way I want to continue, but I’ve yet to figure out how to actually give it another shot. But if I was ever lucky enough to have Oprah randomly ask me her infamous question of “What do you know for sure?” I would say with conviction that I know I wouldn’t allow myself to waste anymore time on another man who could never really be mine.
Moving back to my hometown to kick-start my career in television has been a humbling experience, but it has been even more humbling for my dating life. I moved from Washington D.C. after a 10-year stay, to a city in Tennessee with a population that doesn’t equate to even a small portion of D.C.’s metropolitan area. In addition to that, the selection of single, educated men that don’t have a handful of kids narrows the pool of candidates down even more. So what’s a single girl to do? Well, shamefully, for the past few months I’ve settled. And it’s not until recently that I realized it and finally decided that enough was enough.
I’m not an avid checklist girl. I don’t walk around with a mental checklist crossing men off every time they mispronounce a word that I know is wrong or wear a pair of shoes that I think are equally wrong. Still, I have standards, and I’m usually careful about who I give my time to. After all, I have a full-time job and several other responsibilities. I have goals, obligations, and ambitions, but judging by the way I’ve acted as of late, you would think I had way too much free time on my hands. In the past, I usually kept it all together…business first and if a man comes, he comes. That was my way of thinking. That changed once I moved to Tennessee, partly because the single’s culture here is different. In D.C. you’re just another single girl. In Tennessee, you’re a late bloomer who must be ‘crazy’ because you’re not married and over the age of 30.
I went from a thriving social life in D.C., to one that consisted of going to my mama’s house to watch Tyler Perry movies on BET. While I enjoy family time, I prefer to do it by choice and not because I don’t have any other options.
So imagine my excitement when I met a guy who was single and educated with no kids. The icing on the cake? We had immediate chemistry. Fast forward to a few months of dating and struggling to see eye-to-eye. We still haven’t made things official, although we’ve spent nearly every day together for months.
Because I was socially bored, I tried several times to keep the bond that we had going. I accepted being tolerated by a man as opposed to being wanted by him after a few months, simply because I enjoyed his company and knew that in my temporary new residence, encounters like this would be few and far between. Slowly, though, I realized what I was doing. I was decreasing my value.
Sure, the eligible bachelors in Tennessee weren’t as prevalent as the ones in the other cities I’ve resided in, but that didn’t mean they didn’t exist. And even if they didn’t, since when did I, Erica Williams the overachiever, start settling?
Why am I telling my story of romance gone wrong? Well, because it carries the same theme of so many relationships that women encounter. Sometimes we allow our temporary circumstances to dictate what we tolerate while dating.
You’ve put on a few pounds, so you settle for a man that you can barely stand to look at, simply because you don’t think you’ll find anyone else, anytime soon. Or, you lost your job, but you’ve worked hard in your career to establish yourself and in reality, you will probably find another gig soon. Still, you think you can’t bring anything to the table, so you accept a man who can’t bring anything to the table either–but the difference between the two of you is that he isn’t even trying. He’s content with being mediocre. The old you cringed just thinking about a mediocre man.
Another common settling scenario: You just got out of a long-term relationship and subconsciously you’ve become accustomed to companionship. So you accept the first “Joe Shmoe” that wants to wine and dine you. These instances of settling only wreak havoc on your self-worth in the long run.
In my experience, as a result of settling, my internal value decreased. I forgot that I could actually attract men that are worth having a conversation with, simply because I was so fixated on being comfortable with what I thought was the only option at that time. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed dating the man I told you about. In the beginning, he treated me like I was a queen and we had a lot of fun. In the beginning, he would initiate most of our dating encounters, and for months, we were inseparable. In the beginning, our chemistry was undeniable.
But that was in the beginning.
In the end, after doing a lot of self-reflecting, I realized that I accepted a lot of things that I normally wouldn’t, simply because the dating scene around me looked grim.
Sometimes we settle based on our circumstances without even realizing that we’re doing it. I certainly didn’t notice for a while. It took months of disappointment and repeated heartbreak, but now I do. It’s been the first time I’ve let something like this drag out this long, and I’m going to try my hardest to be more aware so that it will be the last.
I don’t care what any dating expert says, settling never ends well. You owe it to yourself to have the relationship that you want, despite your temporary circumstances.
Dear Very Smart Brotha,
I’ve been dating this man for nearly three years now. When we first met, he told me that he had come out of a divorce two years ago and naturally had a bitter taste in his mouth when it came to marriage. I understood. Later, as we got to know each other a little better, he told me that he didn’t see himself having children. He said that with the type of schedule his job requires, he knows he wouldn’t be able to devote the time he would like to, to a child.
At this point, a year into our relationship, I didn’t know if I wanted children either, didn’t even know if I wanted to be married so I was cool with all of this. I just thought I should enjoy the ride and continue having a good time. And everything was great. But not too long after this, I noticed that women I’d gone to high school and college with were getting engaged, married and then having children.
And almost overnight these things became important to me. I tried to casually bring this up with my boyfriend to see if he had become more open to these things like I had. He hasn’t budged. The most he could offer was us moving in together. Of course I love him and can only imagine having all of this (the marriage, kids, house) with him but now I’m wondering if I could be happy without it. And though I don’t feel this way now, I’m wondering if I’d eventually resent him. What should I do? Should I have read the signs earlier and bailed?
Will I Resent?
Dear Will I Resent?
As I was getting prepared to head to a YMCA basketball league game a couple weeks ago, I realized I hadn’t eaten anything in the past several hours (the 1st bad decision). Since this lack of fuel would likely result in not having much energy on the court, I stopped at Wendy’s on the way there, and shoved two junior bacon cheeseburgers down my throat 15 minutes before game time (the 2nd bad decision).
Dear Dr. Sherry,
I have been dating my boyfriend for nine years now. We were high school sweethearts who (through the grace of God) found a way to keep our relationship going despite attending separate colleges. However, he and I are now both finished with school and moving into our desired careers. I wasn’t raised to “shack up” with a man, but he seems to think that is okay. I have asked him when would we take the next step a number of times over the past year. His answers are always “soon” or “it’s coming,” which are the normal answers a man gives to move past the question at hand. I refuse to live with a man that is not my fiancé or husband. Dr. Sherry, should I except his answer of soon and continue to wait? Or should I move on and chalk these past nine years up as practice?
Is this woman being impatient and impractical? See what Dr. Sherry thinks about whether she should shack up or put her foot down on Essence.
You can love to the point you lose yourself. You can love to the point you forget that your needs, feelings, wants and desires are actually important too. Dating culture may encourage blurring your boundary lines for the sake of choosing any type of love over loneliness.
This is dangerous.
The delicate balance of what matters to you most – your dating non-negotiables – and what you can be flexible about is a necessary dance between self-preservation and being open to new love.
Don’t get this confused with the checklist mentality that was all the rage a few years ago. Walking up to potential loves with non-negotiables that are actually superficial variables (i.e. height) is a sure fire way to miss out the one for you. Non-negotiables are those things that no matter who the person is, love interest or not, you are unwilling to sacrifice. You are unwilling to negotiate or compromise.
No one can tell you what matters to you the most. Yet, people have a funny way of trying to put you down for those things because they are unwilling or unable to be those things for you.
Don’t let them. Most of my dating mishaps started with me thinking I could deal with something that was truly a non-negotiable because I really liked the person. It’s a way of forcing compatibility. You want something to work so you make it work even when the key doesn’t quite fit the lock. For example, romantic gestures matter to me. How someone speaks to me or about others matters to me. But there I was thinking I was asking too much or being sensitive only to find myself out of that relationship wondering why I chose to love someone else more than myself. Why did I ever think that was something I didn’t need when I knew I did.
The first step is deciding that you are worth it. You are worth having some non-negotiables about how you want to be treated and loved. You must decide that there are certain ways you want to be treated, respected and loved that you are not up for debate. Reflect on your past and realize how many people you “gave a chance” even if she or he didn’t touch on that need. Perhaps everything else felt good except your partner didn’t believe in your dream and that really mattered to you. But you compromised, you let it go, and maybe even started to doubt if that dream was really important. You’ve probably found yourself later with someone who did support your dream and wondering how you ever thought it was okay to go without this desire.
This is where you start to pull out and design your non-negotiables.
Determine some things that are your non-negotiables and hold on for dear life. The more you ignore that nagging feeling that this particular action, mindset, etc makes you feel loved and encourages you to love, the more you dishonor your own heart. Stop ignoring the voice that says you don’t like something and listening to the voice that says “but he/she loves me so maybe it’s okay.”
We are growing and so your non-negotiables may change over time. Consult yourself about yourself. Use the wise counsel of friends who love you. But don’t start blurring your boundary lines and needs for the sake of potentially missing out only to end up in a mess. The person who is really for you won’t be 100% perfect but he/she will at least fill your basic non-negotiables.
Be willing to spend the time with yourself reflecting on things that have failed or gone well with lovers in the past. Figure out when you started compromising things that truly mattered to you and be unwilling to do that again. Determine your non-negotiables and love and be loved better.
Maybe you’re sick and tired of being single and you’re willing to date anyone at this point. Or maybe you have low self-esteem and think that you don’t deserve someone way out of your league. Whatever the cause may be, settling is never ideal, no matter the alternative. Here are 14 signs you’re settling for less than you deserve.
Ever so often, my mom, my older sister, and myself find ourselves in the midst of hilarious debates about how differently my sister and I approach men and dating. While my sister prefers the guy with the Abercrombie & Fitch abs, the Colgate smile and the Michael Ealy eyes, I’d much rather get to know the guy with substance and an amazing personality, who doesn’t mind dissecting Bible scriptures for deeper meaning or discussing Harlem Renaissance literature with me (even if he has a few less points in the attractive department).
During our most recent debate, my mother dramatically shook her head as I eagerly reached over our table at Red Lobster to show my sister a photo of a former professor, whom I’d been totally enamored with since our first day of classes. My sister’s eyes grew wide as she rested them on the photo depicting a 30-something male with 1960’s-thick Coke bottle glasses and an afro unruly enough to make Questlove wince.
“My grandkids are doomed,” my mother joked.
“Yeah Jaz, we’re going to have to approve anybody you date from this day forward,” my sister added.
I went into my usual spiel about being way more interested in a guy’s personality and the way that he treats me than what he looks like physically (and they of course yawned as usual). This isn’t to say that I’m not interested in the outward appearance at all, because I am. It just means that the little details that define who a man is are more important than the physical attributes that define what he looks like.
“You know Jaz, dating guys that look like Mookie from Do The Right Thing doesn’t guarantee that your heart won’t get broken,” my mother inerjected in a half-serious, half-joking tone.
“That’s right sister, the ugly ones act up too,” my sister added.
I knew where they were going with this one. You see, there was a time in my life where I wasn’t always like this. Physical appearance played at least 70 percent of the part in my choices when it came to the guys that I dated. I always had to date the bad boy or the fly boy or the class clown. You know, the guy who was the center of attention, because more likely than not, he was exciting and came with tons of drama. I lived for drama, especially in my relationships. I mean, I was not content unless my relationship could easily transfer into a ’90s R&B jam or some soap opera. Then, one day, I got my heart broken for real and all of that changed. I found myself in the middle of a real life soap opera and I didn’t like it one bit. There were women calling my phone. I was stumbling across tasteless photos of scantily clad and sometimes even nude women. Then of course, there was my panic-filled trip to my gynecologist for random STD testing because my imagination had convinced me that my philandering man had passed some incurable disease on to me. Thankfully, I recognized the dysfunction and took note of all of the unnecessary drama I was bringing on myself.
Not long after this revelation, I took a rather long dating hiatus, during which I focused on my wants, needs, goals, things I want and need to change about myself, and even the qualities that I desire in a potential mate. In a nutshell, my preferences in men changed drastically. I certainly don’t believe that I’m taking a safer route by dating the nice guy, it’s just that my priorities have shifted and dating an Adonis is no longer at the top of my list. Although I can understand both sides of this debate, hopefully the women in my life will eventually understand that my shift in attitude is not some strange attempt to guard my heart. I’ve simply grown up, and what’s on the outside isn’t as important to me anymore as what’s on the inside.
Would you say that dating the nice guy is a form of settling out of fear?
Follow Jazmine on Twitter @jazminedenise.
I feel like I need to be more clear when I say that I don’t meet any guys. That’s not true.
I meet nice guys all of the time. I just haven’t met anyone that I’ve connected with yet. I’m not super picky and I’m realistic. I don’t have an obscenely long list of criteria for a mate. I don’t think I’m being ridiculous for waiting to meet someone that I won’t have to fake smile at every day after I realize I don’t really want to be around them.
I know this can sound heartless, but being a nice guy is not enough. I’ve heard my guy friends talk about how a girl is beautiful, smart, driven, great in the kitchen, amazing in bed, adores him and all that good stuff…but they still don’t choose to continue a relationship with her because there is nothing more there. Now I understand that certain situations like that are a little deeper than we are going to discuss here, but why can’t we feel the same? Why can’t we want more than just finding someone who is bearable? Why do we have to settle?
I’ve had a guy go ballistic on me because I told him that I didn’t want to date him anymore and that we had zero chemistry. I put it in nicer words, of course, but he wasn’t trying to hear it. I got called ungrateful and a couple other really not-nice things (only confirming that I made the right decision and ultimately disqualifying him from the “nice guy” category). What really annoyed me was when he listed all of his highly desirable qualities *insert sarcasm* and said I did not know how to appreciate a good man.
Hold on. I could tell that things were not going anywhere on my end, so I thought I was doing the mature thing by ending things early instead of dragging him along while I tried to force feelings I was never going to have. By doing that, I felt I was acknowledging that he was a great guy and I respected him enough not to waste his time. But no. Just because he is a nice guy, I’m supposed to force the situation? I think not. Neither of us would have been happy.
There is a connection I want to have with someone if I plan on making a lifetime commitment to them. I find nothing wrong with waiting for something with more substance than an impressive list of credentials and some manners. Sometimes you have to be honest and let him know: I’m glad that you are a “nice guy” and I am sure that you will make some woman out there very happy someday. But you are not the one for me.
Do you think I am being unreasonable? Do you care about having a deeper connection with someone or are the basics enough?
Jarell Greene/DJ CEO (@djceo) has become synonymous with style and grace fostering a unique and unforgettable musical experience second to none on the New York party scene. His other interests include anything sports related and collecting gaming systems. The thing that attracted him to his girlfriend was her intelligence, sense of humor, fashion sense and her love of music.
Just like any other man I have many flaws. What I find interesting about flaws though is, depending on the context, they aren’t considered flaws. For instance, common sense isn't normally a flaw, but when it comes to love it can be. Nothing about love is ordinary. In fact all of it is extraordinary. There lies my flaw. I apply common sense to everything and that depicts me as a cold emotionless man, which in all honesty isn’t true.
Maybe it’s because I’m an Aquarius or maybe it’s something learned from my dad who raised me. I’m a problem solver. If I’m not happy or something isn’t right I don’t cry about it, I figure out a way to fix it. The initial response for most women is an emotional one. They cry or yell and then want what has gotten them to this state of disarray fixed. Who's right? Who's wrong? Both. But as a man, it is my duty to comfort my woman to let her know it’s going to work out and we are in this together and sometimes that means I have to be emotional.
Both men and women should know one important thing. Just because someone is a good man/woman, it doesn’t mean they are good for you. I think woman, far more than men, are quick to settle with a good man than a man is to settle with a good woman. I know I’m picky for a few reasons: 1) I have far more options to choose from. 2) I’m not easy to be with. 3) At my age, marriage is always in the question and forever is a mighty long time. Like that new Volkswagon commercial says “Choose Your Passengers Wisely”. In my experience, women have been far more focused on the idea of a relationship/marriage than picking the right traveling partner for them. That turns me off because then I don’t feel like it’s about me or us, it’s about the sentence.
Allow me to venture into a field of study I didn’t do to well in at school, math. When you create a mathematical sentence, for example 7 + x = 10, only one number -- x-- can give you that desired result. But if your mathematical sentence looks like this. n + x = 17.5, your variable can be anything to get to that result. Most folks would like to believe they follow the first example but I would stand to say most people, including myself, follow the latter, especially women.
I’m a man who was raised by a man and woman together but learned how to be a man from a man. I know what my role and responsibilities are, but this isn’t the '60s; it’s 2013. I want to be able to take care of my woman; however, I don’t want to have to take care of her due to her own comfort in being taken care of. I need a woman that can take care of herself and us if need be. If I get extremely ill, I need to know my woman can hold us down financially, spiritually, and emotionally. However, the best case scenario would be she’ll never have to take care of us because I will be doing it, not because I have to, but because I want to. I’m a man and I want to be a man to my woman --- a protector, provider, and lover. The only time I want to be a super hero is when you need saving, not want saving. We’re partners, let’s fly together!
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The fear of being alone, rushing into a relationship, and low self-esteem can all lead to settling. For some women, having a guy that is second best is better than having no guy at all. But, if you’re lowering your standards just to not be single or to boost your ego, now’s the time to let it go. Here are 14 signs you’re settling just because.