Often times we are quick to label ourselves as “settling” if we renege on one or two expectations for a mate; but in all actuality, the determination of settling should not be dependent upon one or two wants that aren’t being met. Instead, settling should be based on specific needs that aren’t being met.
Knowing the difference between a need and a want is simple: If your need is not met, you will continuously be dissatisfied with the relationship. Trying to convince yourself that your need is an insignificant want may seem tolerable for a while but your tolerance will eventually turn into resentment and discontent. Consequently, you’ll most likely leave the relationship, have many failed attempts in changing the person due to your neglected needs. Conversely, a want will not be a significant hindrance if it’s not met because your needs in the relationship are being met. For example, ideally you wouldn’t want your partner to have any children, but you end up in a relationship with someone who does. This doesn’t act as a hindrance because you’re still satisfied with the relationship due to your emotional and physical needs being met.
So, when is it okay to reconsider your “needs” without categorizing it as settling? I don’t have a clear-cut answer for you, but I can certainly help you figure it out by sharing my experience:
The older I got, the more I realized that a lot of things on my “needs” list were merely insignificant wants that weren’t required for a fulfilling relationship. It was then that I realized I could be missing out on a great guy because I refused to look past his relative–and sometimes minimal–flaws. I was so unwilling to “settle”, not because his flaws were intolerable, but because I was fearful that I wouldn’t be content with the relationship.
“Once I realized that ideal was faulty, I was able to be more accepting of a seemingly flawed man…”
In my perfect world, the person I end up in a relationship with would have impeccable style sense (among many other things) and know that it’s not okay to wear creased sweatpants with Kenneth Cole church shoes. I couldn’t imagine “settling” for anything less until I started dating a Mr. No Style who lacked the fashion sense I so badly desired. We met up for a first date and I couldn’t understand why he thought a FUBU hoodie and mustard color khakis were acceptable to wear outside of Halloween, yard work and/or washing his car. I felt bad because of my obvious shallowness and tried everything short of counseling to get past this HUGE turnoff because I knew it was stupid to ex him out due to the way he dressed. After several failed attempts of, “Babe, I don’t like your Sammy Davis inspired tap shoes. Why don’t we go for something a little more subtle,” didn’t work, I eventually realized I had the choice of leaving the relationship or accepting his flaw. Would I be settling if I choose to stick with a guy who was fashionably challenged? It was then that I realized I had misperceived my ideal of settling.
“Not getting everything I fantasized about in a partner was not indicative of settling…”
Simply put, the list of “needs” we have for a mate should not hinder the authenticity of a good relationship due to trivial wants we deem as mandatory. If you find yourself trying to change what you thought you accepted, that may be an indication that significant needs are not getting met. If you find yourself content with something you thought you couldn’t accept, that may be an indication that your needs are being substantially met. Either way, it is important to understand the magnitude of knowing exactly what you need out of a partner in order to maximize the relationship’s success. Remember: You’re not settling if you date someone with flaws. You’re settling if you continue to date someone whose flaws neglect your needs.
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