You may think you're refusing to settle, when in reality you're settling for less than what you really want.
I recently reconnected with a friend of mine from my single, dating days. Back then she and I were searching for Mr. Right together, and we spent a lot of time discussing the men we were dating and analyzing our various relationships.
This woman is beautiful, talented, funny, very hip and is a lot of fun to be around. She's now in her mid-forties.
She's also single.
It really got me thinking about the idea of being picky, and not settling for less than you want.
We both had our lists. Not necessarily written lists (although I had various versions of written lists over the years), but we always carried with us in our minds subconscious lists of our must haves that were the driving force behind deciding whether or not to get involved with a particular guy. And at the top of our lists were always the superficial things like height (both of our guys had to be over 6 feet), weight (I liked slim, she liked brawny), hair color (mine dark, hers blonde), how attractive he was, how stylish, how confident, how athletic, what kind of car he drove, and on and on and on – you get the idea.
We knew we were being very picky, and felt that we deserved to be – after all, we were looking for a partner for life, so he had to be exactly what we wanted, right? So we always held out for our ideal - guys who were tall, dark and handsome, dressed very well, made a lot of money, drove expensive cars, and were extremely charming.
But these same guys also wouldn’t call us when they’d say they were going to, would stand us up and then have a dozen excuses for it, would call us up at the last minute to get together, would leave us hanging for days only to call later on their terms, and often wound up telling us that they were involved with someone else. Never mind that they would think nothing of the broken heart they would leave us with when they dropped us in a heartbeat as soon as someone they thought was better came along. And we put up with it because we thought they were everything we wanted in a guy.
It turns out we weren't picky enough.
It made me realize that the entire time we were busy being so picky about these superficial things that we thought were so important, we were actually settling for much less than our ideal when it came to the things that really mattered. Like how he treated us. Like how honest he was. Like how ethical, dependable, and trustworthy he was. Like how good of a potential husband and father he would make one day down the road.
As I recalled our many combined dating horror stories and the many subsequent conversations we had analyzing and over-analyzing everything about the guys involved and what he said or didn't say, did or didn't do, I realized where my own turning point was. It was when a much older and wiser (and happily married) friend, after listening to my tear filled story of yet another devastating break-up with a guy I had placed so much hope on being the one, said to me, “Think about the qualities you want in the father of your future children, and look for a guy who meets that criteria instead.”
She knew me better than I knew myself, and she recognized what I didn't see at the time – that what was really most important to me was finding a man that I could create a family with, one that would support me in being the great mother that I longed to be, and that would complement me by being the equally great father. It was then that I finally started to evaluate what I really wanted in a partner, and that those qualities started to become truly attractive to me.
Be picky about the right things.
So if you find yourself with your own slew of must haves, or an ever growing list, either physical or mental, of what you want and don't want in a guy, take a good, hard look at what's on that list and see if you're being picky about the right things. Think about what your ideal relationship looks like, how you're treated in that relationship, how you feel in that relationship, and whether or not you want to build a family. Then think about whether each of those things on your list will help you get to that ideal relationship.
If not, it's time to rethink your list.