Dating in Your 40s is a different experience than dating in your 20s. You’ve been around the block a few times and, likely have a marriage or long term relationship (or two!), in the rear view mirror.
You know relationships are hard, and you’re acutely aware of how challenging it is to find a quality partner.
You’re also hitting the phase of life where you’re questioning life and craving more purpose and meaning in how you spend your time. While you’re not “old,” you’re starting to become aware of the passing of time, and that likely produces thoughts of who you will be spending all that time with as you start to enter a new phase of life.
As you’re looking ahead to your 50s, 60s, etc. you don’t want to spend those years alone.
So with that perfect storm brewing, if you’re like a lot of people, when you find someone, you settle.
Unfortunately, while creating a life with someone is what you want, settling is one of the worst things you can do for yourself and your future.
If you crave a partner that fulfills you and lights you up...you can’t settle.
WHY DO PEOPLE SETTLE?
Whenever you settle, you compromise your desires to accept less than what you want or need (and that goes for anything). “Good enough” and “better than nothing” are the mindsets behind settling.
In other words, settling is giving up.
People settle for a variety of reasons but, while some things are worth settling for, others are too important, and settling should never be a factor. A life partner and romantic relationship fall into this category.
Let me give you an example...
Earlier this year, I traveled to across country. By the time I arrived late in the evening, I was starving! My plan was to get to my hotel and grab something nearby. I don’t typically eat a lot of fast food, but I was okay with something quick and convenient since my options were limited. Sadly, the only available choice was a particular fast food place that I don’t like. But, I was so hungry that it was good enough, and I forked over my money and happily dove into my order. After a few bites, I couldn’t stomach it anymore and tossed it in the trash. I ate just enough to alleviate my hunger, but I didn’t feel satisfied.
But, knowing this, why do so many people continue to settle for someone that isn’t ideal?
AFRAID OF BEING ALONE
The fear of spending life alone is probably the biggest reason people settle. Their fear is greater than their desire. They settle for a person - almost any person - simply to have the +1 in their life.
This fear could be because of a lack of self-esteem, a pushy parent, or not having established a healthy relationship with themselves.
They see a partner as the missing piece that completes their life, so even if the person isn’t the right fit, they fill the position with whoever comes along that is 'good enough.' In doing so, they sacrifice what they actually crave - a fulfilling, happy, and mutually fulfilling relationship - for someone that alleviates their fears simply with their presence.
CRAVE A 'SOUL MATE'
For a lot of people, they deeply desire finding their ‘soul mate.' I’m not sure I believe that one person out there that exists just for us. I do believe there is a certain type of person that is ideal for each of us based on who we are, but many different people can fall into this category.
Regardless of whether it’s one or several people, the main things people are craving are the deep connection, mutual love, respect, support, and a little fun.
They want that person that just gets them and makes them a better person just by being with them.
Unfortunately, in their quest to find this, people get so afraid they won’t find it, that they settle for someone that is “good enough” or “better than nothing.”
By settling, you’re making your worst fear come true...You deny yourself the opportunity to find the right person, simply by settling for the “good enough” person.
You deny yourself the opportunity to find the right person, simply by settling for the “good enough” person.
IDENTITY DEFINED BY HAVING A PARTNER
Finally, another big reason people settle is they tie their identity to having a partner. They feel they’re nothing if they don’t have a boyfriend/girlfriend or husband/wife in their life.
Without having a strong sense of self, these individuals look to someone...anyone else to make them whole.
Unfortunately, when you have this mindset, settling allows you to fill that need of having someone in your life.
WHY YOU SHOULDN’T SETTLE
I’ve never been one to settle, so I could go on forever explaining why this is a bad idea.
Human beings are complicated creatures. It’s not easy to find the person that meets you where you are, and your lives mesh together in a perfectly imperfect way. Everyone knows a couple that has been together forever, and it seems as if they were custom made for each other.
Everyone wants to be in that relationship, but you can’t force that kind of connection, and if you give up on trying to find it by settling, you’ll never experience the beauty of that type of relationship.
It makes me sad to see so many people settling when it comes to dating and relationships and I believe it’s a big part of why there are so many divorces these days. People are settling and after a few years of living with someone that isn’t the right fit for them (and vice versa), the dissatisfaction becomes too much.
Let’s look at some of the top reasons, in my opinion, on why you shouldn’t settle
NEVER TRULY SATISFIED
Think of it as eating bland, tasteless oatmeal for every meal for the rest of your life. Yes, it’ll keep you from being hungry, but you won’t be satisfied. You’ll crave something with more flavor and foods that make you excited to eat. You’ll want something that surprises you from time to time. You’ll start obsessing over food. No, you won’t be hungry, but you won’t be happy.
It’s the same thing when settling in a relationship. You won’t be truly satisfied because you’re not with someone that can fill your cup and be the person you need in your life. Sure, for the first few years it may feel like it’s fine, but in the long run, you’ll always want more.
DESERVE THE RIGHT PERSON
If you’ve never experienced being in a relationship with someone that gets you, respects you, supports you and loves you exactly as you are, then you’ve missed out (this is assuming you return the same to your partner!). You can’t force this or make this happen if someone isn’t the right match for you.
Everyone deserves this type of connection and relationship and it’s worth holding out for because it is out there and it does exist.
FORCING YOUR PARTNER TO SETTLE
It’s one thing to choose for yourself to settle, but when you do that, you’re also making that choice for another person. If you don’t feel your partner is the right fit for you, then you’re not the right fit for them.
By staying in the 'just good enough' relationship and settling, you are keeping your partner from finding the right person because of your fears.
HOW TO SETTLE-PROOF YOURSELF
Some people are like me...they refuse to settle. For others, it’s their standard mode of operation when it comes to dating.
What’s the difference between these two types of people? A strong sense of self-worth.
The person that doesn’t settle knows their value and knows they’re worth the right person, so they won’t settle for less.
So, that’s the first step...boost your self-worth.
In addition to a strong sense of self-worth, there are other ways you can settle-proof yourself...
LOVE YOURSELF AND YOUR LIFE
This tip ties in with the self-worth, but when you love yourself, you won’t settle for less because you know you’re worth the relationship you desire. When you love your life, you won’t need another person to fill the voids. You’ll look for someone to complement the amazing life you’re living.
EMBRACE BEING SINGLE
I love being in a relationship (if it’s a good one!), but I also love being single. Regardless of what phase you’re in, embrace it. There’s a lot to love about flying solo and when you learn to love being single, you won’t be afraid to ditch a relationship that isn’t working for you.
Get clear on the non-negotiables in what you’re looking for in a person and relationship and then don’t compromise on those. They’re non-negotiables for a reason, so if you settle on those particular qualities, you’re setting yourself up for heartbreak (and potentially wasting years of your life in the process!).
STOP BEING AFRAID OF BEING ALONE
When a fear settles in, it makes you imagine scenarios that aren't likely to happen. If you walk away from a 'just good enough' relationship, you shouldn't fear that you will always be alone.
You will not always be alone. You just won’t.
Look around you. There are plenty of people out there looking for love. You won’t be single forever. I promise.
Settling in a relationship is like a puzzle piece that doesn’t quite fit, but you want it to because it’s so close. You don’t want to keep looking for that missing piece; you want to move on to another section. But, in the end, you know you have to throw it back in the pile and keep looking because the puzzle won’t be complete with the wrong piece. It’s close, but it’s not the right one.
When you get clear on what you want from a partner and a relationship and can see how that would look in your life, you’ll be less likely to settle for a person or partnership that doesn’t fit that vision.
You deserve to have the love you crave, but if you settle, you’ll never find it... I promise.
So, drop the fears, boost your confidence, and hold out for the right person and the right relationship.