My Thoughts on Settling

I can sum them up in one word: DON’T

There. World’s shortest blog post.

Yeah, you wish!

Today one of my friends said, “Sometimes you’ve just gotta give up what you want and settle for what you can actually get”. She was talking about dating.

I think I must have had a look on my face somewhere between disgust and shock because before I could even answer, she went on to comment, “You’ve got it easy…you’re happy.”

Yeah, NOW I am.

But that was not always the case.

Settling. Sad to say, I have done it. I think as women we (the forty-somethings) were somewhat raised to do so in some regards, albeit misguidedly, by a generation of mothers who wanted gracious, lady-like,  “good girls” as daughters. Daughters who didn’t make waves, who could procure husbands, run households, and ultimately become mothers themselves.

When my own mother instilled in me that I should be “gracious at all costs” I’m pretty sure she didn’t actually mean at all costs. She didn’t mean to roll over, to be a doormat, to subjugate my own needs for the status quo. She just meant to stay under the radar, not complain, and do what nice girls do.  Like she had done all her life.

Growing up, whenever I rebelled or spoke up at inopportune times (which was pretty much always), I was met with this phrase: “Oh Zoe, you don’t want to be that kind of girl do you?” And although I wasn’t exactly sure what “that kind of girl” was, I knew from her distasteful tone that it was probably not a good thing to be.

As I came to discover in later years, however, turns out I was one.

I am one.

It took me a long time to  figure out and make peace with the fact that I could be both a poised, gracious lady and a strong woman who stood up for what was important to her all the while. I remember having a conversation with her, adult to adult, over martini’s one evening relating something or other I no longer recall  – that she didn’t find terribly ladylike – and her using the “that kind of girl” line on me. I said, “Mum…if my alternative is caving on what I believe in then yeah, I do want to be that kind of girl.”

She just sipped at her drink, nodded contemplatively and said, “I suppose you have a point there”. She knew; she had done her share of settling too.

I have settled for less than optimal relationships far too many times, and I have also had the deep abiding gut-knowledge that I was with someone who was merely settling for me.

I’m here to tell you, both sides of the settling coin suck.  Settling sells everyone involved short.

A curious thing happens when you settle – you put up this vibrational block to the universe,  so that what you really want can’t get to you.

Like attracts like. That’s not relationship blah blah, that’s physics. If you are occupied with a relationship that’s just meh (for whatever reason…to avoid being lonely, to pass time, to get a booty call now and then,  etc), you don’t allow yourself to be open so that the right relationship can find you.

I see people (both male & female) settling all around me. Unhappy. Unfulfilled. Restless. Keeping their options open. Giving away their power and all the while complaining about feeling powerless.

That is no way to live my friends. No way at all.

At the beginning of this year, I’d had enough. I decided that no matter what, there would be no more settling. Period. Even if it meant being alone for the remainder of my days, so be it.

I sat and wrote down (yes, in my Filofax) what qualities I wanted in a mate. Not frivolous things like physicality or status; deal-breakers. I also wrote down what I felt I had to offer as a partner. Turns out, it’s a lot.

Then I wrote down what I required from a relationship. Sort of like Maslow’s hierarchy of relationship needs. They were simple things, really. Simple but important. And I noted what I was willing to put in.

With my new determination to hold out for what I had outlined, bad date after bad date no longer left me feeling defeated and demoralized. I simply went on dates when I felt like it, stopped dating for a while when I didn’t, and stood firm in the knowledge that I would be perfectly fine as long as I stayed true to myself and what I knew I wanted. What I was capable of having.

Society may eschew the single, middle-aged woman as somehow damaged goods, but I was pretty hell bent that I would not be part of a couple again if it meant being in a relationship that left me wanting. Enough with the wanting already.

I’m sure I pissed some people off with my directness – both in turning down dates with those I knew right out of the gate weren’t going to be compatible, and by politely declining more date #2’s than I can count. But hey, my goal was never to stroke egos…it was to finally find what was right for me.

Happily, I did. It took four months (which really isn’t bad in the grand scheme of things) from the day I laid down the anti-settling law.

In a way it felt like taking a giant leap of faith, just like my favorite Tarot archetype, the Fool. He’s not a fool in that he’s a jester or idiot, rather he represents the spirit in search of experience. He is depicted at the edge of a precipice with an air of insouciance, ready to step off – open and spontaneous to whatever may come. Ready to take a leap of faith.

It’s not a leap hoping you’ll discover you can fly…or even that you will land safely; it is faith in yourself, that you can handle whatever comes to you on your journey.  Ever trusting that whatever experience you have will be of value to you.

The point being to take the journey. And make sure it’s your journey.

So here are, from personal experience, my  tips to begin walking the path of She Who Will Not Settle:

Love yourself first…believe in yourself and be absolutely certain that you are 100% worthy of holding out for what you really want.  You are, trust me on this.  Relationships don’t end because they fail; because you have somehow failed, they end because whatever that person came into your life to teach you (or you them) has been taught.  A string of bad dates don’t mean you’ll never fine someone, they refine you and give you the opportunity to figure out what you don’t want. Sometimes as important as figuring out what you do want. Stop focusing on finding “the one” who will complete you…that’s bs…you are the one;  complete yourself.

Love attracts love. Start with you.

Cultivate happiness in your life. Be grateful. Slow down and find beauty. Every day. What you feel is what you will radiate. Re-frame the things that get you down, look at them from new angles. Find a fresh perspective that will lift you up not bog you down. Feelings come from thoughts. So choose your thoughts wisely. Victims, drama queens (or kings) and Eeyores do not attract upbeat, positive people.

Happiness begets happiness.

Don’t be afraid to play the Fool. The tarot Fool. Give up your fear, open your heart, take the risk, make the leap. You will not regret it, I promise.

Don’t settle; don’t esteem yourself of such little value. Because, in case you didn’t know, you are unique and wondrous and so very, very precious.  I know that if you can find a way to believe that, and put that kind of energy out into the world, the right relationship will respond to your beacon and come to you.

How could it not?

I’m so glad I quit settling. The whole vibe of my relationship now is entirely different than any other before it. Because I’m coming into it from an entirely different place; a centered, truly authentic place. It’s not about being perfect (whatever that even means) or finding something/someone perfect…there is no growth in perfection.

It’s about challenging any negative beliefs you cling to about yourself, shedding your limitations…embracing, once and for all, every bit of who you are. And discovering that it’s someone loving and lovable.

Even if you’re that kind of girl ; )

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. AngelJem
    Jul 25, 2012 @ 08:40:46

    Settling for less than you deserve is no way to go. People laugh at me when I tell them that when I was 15 I had a life plan; the only point unfulfilled is to be a bestselling author! but I have my husband, children and I teach so that’s mostly fulfilled. I love that you listed all the qualities for partner and you…. 4 months is quick! And be That Sort of Woman. Go for it!

  2. kanalt17
    Jul 25, 2012 @ 10:26:30

    I completely agree with everything you’re saying. It doesn’t pay to settle, and you have to be tru to yourself first and foremost. Also, we wouldn’t love Zoe so much is she were anything but herself! Great post!

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