I Couldn’t Help But Wonder… In a city of great expectations, is it time to settle for what you can get?

Settling.

The dirtiest word in a single girl’s vocabulary.

No one wants to settle, no one wants to be accused of settling. No one wants to be a settler or a settlee.

If you’re anything like me and my friends, you probably fear the ‘S’ word the same way we fear Madonna claws, long term unemployment and getting on the wrong side of Kris Jenner. Settling means giving in. Settling means giving up the things that you want out of life, the things that you value in a partner and just taking what you can get. It means making sacrifices about who you are and everything you ever could be. Scary, isn’t it? And we’ve all got friends who are in unhappy relationships because they’d rather be with someone, anyone, than no one at all and we’ve all sworn to each other that we will never ever find ourselves in the same situation.

Unfortunately, there comes a time in every single girl’s life when she has to make some tough choices – what do you want more, the fairy tale prince or a real life partner? To stand by your principals or to have a family? It sounds harsh but sometimes, that is what it comes down to. We ladies are on a clock and that clock can be persuasive. So persuasive that we make, what can look like some dubious choices.

The problem as I see it is, the older I get, the better I know myself. I am fully aware of what I can and can’t put up with in a partner, what I can compromise about in my life and what is an absolute deal breaker. When I was younger, it was a lot easier to throw myself head first into relationships that I wouldn’t even consider today because I wasn’t so well educated about myself. You want to play tennis every single Sunday rendering any and all weekend plans null and void for four years? GO AHEAD! I can’t see that flying with me these days. Now, unless I feel like I’m getting enough of my boxes ticked (yes, I know, LOL) I’m incredibly reluctant to get into a relationship for fear of falling into the settling trap. Granted, my biological clock hasn’t really started ticking yet so it’s easy for me to be objective. I would be very happy to revisit the above statement in five years if I’m still babyless.

My one worry is that we women have made Settling into a monster. There are few things we love more than setting up traps for the rest of ladykind and I have definitely used the ‘I just don’t want to settle’ line as an excuse to explain why I’m single when really all I’m thinking is ‘WHY DOES NO ONE LOVE ME?’ So we make ‘settling’ the scary thing, scarier than being alone, and once it gets around that the cool kids aren’t doing it, the concept is given the same alienating power as line dancing, corkscrew perms and coloured mascara*. But just as Harry Potter taught us, if you take away the fear of the word, you take away its power. Because really, what does settling mean?

For example, I offer you this entirely hypothetical situation where a lady who may or may not have been me was head over fabulously stylish heels for a man who ticked a lot of my, I mean, her boxes. This is both a fact and a euphemism. But because he made my (OK, WHATEVER, it was me) heart uncontrollably poundy and was ever so clever and ever so handsome and he understood me in a way that I hadn’t felt understood before, I was willing to overlook all the other things about him that weren’t right. He could be distant and vague, he was emotionally non-committal, consistent only in his inconsistency and at times he was just plain selfish. When things were good, they were very, very good. When things were bad, I was medicated. Obviously these were all giant, flapping red flags, slapping me in the face on a daily basis but because I had feelings, I was prepared to settle for much less than I needed or deserved.

However, according to girl rules, if I had stayed with this fella, I wouldn’t have been settling. I would have been the all-conquering hero who got the guy. But at what cost? In hindsight, even though the feelings are all still there, I realise there was no way I could have got what I needed or wanted out of life from this man. So wouldn’t that have been more like settling than dating a guy who isn’t quite five ten, doesn’t have dark hair and has never even considered medical school?

Someone older and wiser than myself told me recently that finding a real partner is like buying a house. You go in with a list of all your must haves and end up compromising, like, maybe you’re not going to get the double garage but you absolutely can’t live without the south-facing garden. It made sense when she said it, honest. And so I’m re-evaluating the concept of settling and debating the difference between the ‘S’ word and the ‘C’ word. No, not that one, ‘Compromise’. I still want butterflies, I still want my heart to pound when I think of my lover but I also want someone who supports me, respects me and loves me and I want to feel the same way about him.

Wow. Doesn’t all of this make sense when you see it written down? But will knowing it actually change anything for any of us? No, I know. SHEESH.

* I know everyone keeps bringing it back but really, who is using it? WHO?http://0

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