Why You’re Destined to Settle in Love

You’re probably not going to like this very much, but I can say with certainty that if you choose to love someone, you will settle…and that’s not a bad thing.

Whether you’re willing to admit or refuse to accept the reality of personal imperfection, on some level, we will all settle. I realized this after a number of failed relationships and cringe-worthy breakups, finally arriving at a partner who I love deeply…and at the saddening, yet bizarrely comforting realization that no one is ever going to be my “perfect match.”

Let me explain.

Aloneness is our natural state. We come in alone, leave alone, and so it goes…you know the adage. However, relationships of any kind often serve to cloak this reality and quell our longing, bringing fulfillment, meaning, and purpose to our private alcoves of inner emptiness. We seek partners in an effort to feel seen, accepted, and most importantly, truly understood. We are convinced that the sign of a worthwhile partner is one who can read our minds and understand our inner world without aid.

That’s why I decided to stop listening to idealistic and good-intentioned, yet delusional advice. Because no one inherently knows what you like or don’t like, what your boundaries are, what behaviors make you uncomfortable and are intolerable, how you best feel loved, or what your values are.

Those things must be taught, which challenges you to approach love with vulnerability, honesty, patience, and the overwhelming humility it takes to surrender the entitlement you feel around what you “should” be receiving. To remain committed, we enter an agreement with the understanding that we will consistently be required to play the role of both teacher and pupil.

For years, I was convinced that potential partners weren’t good enough because they didn’t already know how to be amazing boyfriends, hadn’t already guessed my moods, or understood what I was trying to say with my actions rather than open conversations.

Over and over again, I would see articles riddled with a naive romanticism that encouraged me “never to settle” and to only date someone when or if they demonstrated X, Y, or Z behaviors on this dangerous and imaginary, “list.” I preemptively placed conditions and restrictions on potential lovers before I’d met them. I walked away from promising opportunities for superficial reasons. You, like me, then begin the endless search for that person who will somehow make sense of the perpetually lonely and confusing human condition.

If that’s the formula you rely on to seek a partner, good luck. You will most likely end up unhappily committed or dissatisfied…because love and compatibility just don’t work that way.

The School of Life has an amazing video that helps demonstrate our ideals about love:

Love requires us to privately mourn our high ideals and expectations surrounding love. It forces us to grieve our bitter disappointments and begs us to forgive others for not being what we wish they were, or exactly what we need at any given moment. When you’re rigid in love and convinced that a person who doesn’t already know your mind is a dud, you’re in for a long, lonely road of regretful realizations.

This is not to say we are destined for a life of unending suffering and aloneness. Nor is it an encouragement to remain in an abusive, demoralizing, or completely loveless and miserable relationship. It is to stress that we have to reimagine the means by which we evaluate potential partners, their strengths and weaknesses, and our personal tolerance for those aspects of others that drives us crazy.

If we remain exceedingly unsettled by the possibility that we – the most special human we know – would ever arrive at a partner who is anything less than perfect, we view compromise as a shameful weakness. We refuse to entertain a more mature and truthful way of perceiving it – that to be with another person is to be consistently challenged to accept and forgive each other’s less desirable qualities, flaws, and failures, while celebrating the parts we do love, maintaining a definitive boundary between togetherness and separation.

It’s time to free ourselves from the cycle of demanding perfection, refusing to explain what we’re truly looking for, then bitterly wondering why we’re alone. Allow others to surprise you and recognize that sometimes it’s okay to be generous with second chances. No love story will ever endure if you’re kicking someone to the curb every time they make a mistake or display weakness.

 

 

“Single” and “Lonely” Can Be Mutually Exclusive.

I always thought it was bizarre that we called it “being single” since, realistically, you are always physically, mentally, and emotionally single. Even when we’re immersed in a relationship, we’re technically single. So I’m curious as to why this label has become something that sometimes holds negative connotations.

Being single can be completely liberating, since there’s a lot of freedom that comes with it, as well as a lot of energy and space for deeper exploration of ourselves. That being said, yes, it can be really lonely sometimes, especially when you come home to visit your friends and they all have significant others, or when you’ve failed at something you really wanted and reject yourself, or when you’re pms-ing and you make the colossal mistake of watching The Notebook which, by the way, you’re a liar, Ryan Gossling, because no one behaves like that without receiving a restraining order.

Looking around and seeing a lot of the people who I love be in love is inspiring, yet there’s that tiny, discouraged voice in the back of my mind that reminds me of how not in love I am, then punishes me for not finding “the one” yet. (Which, I think there could be like 6 million “ones” but that’s for another post). What I think we need to remember is that just because we’re not in love with a person, doesn’t mean that we can’t be in love with the world around us, and the striking, imperfect, beings that we are. There are so many different things that we can channel our passion into, and it isn’t limited to romance. Sometimes being a tiresome perfectionist, I spent so much of my life convincing myself that a relationship was the last building black to the unrealistic framework of my “perfect life.”

Anddddd, I was wrong as fc*k.

After several crash and burn relationships, mostly based on the need I had to satiate my craving for a void to be filled, I’ve come to realize that being single isn’t a curse or something to be ashamed of the way it’s so often portrayed in pop culture.

Being single is not synonymous with being lonely, we make it that way with our beliefs and understanding of intimacy.

It’s actually one of the best gifts that you can give to yourself. It presents an opportunity for you to get to know yourself, your triggers, your desires, boundaries, and patterns, that way when you enter another relationship, you’ve got more clarity about what you’re actually looking for. Being in a relationship is also not going to fix every issue you’ve ever had, or give you the contentment we’re all striving for, and if those are your reasons for entering one – it may end up being an unhealthy distraction and you may want to revisit your rationale.

You aren’t going to be lonely forever. Maybe just for now, and that’s okay, because like every other feeling, it’s fleeting. It isn’t going to follow you through your days and nights like a long, empty hallway in a vacant house. If you allow it to, it’s going to move through you, integrating itself, then dispersing again outwardly. Loneliness gives us relativity, and it allows us to appreciate the gifts of closeness, knowing, and intimacy that we receive when we finally enter a new relationship.

We just need to be patient with ourselves, and learning to love and rely on ourselves when we’re feeling disconnected, rejected, or alone is a priceless investment in ourselves.

Don’t be afraid of loneliness, it’s only temporary.

 

We Need to Have More Uncomfortable Conversations. Here’s How to Have Them.

I was once given some advice and it went something like this, “Never discuss politics or religion and you’ll have friends for life.” Continue reading “We Need to Have More Uncomfortable Conversations. Here’s How to Have Them.”

Marriage in Our Twenties: A Realization

When I see a new Facebook post about marriage, my initial reaction is, Yikes…I’m over here single as fuck, in my pajamas and glasses, with a drunk ballerina knot on my head, still wondering how a mortgage works. Shamefully, it also includes a slew of judgmental thoughts and dismissive comments that either make fun of or question the couple’s resolve. I know that I am not alone in this, as I’ve heard many people in my age group complain about it or comment on how bizarre they find it to be.

What if we were to pump the brakes on that thought process for a second?

Continue reading “Marriage in Our Twenties: A Realization”