Don't Settle

Don’t Settle For What Doesn’t Make You Happy

Why do we do it? We meet someone, we are semi-interested, we exchange info. We go out a couple times. We’re still very “meh” about the whole thing. Yeah, he’s alright, we think. And he does everything right. He calls and texts (but not too much), he does sweet things to let you know he’s into you, he makes and keeps future dates, he opens up. So you let down your guard, you open up, too. And you admit to yourself that you like him. Maybe this time is different?

And then it happens. His calls and texts get shorter and more sporadic. You feel like you’re the one always initiating. And thus begins The Doubt Game. You question everything. Is he not texting as much because he’s more comfortable with me and doesn’t feel the need to, or has he lost interest? Should I call him, or should I wait for him to call me? I’ll wait. That will show me that he’s into me. But it’s been a two days. Maybe he’s doing the same thing, waiting for me to call him. Should I call? Oh god. I’ve gone insane.

You date. It’s been a few months. But it’s not the same. He’s more comfortable with you, yes, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. He’s cancelled or postponed plans a few times because of A, B, C reason. They are all legitimate and understandable reasons. Work. A friend needs him to do something.

He’s just not feeling good. You understand. You accommodate. Because you are understanding and accommodating. You really don’t mind. Isn’t that what a good girlfriend does? Be supportive? Laid back?

No pressure here! Whatever, it’s cool!

But how much is too much? That’s the question.

Relationships are hard, people say. Yes, every individual is different, with different needs and timetables. But I say fuck that. Relationships shouldn’t be that hard.

You are a square peg. He is a round hole. Why are you trying to make your lives fit when they are different shapes?

If a guy likes you, he will go out of his way to show you. If a guy wants to keep you, he will go out of his way to keep you. If other things are a priority in his life other than you, then he won’t. And you will want to accommodate his schedule, his moods, his whims to stay in his life. You’ll call this “being understanding.” You’ll think it’s timing, that soon enough he’ll “grow” or “wake up” or finally realize how wonderful you are, that you’re the one who has always been there through thick and thin. Newsflash, ladies. He most probably won’t. This isn’t Julia Roberts’ latest rom-com. It’s real life. And if he has gotten used to your accommodating him, he also unfortunately has lost some respect for you. Who wants a spineless woman who bends to your every need?

I know someone who is soon marrying his girlfriend of eight years. He admits that he loves her, but isn’t in love with her. He says that they are very different, that they don’t have much to talk about as friends, that they bicker and fight. But time has built commitment, families know each other, and they are used to life with each other now. I said that sounds very sad to me. He said, “It’s not so bad. I pretty much do what I want.” He goes out with friends, drinks and smokes weed, hasn’t really changed anything for her and she has just learned to deal with it. Well I guess that’s good, I tried. “It is and it isn’t,” he said. “Because on one hand, yeah, I do what I want, but on another…” He paused for a long time before he started again, “I never learned to love anyone more than myself.”

That stuck with me. I always thought that self-absorbed guys with overly-accommodating girlfriends are sort of oblivious to their actions. But this guy wasn’t. He knew. He slowly lost respect for his girlfriend over the years. She never put her foot down and said, “DUDE. WTF. If you want me in your life you can’t do that. PERIOD.” So thus the tone was set and forever followed. They never fit. They just learned how to exist. And now they are getting married! Hooray! And they will probably have children, and continue to bicker. They may live a long and relatively happy life together. They’ve learned how to be with each other in their own way. But I doubt as teenagers they dreamed of this. They are not friends. And that is not something that I want for my life. And I doubt it is the type of relationship that you want for yours.

I realized this a while ago. I had a habit of reading people very well and sort of becoming what I thought they wanted me to be. Which was myself, in a way, but not completely. It was a dating game, a strategy. I think to a certain extent, everyone does this. Both men and women. Put your best foot forward. And then after you’ve gotten more serious, more comfortable, you relax a bit. I had a boyfriend actually say to me after about three months of dating, “Well we don’t need to really go out anymore since we’re boyfriend-girlfriend now.” What? No more going out on dates? Um. No. That’s not how I want to spend my life. I like doing stuff, duh, be it with a boyfriend or friends. Why would I want to stop just because we’re serious? That’s when the fun stuff should really start.

So, I tried something new. Something so simple that it was revolutionary. Be yourself. Yes, everyone says this, but I don’t think we ever really get it. Be who you are. State exactly what you want. If a guy does something uncool, tell him, Hey, that was uncool. I don’t like that. If he gets mad and turns it around on you, then ick. That’s not someone you want to be with! If he says, “I hear you on that; won’t happen again,” then wow, he respects you and cares enough to try to keep you in his life.

It’s so simple and obvious, but I think it’s so hard because we really, really want it to work. We want to will it so. So we make excuses for them (See: “Oh, he is just really tired and has been really stressed lately,” “Well he usually isn’t like this, it’s just he’s going through something hard right now,” etc.) and hold on to every shred of good that they give us. If they do ten things wrong but one thing right we grab on to that one thing. Actions speak louder than words, but we choose to believe the words even when they don’t match the actions. We lie to ourselves, to our friends. We want it so bad, we think if we’re just good enough, understanding enough, sexy enough, giving enough, they’ll want us.

Fuck. That. Noise.

Enough. We’ve all tried it. We all know people who have tried it. Multiple times. How many times has it worked? Think about it. How many people do you know who have waited and waited, accommodated, curved their bodies to fit their bow, and Tah-Dah! They ended up living happily ever after? I don’t mean ended up together, ended up married, because like the guy I described above, they don’t fit my definition of happy. So how many?

It just doesn’t work. Thought Catalog Logo Mark