This Is What Happened When I Didn’t Settle For Love That Was Less Than I Deserved

Killian Pham

I almost did settle for the love I thought I deserved. I almost said yes to a secret relationship. We only met when and where he wanted. Our time together always ended with his schedule. I kept my weekends open in case he might have a chance to meet. I almost settled for someone who always spoke of becoming a better man, of creating a new life, of not repeating past mistakes. And his past had some serious, legal-related mistakes.

But I would have settled anyway. He was a sensuous Spaniard, and I was enamored! He was the man I had hoped would show up when I moved to Madrid from Ft. Lauderdale. He was the tough hands and sun-reflecting sunglasses that waited for me outside his metro stop. I was already in love with his city, so why not fall for him too. He was fun. Too much fun. Yet we hardly ever laughed together. His humor was dark and I found it somber. My humor was silly and he found it corny.

I am glad for the love I thought I deserved. He was not a bad man. He was just not the man for me. I let him go after I was spent. I gave the relationship my all, and there was nothing else to do but go. And GO I did. To the north of Spain, to be exact. Five hours away on a bus. He said my unplugging was immature. I thought it was liberating!

This is what happened when I didn’t settle for the love I thought I deserved:

I BECAME PEACEFUL.

I unplugged from all social media and exited WhatsApp groups he was a part of. I swam in the cold Cantabrian Sea. I immersed myself in nature while I worked in a summer camp, and even after that I went hiking for a whole week. I cut ties from all the things related to him, not to create conflict, but to release myself from this relationship. Peace came when I went cold-turkey on my unhealthy attachment to “making it work.” It was not supposed to work.

I EXPLORED THE WORLD AROUND ME.

I drank beer with people I would not have been friends with before. I surfed. I started eating spicy. I swam in a really cold river that made my legs go a little numb. I started getting into yoga.

I GAINED CONFIDENCE.

It took a lot for me to walk away from this relationship. It took self-trust, and self-love that I did not have when I was with him. It made me feel self-sufficient, independent, fierce and fearless. I saved myself. The relationship had ended months prior and I was still dangling to false hope that he would return to me as this magnificent, tailor-made partner. From the morning I chose to no longer dangle, I became my own source of love and strength.

I FELT COMFORTABLE.

The rock was out of my shoe. I knew this would not shape my view of love and future relationships. Perhaps I let him break my heart, but I would not let him break my perspective. I began to feel comfortable as a woman. I became comfortable hanging out around men and being their friend. I became comfortable not just in my whole mind and body. I embraced my way of thinking, my sexuality, my freedom, and my own skin.

I MET NEW LOVE.

I became friends with a man that was funny and thought I was funny, too! We loved reading, writing, surfing, kayaking, and wine. This friend and I enjoyed eating food more than relationships…So it was love. But I did not try to hold on to this one, not after my recent past! We gave each other space to go our separate ways. Until…with time…we realized we were still together. No one felt tied to the other, no one made rules, and we were not secretive.

After a moment of doubt I accepted whatever crazy reason this man and I crossed paths and decided to walk together. I welcomed his tenderness and existential questions. I embraced the way he got my morning coffee and baked vegetables for dinner. I said yes to starting a life together and joined him in making up whatever story we want to create. And the story took us from Spain to Mexico, where we currently reside.

I don’t know that we can say what kind of love we deserve. But I know whatever love we get does not have to be the love we are supposed to “fight for.” There’s actually hardly any fighting in love. There’s just love. I don’t know why I tried to force myself to settle in a relationship that was not for me. There is no settling in love. There’s no working on it, or waiting for it. You’ll find that things move forward naturally, and you won’t constantly be waiting for him to call, to text, to introduce you to his parents, to ask you out on dates. You can create the kind of love you deserve by becoming all the things you want from someone.

Walking away from the love I thought I deserved allowed me to recreate myself as a woman, which led to the creation of brand new love. The love in my current relationship blossomed from within. As I became confident, adventurous and peaceful, I found a man who was in tune with all those qualities. Before him, I lacked self-trust and confidence. I lacked empowerment. So I fell for someone that left me feeling powerless. What I really want you to know is that you don’t have to settle for love. You can create it from the inside out. TC mark

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