What does it mean to settle?

Recently I was talking to a friend about the concept of settling when it comes to love, relationships, even possibly marriage. What followed was an interesting conversation about what does  settling mean in the context of life and love?

For many of us, our twenties are a time when we are wide-eyed about love and hopes for our future. We want a life filled with financial security, stability and regular passionate lovemaking. We want to have a partner who is visually pleasing, physically fit, intelligent, well-read, and pleasant to be around. We want it all.  We want the fairy tale ending, our soul mates. The one person in the world who makes us whole.

What happens if that complete package, the one we have been told to wait for, doesn't arrive? What happens if we meet someone who is not the one but meets some of the criteria, do we settle?

Settling means to accept or agree to something that is less. Settling, in the relationship sense, is to be with someone who may not have all the qualities you are looking for, but rather have enough for you to feel satisfied. I recently read an article from The Atlantic "Mr. Right or Mr. Right Now" which is an account from a woman's perspective talking about when the time is to marry the one you are with, rather than wait for the one you hope for.

I think that this happens more times than we would like to think. Some of us, when we are young, think that we have met THE ONE and find ourselves feeling the need to find stability, so we settle. Or we leave behind those who have many fine qualities in order to wait for "the one" that we feel is still our there. When do we draw the line?

What is important in a partner during our twenties may not be the qualities that we desire long term. I find it ironic that we are often driven by our biological clocks, especially women, with the desire to partner early so that we can have children early. These qualities that we value often change with age, when our biological clocks no longer matter. When we are older, we often examine what we want in a partner, someone who is a companion, someone who makes us laugh, someone who makes us feel deeply, challenge us intellectually, care for us emotionally. Not that these qualities aren't important in the years of our youth, but as we get older, they become more important. Passionate sex, a deep desire of our younger days, at times moves to the back burner, while important, the desire to connect with someone at a deeper level rises to the surface. Physical connection, an important piece of a relationship, is not defined exclusively by the actual act but rather intimacy at a variety of levels. Mental compatibility, as well as a deep emotional connection, becomes a priority in a partner. Physical attributes, although a desired trait, often becomes less and less important as years go by.

What does this all mean in the great scope of life? There truly are no answers but rather questions to ask oneself. What do you want in one to share your life with? What does a partner mean to you? When is the time to settle, when is the time to ask for more?

Sometimes we, as humans, struggle to define what we want and need in our lives. The deep desire for happiness and stability can counteract what we need to find peace in our soul. This creates a kind of disequilibrium in our ability to define and decide what we want and need. As time passes, many will find themselves asking, "Did we choose well?" To be able to answer this question, we must deeply examine what our hopes and dreams are for the life ahead.

Each of us must examine our deepest desire for the direction of our lives. What do we want to accomplish, what type of partner allows us to do these things? For many, life is a growth process where we stretch and expand our wants and desires. To fully grow, we must be fed intellectually, spiritually, emotionally. Like a flower devoid of nutrients and sun, without these we begin to wither and die. We have one life to become the person we want to be, make our impact...we must grasp for the brass ring and create this within ourselves. Settling for less is like breathing stagnant air, it limits our abilities to fully become all we are to be.

Settling is a concept that is viewed from a variety of angles. Some perceive it as a negative, while others see it as a way to build a life that is adequate. Each of us must look deeply within ourselves to decide what our future holds. We must create a life filled with passion and the deepest regard for ourselves. We must only settle for the life we deserve.


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