- You are being too picky if you rule out people as partners simply due to superficial, surmountable things.
- No partner or situation will be perfect. You'll have to settle for some differences from your absolute ideal.
- Some things, however, are non-negotiable; they're fundamental to a lasting relationship.
Having to settle doesn't sound very romantic. After all, the Beatles did not sing “All Your Need Is to Settle,” and Whitney Houston did not belt out, "I Will Always Settle for You.” And your partner may not take it too well if you say, "Honey, congratulations, I've decided to settle for you."
But you may find yourself struggling with the whole unsettling idea of having to settle in love if you are choosing among potential partners you are not so sure about. In this case, "settle" means that you are in some way accepting less than what you really want or feel that you deserve in a romantic partner.
Of course, a big question is whether you are being too picky. The answer may be yes if you are ruling out people as partners simply due to superficial surmountable things such as their appearance, race/ethnicity, hobbies, career, or geographic location. Naturally, no partner/situation will be perfect, so you'll have to settle for some differences from your absolute ideal. But here are 10 things that really should be non-negotiable:
1. Someone who doesn't respect you.
Don't accept a situation in which the other person does not respect you, your opinions, or your efforts. If you want to be disrespected, there are plenty of people outside of a romantic relationship who can do that to you.
2. Someone whom you don't respect.
Similarly, if you don't respect your partner, be respectful enough to end the relationship and free the person to find someone else.
3. Someone whose personality is fundamentally incompatible with yours.
Think about the "mosts" regarding both of your personalities and whether they are fundamentally incompatible: What is most important to each of you about both of your personalities, what is most difficult, and what is most quirky? On the flip side, if you have an unusual personality and have found someone who actually matches your personality and appreciates it, then you may have found a needle-in-a-haystack keeper.
4. Someone who really doesn't understand you.
Not being understood can make you feel like you've landed on another planet: very lonely, very alienating. Of course, you do have to help your partner get to know you and not assume that your partner has ESP or can simply Google you. But if you've already tried to convey who you are and your partner still doesn't really understand you or, even worse, doesn't seem to be making the effort to get to know you better, it may be time to take your rocket and go elsewhere.
5. Someone who doesn't make the effort.
Speaking of effort, a significant other can have the best abs, the best mullet, the best fashion sense, the best hobbies, and even the best personality, but if that partner ain't going to make the effort to make the relationship work, why bother?
6. Someone who is not fully available.
For a relationship to work, that person actually has to be available to you, which means that the person can't be already married, secretly pine for someone else past or present, or be addicted to something like drugs.
7. Someone whom you do not trust.
"I will make sure that he or she won't cheat on me," is not a good way to start a relationship. Having to be wary and on the lookout all the time is exhausting. Sure, it may bring some sexual tension and intrigue. But in the long run, a relationship is supposed to bring comfort, not anxiety.
8. Someone with whom you cannot fully and honestly communicate.
"We can't really talk to each other, but otherwise the marriage is great" is something that you don't often hear. Open and clear communication is fundamental to any healthy relationship and the first step to working through any problems.
9. Someone who can't be your go-to person and vice-versa.
I was once in a relationship with a woman whose first go-to person was a male best friend whenever she felt very happy or very sad about something. When she expressed strong interest in marrying me, I felt like asking, "Will I be invited to the wedding or will your friend be representing me?" Sure, you can't possibly be everything to your partner or vice-versa. Sure, you will still want friends, family, and others to be important parts of your life. But it doesn't bode well when your inclination is to go to someone else besides your partner whenever you want to share something really exciting or really challenging in your life.
10. Someone with whom you don't feel any strong connection.
A marriage isn't like IKEA furniture. You can't just take the pieces and methodically assemble them because they look like they should fit together. Ultimately, the two of you have to have a strong natural connection that can withstand all that life has to throw at you. Such a connection may not be immediately present; strong connections do take time to develop. But at some point, after trying for a while, you can kind of tell when that very strong connection is never really going to happen. And by strong connection, I don't mean being handcuffed together or simply some other type of physical or sexual connection. I mean a combination of emotional and intellectual connection because the two of you will have to go through a lot in life together and you can't bring along your bed all the time.
That should settle it. If any of the above are present then move on, as this person is not the one.
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