The Settling Game: When You Second Guess Your Requirements


Every girl has a list of qualities, personality traits and physical must haves that they actively look for when dating. Some women have short list; there are a few main things that a man must have when stepping to her, but her list is flexible. Some women have a list a mile long: their list is detailed and ranges from “must wear sock with his Nike slides” to “must have facial hair”. And then there are people like me, who are somewhere in between who have a somewhat flexible list but also have some pretty specific qualities that either deal breakers or dealmakers. All three of these types of daters are doing the same thing; trying to avoid settling. But what happens when your list causes you to miss out on a good guy? What happens when you’re so specific that you rule out good men before you really give them a chance? There was a guy that I dated in college named Chris*. He was the ultimate good guy and probably would meet a lot of women’s dating criteria. When we dated in college, he was honest, funny, hardworking and incredibly smart.  He was in a Christian fraternity, held a high GPA, made extra money making mixed CD’s and selling them on campus and he was widely known on campus because of his friendly and outgoing personality. The problem was that he was a little square for my taste. He was the classic take-home-to-meet-moms type and I just wasn’t in that place in my life during my freshman year of college. Needless to say, we ended things right before summer break and I ended up not returning to school the following year.

Fast forward ten years and Chris and I had found each other through social media. I had always wondered “what if” when it came to him, so when I found out he was moving to the same city I was in, I slid in his DM’s and arranged for us to hang out. I was over “my type” of guys. I had been on a cute, well-dressed, asshole streak and I was more than ready to break the cycle. I had enough heartache and drama to last me a lifetime and with year thirty quickly approaching, I needed to rid myself of my bad habits when it came to dating. Chris was the perfect person to change the way that I dated…or was he?

We talked over social media for a while and finally agreed to meet up for dinner. Our date was cool. We laughed, talked about college and what we had been up to since and had some pretty decent food and drinks. It wasn’t anything to write home about but there wasn’t anything bad about it either. After talking through text and over the phone for the next week, we decided to link up again. Now this is where things got tricky. I found myself somewhere between annoyed and uninterested every time I saw his name pop up on my phone. Instead of that new bae excitement you’re supposed to feel when starting to date, I felt a little bit of dread. And it wasn’t because he was doing anything wrong. He made sure to send me good morning texts, he liked all my posts on Instagram, he asked about my day and he actually picked up the phone to call instead of using social media or text to avoid a real connection. But I wasn’t feeling it. I was missing something.

I confided in my friends about my feelings about dating Chris and got a few different reactions. Some of my friends thought it was funny but that if I was feeling this way about him so early in the game, I should probably cut things short. Some felt that Chris, on paper, seemed like a good catch and that I was riding a wave of crazy if I let him go without giving him a real shot. Their opinions left me even more confused so I reached out to the holy grail of advice: Mom. After giving her the rundown, she explained that it’s not always about what we want but what the other person gives. That through her experience, sometimes it’s better to be loved than to love and the notion on this romantic, fairytale, head over heels love that maybe I was looking for, wasn’t necessarily what was going to happen in real life. That maybe I needed fall a few clouds down from La-La land and come to terms with the fact that the guy that I was looking for (a good guy with a bad boy edge who is educated, well dressed, funny like a comedian and smart like a MIT graduate, who likes to travel and paint/draw/write/film) may not exist. All in all, she thought Chris was way too good of a candidate for son-in-law and that I needed to see it through. After all, I could grow to love him, right?

Chris and I went out two more times and while he was fun and somewhat entertaining, I still found myself avoiding his calls or cutting them short, finding an excuse not to link up or complaining too much about how “corny” he was. There was just no romantic connection there and I couldn’t pretend that there was or ever would be. Instead of dragging it out any further, I let Chris know that we would probably be better as friends and kept it moving. Shortly after that, I fell back into my dating rut and it made me question my decision to let Chris go. Was I crazy for letting him get away? This thing, that spark, that umph, that I was looking for, that Chris obviously didn’t have, was it worth passing up all of the other things that he brought to the table? Was I going to end up a 45 year old bachelorette because I was looking for this nameless trait? Did I need to readjust my list and get over finding “it” and just be ok with having a good man I could grow to love?

We all make these lists for a reason. For some, it’s to avoid dating the same type of men that have hurt us in the past. Sometimes the list helps us find a guy that is like someone we love dearly, like our father or grandfather.  But for the most part, the main reason is the same for all of us. It’s to avoid settling, whatever “settling” means to you. To me, it means that I lose a piece of my happiness in the process. After dating Chris, no matter how many boxes he checked on my list, what he was missing was going to cost me a piece of my happiness and that’s what took him out of the running. People probably think that I’m crazy and deserve to be single for believing that I could do better than Chris, but I will not settle. That thing that I’m looking for is inside of my soulmate and I’ll know it when I feel it. It’s something that you can’t force and you can’t create. It’s just there. I refuse to settle for anything less than what I want, and you should too.