Compromising or settling – Part 1

My friend and colleague Wendy tossed a question to me a couple of weeks ago. She wanted to know if I thought there was a difference between compromising and settling in relationships. Compromise has such a positive connotation: if you’re unwilling to compromise you’re considered stubborn. But settling? Well, we all breathe a sigh of pity for those who settle, don’t we? Oh, Kemi? Yeah, she settled with Wale. I guess she got desperate—you know she’s almost 40 right?

I thought about Wendy’s question for a moment, and my reply to her (via text) was “The difference between compromise and settling is how YOU feel about it. Lol what I may consider a compromise you might see as settling…this should be blogged!” And here we are.

The List—setting the bar

The only way I will follow my heart these days is if my head has given my heart permission, meaning the important things have been checked before I fall (because I fall hard). This is why I like the List. The List gets a bad reputation but I’ve never met a person who didn’t have standards regarding who they wanted to date or marry (or even sleep with if we’re honest).

Even if you’ve never thought about it or written it down, you have expectations or requirements of the kind of person you’d like to have a relationship, or even a friendship, with. If someone tells you they don’t have a List, just suggest someone to them as a potential partner and if they if they agree or not, ask why: that’ll tell you something about what they value. I’m a big fan of documenting your requirements because it’s a good way to remind yourself of what you value and expect in a relationship, especially when you find yourself getting emotionally involved with someone you don’t know too well. The List is a way to take a step back and evaluate if you’ve got enough (aside from the sizzling physical connection!) to continue. So a list is a must. For me.

My List (which I need to put together) won’t include non-negotiables because with God’s help, I don’t fall for someone with those qualities. I only have a few non-negotiables: he must have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, he cannot be a drug user (including cigarette smoking), and he cannot be an alcoholic. Things like “liar”, “cheater”, “thief”, “abuser”, or “murderer” aren’t on my list because I assume we agree that these are not cool or acceptable for anyone (maybe I’m being naive!).

Anyway, my List will have two sections, one for important qualities that are almost but not quite non-negotiables, and one for “icing on the cake”, which are qualities that would be nice to have. Once I have those lists ready, I’ll ask a trusted friend and my sister to review them, to make sure that what I considered important isn’t actually icing (sometimes we’re too close to our List to be objective).

Just to be clear: you could deviate from your List completely if you wanted to, but something tells me that if your list and your chosen person have nothing in common, something is wrong with the List. I see the List as a reminder of what you value, when you may not be able to make an objective decision (my emotions have gotten the best of me in the past and I want to learn from that). Also, I believe physical appearance is icing because the non-physical characteristics you want may come in a different package than you expected. Chemistry is important but I believe it can grow, as long as you genuinely like the person (maybe it can even grow if you detest the person at first, but I’d rather not take that risk!).

In the next half of this post I’ll talk about the importance of your mindset in determining whether you’re settling or compromising.

What do you think about the List? Useful or waste of time?

13 thoughts on “Compromising or settling – Part 1

  1. Lists can be useful, but I think your “nice to have/icing on the cake” section should be longer than your “almost non-negotiables” list. Otherwise, you’ll just sound too picky (or like a 20 year old – young girls (and boys, too) tend to have very fantasy-like lists – including me!). Besides, I think the right person can come any time, and often from places that you might not think of (or even match many of the items on your “list”). Live life and just don’t worry or think about it. Get a membership at a gallery or museum, go to their events (not all of them are family focused or target older people), go to networking parties, volunteer, etc… Meet people. Have fun. Even if the organization you’re with is predominantly women, they might know people who’re looking for someone.

    • I agree with you that the “almost non-negotiables” list should not be very long at all. I didn’t want to put a number on it but I’d only have a handful. The goal is not to have this crazy List that no one can measure up to—this is why lists have a bad reputation in the first place!

  2. I think you should “toss” the list. Let me explain: I don’t mean just date anybody, but whenever you have to run someone by a list, dating becomes programming. I have a friend that does that, and almost nobody ever meets the list.
    When I meet someone, within the first one or two encounters I know if the person appears “normal”, just from the sort of conversations you would have with normal people, the rest is a discovery. Someone might meet your list but possess other undesirable qualities not on your list, and another might not meet your list but possess other amazing desirable qualities. One gets screened out

    • I understand what you mean, but that’s only if you’re thinking of the typical List that has dozens of points on it, is super specific and inflexible. This is not at all what I have in mind, though I know people can be very nuts about their List so I appreciate you mentioning this in case some of those people are reading and thinking that’s what I meant.

      My point is even when you’re meeting someone during those few encounters, your judgment of them as normal or not is based on your idea of what is normal or not, which is based on your (perhaps unconscious) List. I think the idea of a List just had a bad rep lol

      A List can help you narrow your options a bit, but not so much that it would be seen as a huge screening process. I love that you mentioned that someone can meet your List but have other undesirable qualities—and vice versa—so true! The List should definitely be a guide, not a policy.

  3. I think another difference between compromise and settling is that with compromise, both (or however many) parties are supposed to contributing. Its not a compromise if you are the only one giving something up. Not in my opinion at least.

    As for the list, i don’t think there is such a thing as objective. These are things that you want/don’t want. An outside party can’t and shouldn’t tell you whats important to you. Only you can know whats really a dealbreaker or not.

    In general i think making a list is good for knowing what you want/need/expect, but i don’t think it should be used as a tally or score keeper with each person you date. What i’ve come to learn is that when the right person comes along, half the list tends to flight out of the window anyway lol.

    • Good point, Lady Ngo—with compromise it should feel like a win-win.

      Let me give you an example about the objective point: you’re right that we want what we want but sometimes someone who knows you really well can remind you that even though you put “must be over 6 feet tall” as important, it’s really more of the “icing” because all the guys you dated were under 6 feet tall and it was never a factor in why you ended things with them. It’s a bit simplistic of an example but hopefully it makes sense (or maybe I’m the only one who sometimes needs a reality check!).

      lol…gbam with your final sentence! The part that flies out is the “icing” part of the list I bet, not the superimportant things! ;)

  4. lol @ Things like “liar”, “cheater”, “thief”, “abuser”, or “murderer” aren’t on my list because I assume we agree that these are not cool or acceptable for anyone (maybe I’m being naive!).

    haha pls let them be on the list ooo…:D

    i think a list is cool especially the can’t stand..so u don’t waste your time.

    • God forbid! lol…good thing I ask a lot of questions so I guess I’ll find out any undesirable info sooner rather than later. Thanks for commenting dear! xo

  5. I like what you said about the heart and the head. I have a saying along those lines as well: “Follow your heart, but use your head!”
    Maybe I my expect too much from people, but I think it is so sad that “not a drug user/dealer” has to actually get put down on a list. Sad, but neccesary. Nice post

    • Thanks for reading and commenting, AWF :)

      I’m hoping I can leave such things off the list but this world we’re in…God helps us!

  6. *Clears throat* You have smart people here, Jummy! So I’ll go straight to my points:

    1) “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (I Samuel 16:7)

    My Take: Swag ain’t gonna feed you. Lol

    2) “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.” (Habakkuk 2:2-3)

    My take: All hail the list! Thou art welcome!

    3) “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” (Jeremiah 17:9 NLT)

    My take: Hmm don’t trust the heart o.

    4) “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

    My take: Now will He give you what you despise, someone unlovable?

    5) “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

    My Take: Just trust Him

    6) “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.” (Psalm 32:8)

    My Take: Meet your #1 singlehood counselor!

    7) “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)

    My take: My dear, just rest and let Him do all the hard work.

    Sorry for the epistle, Jummy. I just couldn’t resist it :P

  7. I agree with you completely! I have my non-negotiables (which are few, really), and I’m sticking to them no matter what anyone says! Some people have tried to make me think that my non-negotiables are really negotiable, and I’m not buying it. I know what I need in a relationship and in a marriage.Think about it like this: A quality is truly non-negotiable for you when you can’t stand the thought of being with someone without that quality. When the idea of it just makes you so sad. haha! Only you and God know best what’s in your heart. Family may even try to sway you out of your non-negotiable list, but YOU are the one who is going to potentially marry this person. YOU are the one who will have to live with them. YOU are the one who will have to build a family with the individual.

    I think “settling” is when you decide to toss one of the non-negotiables aside just for the sake of being with someone. For example, I’d prefer a man who was at least 5’10’. If I ended up with a man who was 5’7″, but he had all the non-negotiable qualities, that is not settling. lol. That is compromising. It is necessary to focus on what’s is REALLY important here. Religion is a legitimate non-negotiable, but superficial things (height, skin tone, etc.), are not.

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