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?