When I last talked about compromising versus settling, I mentioned the benefits of having a List. A flexible List used as a guideline rather than a rigid rule is a good thing in my books, especially if you tend to get carried away by your feelings early in the relationship. When a relationship ends, you can usually see those red flags you initially overlooked so clearly!
My colleagues pointed out that maybe I should elaborate on my definitions of compromise and settling from what I shared in Part 1. A friend shared her definition with me: you compromise on things and settle for a person—I agree, but I think you can also settle for things. Lady Ngo mentioned in the comments of the last post that to her, compromise requires contributions from all involved, whereas settling is uneven with respect to contributions—it’s possible for someone to think you’re perfect, leaving you to feel like you have to make some compromises to make things work on your end.
You get most of what you want, and some of what you don’t want, but you can live with that and you feel happy or content overall.
You get just a little of what you want or a lot of what you don’t want, and if you’re honest you feel dissatisfied or unhappy about it.
This is what I meant in Part 1: a large part of whether you’re compromising or settling is how you feel about it.
Mindset is key
Most successful people talk about the importance of mindset—what you tell yourself on the journey to success is important. So if you’re trying to lose 100 pounds, you can’t tell yourself that you’ve failed at diets before, or that you’re not a runner, or that you’ve got big bones and therefore can’t lose weight. Nope, you have to constantly tell yourself that you will lose the weight, that you are built to be fit, that you can be 100 pounds lighter. The negative or defeating thoughts will come back again and again but you have to shut them up, sometimes audibly. It sounds weird at first but it actually works—you’ll stop giving yourself so many negative pep talks over time if you become good at shutting them up.
So how does mindset relate to compromising versus settling? Well, how you feel about it is really about your mindset, and unfortunately we can talk ourselves into or out of anything. If you’re incredibly clear about what’s important to you, it’ll be harder for you to be fooled by someone who’s charming yet waving one of your red flags in your face. Or more realistically, even if you are initially swayed, you’ll be able to get back to reality more quickly if you know what’s important to you. You won’t have to wait to be dumped before you realize it—you’ll know something isn’t right and work to resolve it and end things if needed. When you’re settling, a part of you always knows, but you kind of smother it.Having a mindset based on what’s important will prevent you from settling rather than compromising, and having a realistic idea of what you want or don’t want in a man or woman is how you keep that mindset.
Let’s say you meet someone who uses a lot swear words in regular conversation than you consider appropriate. Let’s say you don’t like to use swear words, but it doesn’t bother you if others do—you’ll just shrug it off and maybe consider dating someone who swears a lot as a compromise. But if a part of you cringes inwardly when you hear an expletive, and if it would make you feel awful or uncomfortable to be around others while your date is swearing left and right, that may be a sign that you’d be settling if you decide to overlook it, because the feeling may never go away.
Refine your List often
Lists should be personal but I wouldn’t mind sharing mine with people who know me well and have my best interests at heart. Sure they can’t tell me if what I think is important is actually important, but they have a different know me in ways that I don’t know myself, and I think they could give me good food for thought.
Nowadays my List will be short because I don’t have so many non-negotiables. As I’m getting older, I’m paying more attention to what is really needed for a relationship to work, and I’ve realized that maybe sharing the same nationality isn’t as important as I’ve always considered it to be (for some, this might be considered settling!). I’m liking the idea of making your List as short as possible, focusing on things that you won’t settle for, but with a section for things that you’d be willing to compromise on. If your List is flexible on the elements that aren’t so important, but strict on the parts that are truly crucial, you’ll end up with someone that you won’t feel like you’ve settled for.
In the end it’ll come down to this: if you think you settled you did; if you think you compromised and got a prize you did. It’s all in your mind, but make sure your mind is on the right track by thinking carefully about what is and isn’t important in a significant other.