What’s so Wrong With Settling Anyway?
When the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock, they put a stake in the ground and said, “This is where we’ll settle.” Nobody questioned it. No one said, “let’s keep going until we hit the beach and the women are prettier and the weather is 75 degrees all year long. Everyone just followed suit and started their new life. True enough, there wasn’t as much else to do in those days but you get my point.
Today, the inevitable question that we (women) ask ourselves in any relationship is, “Am I settling” (for less)? Somewhere in our ambitious lives, we got the idea that the person we end up with has to be nothing short of a superhero with a nice car, a substantial amount of disposable income and great sex (of course). But if one of those things is missing, does that mean you’ve settled? And even if you did decide to settle, is that necessarily a bad thing? It seemed to work for the Pilgrims. Why can’t we settle and see what grows?
In our lifetime, we (women) will undoubtedly date a lot more men than our mother’s did. Yet, in the same way our mothers did, we will be expected to settle down with one man and start a family. This is the scariest part of settlement, the part where we agree to stay in one place with one person for the rest of our lives. This is what we are really running from when we use the excuse, “I don’t want to settle.” What we’re actually saying is; I don’t want to reach my ultimate conclusion because that would mean I’d actually have to make up my mind (the cosmic crutch of most women).
So, you’re not dating a Superhero. Isn’t that always going to be the case? I mean, haven’t you dated the rich guy with no soul? Or, the soulful guy with no riches? Haven’t you already dated “great sex guy” who couldn’t carry on conversations outside of Sony PlayStation? Haven’t you dated “nice car guy” who only drove you to drink? I could go on (fancy vacation guy, ridiculous 40-something guy trying to be 20-something guy, …I digress).
I’m just saying, find a happy middle ground with a man and see where it goes. Instead of Mr. Big, how about Mr. Medium? Stop worrying about settling and focus on the awesome gift of companionship. Settling doesn’t mean the end of your life. It means taking a stand in your life and letting that marinate for a little bit. It means a new direction and a way to find out what you (and possibly the man in your life) are made of.
Needs Vs. Neediness
We all have needs. Most women love being in relationships because relationships fulfill our basic need for companionship. We love the feeling of security derived from not having to pick out a new outfit for every date. Above all, we love the “we” factor and having the assumed plus one with us wherever we go. However, sometimes we get so consumed with our relationships that we fail to see where we’ve compromised our independence. Independence, I might add, that made us appealing and sexy in the first place. As an outsider looking in, I often find it necessary to unpeel my gal pals from the respective men in their lives to point out the fatal flaw that will doom even the most stable of relationships, NEEDINESS.
Neediness is a silent killer that only gets worse as a relationship progresses. Often times it sneaks up on you so subtly that you don’t even realize you’ve become a NEEDY woman. There are several signs that can clue you in on the fact that you’ve morphed into a slab of Velcro.
Should I Syndrome: The “Should I Syndrome” occurs in women who constantly seek approval from their boyfriends at every turn. “Should I wear this dress,” “Should I cut my hair,” (etc., etc., etc.)? Honestly, it annoys your girlfriends when you do this so you can only imagine the perilous state of mind that it puts your boyfriend in. Did you not have one single, solitary thought of your own prior to being in a relationship? Did you trade in your ability to make decisions for a lifetime supply of Victoria’s Secret catalogs? You were your own person before a man stepped into your life, weren’t you? Keep your super powers in tact and be the woman that didn’t need approval to wear short skirts or rock vampire blood nail polish.
Girls Night Gone Bye-Bye: The worst thing a woman can do in a new relationship is throw her girlfriends overboard. It’s a common mistake that usually lasts about a month and a half (give or take a few weeks). We expect our friends to engorge themselves on bliss in the midst of their newly formed love nests. However, when you fail to regain some semblance of your former self, it really will take a toll on your relationship. The added pressure on your man to be your only source of entertainment is a flat out turn off. Keep your happy hours, your ladies nights and any other regiments that you enjoyed pre-boyfriend. It conveys a sense of balance to your partner and appreciation to your base (yunno, the gals who love you).
PDA Over-Kill: Public Displays of Affection are wonderful (in moderation). If you’ve become the girl that must hold hands and follow her man around at every party, like an inextricable pair of Siamese twins, it’s time to count to ten. Seriously, don’t be that girl. Ironically, the only thing you’ll manage to accomplish is alienation. Your man will feel suffocated and your behavior will be perceived as creepy. Socialize and mingle amongst yourself when you head out into the world with your man. That’s why you went out to begin with, isn’t’ it? Don’t follow him around with stalker eyes. Don’t hug and kiss him every time he stops to talk to someone of the opposite sex. Be cool, enjoy yourself and know that your confidence is really quite intriguing to everyone including your significant other. Work the room! Besides, if nothing else, avoiding your man at a party can be an amazing source of foreplay for later.
If your needs are being met at the basic level, why compromise the dynamic of your relationship with needy behavior? Some guys think it’s cute but most guys find it annoying. Keep a fair share of mystery about yourself. It may seem like game playing but you’ll find that keeping an element of sport involved keeps the relationship fresh. Otherwise, date night becomes generic and romance becomes a challenge. Adopt the perspective that your man is supposed to complement your life, not become your life.
Falling In Love With Potential…
Sure, he’s a wonderful, sweet guy and full of ambition. But, could you love him if he never reached his potential? If the man you’re dating today never morphs into the man you’re hoping he’ll be tomorrow and you’re okay this, then you are truly in it for the long haul. As the saying goes, “you only know what people tell you.” Clearly, what a man tells you is what you want to believe, especially when everything is new. But, if you’re banking in HIS maturity, wealth or evolution to complete the portrait of success you’ve created in YOUR mind, you may want to re-evaluate.
Getting caught up in HIS plans for the future is easy but how caught up is HE in HIS plans for the future? If he works for UPS and tells you he’s going to be doctor, is he at least enrolled in medical school? If not, there are probably dozens of good reasons as to why he hasn’t executed. Of course, if a year rolls by and he’s still teetering, your take-away should be that his game plan is flimsy. Fast-forward another year, he’s still working for UPS and still isn’t any closer to reaching his goal. Case in point, your boy is probably a career UPS driver. And, there’s absolutely NOTHING wrong with being a UPS driver, except when YOU get caught up in the idea of dating a doctor.
Sharing in each other’s dreams is an awesome way to connect and see if your aspirations are compatible. Making critical life decisions based on what someone SAYS they want to do as opposed to what they are actually doing is just plain stupid (not too mention reckless).
The problem with expectations is that there’s bound to be some disappointments. Granted, the world is full of talented people but what separates the talented from the successful is the ability to commit to the end game. In general, women LOVE sticking it out in relationships. We gamble with our time and our life goals for the possibility of “relationshipping” with someone who has the potential for greatness. If we committed to falling in love with our own potential (instead of someone else’s), then we would only attract men who were already operating in their highest self because YOU would be operating in yours.
What’s the Rush?
Engage the Sixth Sense…
Dating as far back as 1760, the famous philosopher Immanuel Kant proposed the idea that our physical perceptions (sight, sound, taste, smell and touch) dictate much of how we view the outside world. Certainly true in the dating world, our encounters with the opposite sex are often predicated upon that very same philosophy. Our sense of sight determines the initial attraction. We exchange numbers. The first point of contact is initiated. Our ears begin to feast on the sound of his voice, leaving us in anticipation for the next call. Before we know it, first date dinner is upon the horizon. We share the taste of good food, the taste of good wine and the taste of a first kiss. Weeks of intermittent dating go by and we find ourselves craving the smell of his sweat-n-cologne laden collared shirt, which you have yet to rip off his body. And inevitably, the final act of touch (I’ll let you fill in the mind-blowing details).
In a perfect dating universe it would all play out just as I described, flawlessly over the course of 1-3 months (give or take a few weeks). Yet, so rarely do we truly engage the people we meet. We skip to the end game. We don’t see them at their worst. Sometimes we don’t even stop to have a good argument. And of course, this leads to the misunderstandings, miscommunications, and misfortune of the good-bye text/call/email/encounter. So what’s missing? Perhaps the art of communication, the sixth sense that brings us so much closer than any other form of physical intimacy. Communication isn’t as primitive as the other senses because it takes time to develop and cultivate. But, we’ve become lazy in our pursuits; a cut to the chase mentality has left us (women) grossly overlooking the details and compromising genuine connections.
Why find out about things that annoy you about this person (to your core) AFTER you’ve already taken the relationship to the last level? When you really take the time to get to know someone you may be pleasantly surprised by the fact that you’re really NOT interested. Sans relationship drama, sans sex, sans the un-pleasantries that accompany “the process,” you may find that you simply don’t share the same values.
Inversely, when you do engage the sixth sense, you may find that there is much more to a person than you assumed. You may find that you share deeper similarities than merely a love of hip-hop and midnight gelato in Silver Lake. Not that those types of similarities aren’t great too, common ground is key, but those things aren’t necessarily key components to a solid relationship. Don’t confuse the sparks and rainbows that come with sight, sound, taste, smell and touch with the realities that can only be uncovered through good old fashioned communication.
A Lesson in Jealousy…
“Whoever envies another confesses his superiority”
~Samuel Johnson, The Rambler
The biggest lie we (women) tell ourselves is that we don’t have time to “worry” about what the next woman has. We’re so “busy” being independent and successful that we simply can’t fit in time to be jealous (yeah right!). The truth is this; what the next woman has keeps us striving for more of whatever “it” is that you don’t. For some women it’s a better career, a better body, a perfect marriage or all of the above. In Los Angeles there’s nothing we love more than having something that the next woman can’t. However, when we set the bar to someone else’s accomplishments, we don’t realize that we’re actually putting a ceiling on our own capacity to achieve. It’s like owning the fact that the best you can do is be as good as the next person, rather than realizing your individual potential.
The best way to deal with feelings of jealousy is to confront the real issue of lack in your own life. Simply put, you’re not really jealous of your friend’s new car but your friend’s new car further magnifies your own inability to purchase one. To be clear, your inability to purchase a new car has absolutely nothing to do with your friend’s new BMW. It really boils down to the current state of affairs that your life is in versus your friends and your constant comparisons to someone else’s perceived happiness. Even if you attain enough to keep up with the Jones, you’ll find that you still won’t be happy.
Be honest with yourself! Don’t keep telling everyone that you love your dependable, beat up, old car when you really want a brand new one. Stop professing to everyone how much you love your “curves” when you really want to get in shape. And for goodness sake, stop telling people that you love being single if you really want a husband and kids.
When you are honest about the things you want, you can begin to make strides to acquire them. But, when you’re dishonest about the things you want for the sake of camouflaging the holes in your life, resentment begins to seep in and infiltrate your relationships. Some women are masters at hiding their inner resentment but most simply are not. The venom begins to slips out in casual conversations and commentary. Comments like, “oh I was going to get that pair but everyone already has them,” or “yeah that’s a cute bag but I don’t do labels.” As if!
Jealousy and envy are as common as black skirts in the world of LA women. You’ll never truly conquer these feelings to the point of no return but you can learn to deal with them in healthier ways that don’t compromise your friendships. A lot of this comes with maturity but maturity isn’t always guaranteed. So, for those of us who have a good handle on it, we need to be patient with our gal pals who aren’t quite there yet. Not everything is personal, regardless of how personal it might feel. Jealousy is abundant, understanding isn’t. We’ve all been there and we all know it’s not possible to be happy for everyone all the time. A jealous woman makes tiny strides to take the gloss off someone else’s accomplishments in order to keep from exposing the lack thereof in her own life. It’s just that simple but you’re better than that, so BE better than that!
In Los Angeles a man’s car is an extension of his wealth, his bedroom swag and overall success. I suppose most women expect to get out of a BMW 645 and walk into some swanky real estate-driven dwelling. Or, maybe, we envision it parked by the private valet service at a trendy Downtown LA high-rise. BUT, the last thing we expect to encounter is a random, annex styled apartment in the heart of Palms, CA fully equipped with the smell of incense and old sofa.
Now, I’m not saying that all men should drive nice cars, but rather, all men SHOULD keep it real. If you want women to love you for you, DO YOU! Don’t paint half the picture with material falsifications and then live off the steam of your almost-repossessed whip!
Don’t get me wrong, I love the boys, and I completely understand the pressures put on men to portray Hollywood money. And, I don’t let these LA vixens off the hook for demanding life styles that they are too lazy to create for themselves. But rather talking to the guy who hits the Crown Bar all night long hollering “google me” to every chick within earshot, I prefer a man that drives a Honda Civic and parks it at his own crib where the gas, phone and light bill are in his name.
The Community Boyfriend
When you’re in a relationship with someone it’s commonly understood that the person you’ve been dating will have friends who have been in their life much longer than you have. Whether you’ve been dating six months or six years, there are people who have depended on your significant other for friendship and have established meaningful, platonic relationships with him throughout the years. Simply put, you will always be sharing your special someone with friends, family and possibly ex- girlfriends. These external relationships can be a healthy time-share that enables everyone to maintain a sense of individuality while you build a strong couple identity. For many women, a man with a healthy amount of friendships is a sign of a balanced life. That said, regardless of how much you admire your man’s generosity, nobody wants to date the community boyfriend.
Certain friendships can feel invasive and challenging, thus, upsetting the natural dynamic of your relationship. Usually these types of friendships are consistent and you can determine whether or not you find it disrespectful early on in the dating phase. On occasion there are situations that arise mid-relationship that can truly test your trust, leaving you to wonder how much of a priority your comfort level is to your significant other. For example, let’s say that you’ve been dating someone and out of the blue one of his friends (of the opposite sex) needs a place to stay while they get their living situation together. The first thing you should ask yourself is how normal this situation feels to you and whether or not you feel threatened by another woman in your personal space. Make no mistake; even though it’s not your place, where your man lives is still an extension of your personal space. Why? Because it’s still a space of where you probably share a lot of time and intimacy together.
Of course, you never want to seem as though you’d want someone to be homeless at the cost of your personal insecurities. If that’s the case then you probably have your own segment of soul searching to do. What really matters is the amount of thoughtfulness your boyfriend exhibits to this person’s situation compared to the situation that he is simultaneously putting you in. If you know the woman well and never had suspicions about her before, it’s probably safe to assume that your boyfriend doesn’t think you’ll mind. In that same spirit, you probably wouldn’t mind but why guess?
One thing that women know better than anything else in the entire universe is how to gauge another woman’s intentions. It seems like the first thing that develops in the womb is a woman’s intuition. The way she rubs his shoulder, the way she eats in front of him and the way she appears to be all too concerned with your happiness are only a few of the ways in which to gauge another woman’s intentions toward your beau. If she’s always strategically dressed in such a way that she can easily show enough skin to appear sexy but not too much so that you don’t raise an eyebrow, it’s probably worth raising an eyebrow. If she’s always calling your boyfriend about her relationship drama but you never see her with a man, it might be worth raising an eyebrow.
Women are subtle, crafty creatures who can justify anything (and I mean anything) in the name of love. We compare our situations to everyone else’s and we read between the lines at all times while pretending not to calculate. Sometimes, we even justify finding solace in the possibility of a relationship with men who are unavailable. This is why most women are so good at spotting other woman who are out for their man. All of these things aside, do we really need to see the pink elephant in the room to know that it exists? Wouldn’t you be able to smell an elephant if it were in the room before entering? Isn’t it safe to assume that you might see the signs of an elephant moving into your personal space?
The hardest thing about trusting someone is that you have to do it 100%. There’s no middle ground for trust. That small fraction of doubt opens up the possibility that perhaps you are blindly investing your time. This is why boundaries are so important to clarify early on. They help us define the where we might go too far in our relationship.
Chelsea Lately: Malin Ackerman