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Dec
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Challenging the Stigma Against ‘Settling’

When it comes to dating, “settling” is as scary a word as “cheesecake” is to a SIS on her third day of a week-long diet. You’re warned by girlfriends and love experts that nothing good can come from settling. “Hold out,” they suggest, for the guy who makes your heart melt. Don’t marry a guy just because he makes himself available or because your biological clock is ticking as quickly as water transforms a press-and-curl into an afro.

I looked up the definition of the term, and admittedly, it does not sound attractive: “to move downward, to sink slowly to another level.” That’s not exactly the mental picture you want in your head when you’re standing at the altar with your future husband. No one wants to think, “I’ve settled.”

In most instances when people think of settling, they’re judging potential suitors based on a desired list of traits. We compare guys to our ideal. Does he have swag like Denzel, abs like Boris, intelligence like Barack, humor like a Wayans brother, sex appeal like Lenny Kravitz and drive like Diddy? OK. So, maybe that’s just my unrealistic list, but you get my drift. If the guy chatting us up at the Borders doesn’t have all these characteristics, he may be quickly dismissed. After all, settling is not an option.

However, I want to challenge the common concept of settling and submit that maybe settling is less about selecting whom we want and more about who wants us.

What the Fig Newton am I talking about? I’ll explain.

When a girl does meet that guy whose character and aesthetic traits are what she desires, it’s a rare instance that he feels the same about her. Let’s be honest. How many times has a SIS asked you, “Why can’t the guy I like, like me back?” That’s an age-old question I won’t even attempt to address.

So, what happens? Often times, a woman spends months or years trying to persuade that ideal man that she’s the right woman for him. When she’s done everything in her power and is completely tapped of the energy to continue on with a guy who’s doing more taking than giving, she finally bounces, and he’s married in less than a year to the next chick – the one he chose.

In this scenario, she hasn’t settled when it comes to her ideal man, but I think maybe she has settled when it comes to what she deserves as a woman. Instead of being treated like a queen by a man who’d “drink her bath water,” as Kwame so eloquently put it, she’s settling for a dude who wouldn’t even draw her bath. That’s not to suggest that the guy you’re longing for won’t treat you well, but if he’s not longing after you, is he treating you like you deserve? Does he make you feel priceless, or do you feel like you constantly have to prove your worth?

So, that begs the question: Is it settling to date the guy who doesn’t quite fit into that perfect mold, but who treats you like you fell from Heaven just so he could love you?

Isn’t that what you deserve? Surely, you can get with that program even if he’s a little shorter, older or less educated than your ideal man. For clarity, I’m not referring to the toothless, morbidly obese dude who may be sightly learning disabled, just the guy who’s cute, but maybe not your normal type.

I’m thinking it’s never settling to allow yourself to be loved the right way, but that’s my unsolicited two cents. What do you think?

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5 Responses to “Challenging the Stigma Against ‘Settling’”


  1. 1 SistahEsq
    December 8, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    You know I agree! 🙂

    We all have our lists, be they unreasonable in the eyes of some, or not…

    And I’ve had the opportunity to date guys who have the characteristics on my “list.” Or who I just plain like a lot for no logical reason. I’ve also dated guys…really great guys…who for whatever reason just did not hold my interest. I used to think staying with those guys would be settling. But in dating these great guys “who’d drink my bath water,” I’ve realized the extent someone can and will love me. As I get older, I absolutely know that THAT is what’s important. While the guy that does hold my interest is not loving me to the extent that he should be, someone else out there is thinking about me…and loving me unconditionally. Hmmmm.

    Unless your self-esteem is non-existent, surely you cannot chose the man who loves you half as much as someone else does. That has unhappily ever after written all over it. You should confidently know that your man (or the man that you want) loves you more than anyone else does. That’s just basic, right?

    Unconditional love remains at the top of my list, and I need to know that the guy I end up with loves me more than anyone else ever has…I will not settle for less than that.

  2. 2 Erica
    December 8, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    I agree somewhat. I think a lot of times we (black women) are a little too critical and harsh when it comes to our “lists” and what we want. At the same time, there are many black men who are not functioning to normal standards and maturity. I definitely think settling is not an option but I challenge us to look at our lists and ask if some entries are standards or preferences. There’s a difference.

    Great article!

  3. 3 T. M. Johnson
    December 9, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    I think a lot of times we get so blinded by our “lists” that we allow “the fantasy brotha” to take up too much mental space in our reality. I know I have to learn to live in the present more and at least evaluate some romantic opportunities where I usually would say “No, thanks!” off the bat.

  4. 4 TMaria
    December 9, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    You hit the nail on the head!! We spend so much time chasing the wrong guy. If he was we would not have to chase him in the first place!! We are blinded by looks, titles, s*x and material things we forget that those things fade but being loved the right way lasts forever. Never settle.

  5. 5 SheepieB8
    January 14, 2011 at 10:11 pm

    When I broadened my horizons I met my husband. Marriage is not always a piece of cake, but one of his best attributes was and still is that he loved and respected me from the start. Those attributes should be priority over everything.

    There’s nothing wrong with a list as long as they are realistic and level appropriate. We have to be honest with ourselves especially about what we truly need not just we want. At the end of the day the two will merge.


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