Settling vs Compromising – Should You Settle for “Good Enough”?

| 10/10/2012 | Comments (3)

I was perusing some of the groups I participate in over on Facebook when I came across a quote someone posted which promoted settling for less than what you want or need in a long-term mate. I’ve included it here for your review.

“Here is what people refuse to tell you when it comes to a significant other.

WE ALL SETTLE. Maybe you don’t like the word which is why you up chuck the thought but its real. Call it compromising your desires or making concessions with yourself, all in all its the same… SETTLING!

Here is also something that people won’t tell you. There isn’t anything wrong with it.

Finding someone you like enough these days and can deal with for a long period of time is hard enough but start adding all that ‘stuff’ you think you deserve from a person or what he/she should be like, look like, have and will eventually have only makes it much more complicated.

Those ‘list’ are nothing more than an hinderance and before you know it you’ll be much older, bitter and sounding like a Terry McMillian movie which is all the way unattractive.

Settling is inevitable but you just have to find what you’re willing to give up on. I’ve noticed that those who have made ‘concessions’ earlier in life end up making less concessions.

I’m personally not interested in being in my mid 30s singing kumbaya over brunch with my fabulously single and successful girlfriends as we reminisce of the ghosts of boyfriends past and the chicks they married after we dumped them -_-“



Settling vs Compromising in Dating and Marriage

Back in 2008, The Atlantic posted a controversial article entitled Marry Him! The Case for Mr. Good Enough. It caused a tidal wave of shock to roll through the World of White Women, because the concept that they should settle for less than what they believe they want or deserve was a foreign concept. However, for Black women being told we should settle for less is nothing new.

Prior to the publication of “The Case for Mr. Good Enough, Black women were the only race of women told they should settle, take less, and be happy to have whatever piece of man other people deem good enough for them to have instead of what they wanted.  From my perspective it is not a coincidence that right after the article was published in 2008 a series of mainstream media newspaper articles and television broadcasts hit the airwaves (including one with Steve Harvey)- all focusing on the high numbers of single black woman in the U.S.  The common theme in those articles and broadcasts was black women’s standards are so high they are unrealistic and that is why black women aren’t married like other races of women.


Anyway, in the piece the author Lori Gottlieb made the case that women who want a husband and family should settle for a guy that they can tolerate well enough, and get the nice home, the cars, the trips and the children that they wanted. Otherwise they would risk being single for a long time. Are these just fear-mongering tactics designed to make women feel desperate and afraid about being single? I think so.

Another problem with pushing women to settle for a man that is “good enough” is both people in that relationship are being cheated. The woman is cheating herself out of a life of passion, and of being with a man that she truly wants to lie next to every night and wake up next to every morning and fight with and love and share the nuances of her soul just to say she has a man or is married.

The husband is also being cheated from having a wife at his side that adores him, that will have his back, that will put him in check when he is about to be stupid, that will be proud of him and tell him so, that will support his dreams and his family. She is there for HIM with her whole being, not just because she said “oh well, I guess he’s good enough.”

Of course he is only good enough for awhile and eventually one or both gets bored with the passionless life they have and files for divorce, or wanders into a string of affairs. Or they leave their “good enough” spouse when they meet the person that makes their blood rush and who they can’t get enough of. Good enough means settling, and settling is a big problem. No one should ever settle.

Now some of you are probably saying “hey Deb, didn’t you come out in favor of arranged marriages?” Yes, I did make a case for the positive benefits of arranged marriages, but that is a very different situation. When one’s family and chooses a mate for you, THEY NEVER SETTLE!!! For them no one is really good enough for their precious darling, so they take great care to choose a person that meets their ridiculously high standards. Everyone knows what is expected of them in an arranged marriage situation, because it is a cultural tradition.

However, in our world arranged marriages are not the norm. Women and men in our culture seek marriage with someone they not only respect and admire, but deeply love.  And though I strongly believe that no one should ever settle, there is nothing wrong with adjusting your expectations and making them more realistic.

For instance, if you say you want someone “attractive” does that necessarily have to mean they meet mass media standards for attractiveness, or can you be happy with someone that is attractive just to YOU? Or maybe someone you meet is extremely intelligent, accomplished and well read, but has no college degree – would that work for a woman that insisted her man be a college grad?

Another example is the black woman’s favorite “God-fearing man” standard. Maybe your man is not a church goer nor a bible reader, yet he’s the kindest most giving and considerate person you have ever met. He possesses a joie de vivre that makes being around him exciting and memorable. He has a world view of life, appreciates everyone and practices Buddhism instead of Christianity. Can you love him anyway though he does not follow your God? To me such adjustments fall under the term compromise, not settling.

Flashon – 123RF Stock Photo

Learning the Difference Between Settling vs Compromising

A reader asks “so I just need to make sure I am aware of the difference and don’t get them mixed up when choosing my mate and dating in general? I should therefore be thinking of what I want, what I need, and what I can do without, right?”

Focusing on those points is definitely a good starting spot. What I suggest though is a list that is slightly different.

  • Things I absolutely abhor and will not accept. On this list might be a drunk, a violent felon, an abuser, a smoker (you have a child with asthma), going through a divorce which means s/he is still married, lazy and shiftless worker, no direction or purpose in life, doesn’t want or cannot have children (when your top desire is a family). These are things you cannot compromise or negotiate on because the risk to your health and happiness is too damn high. Think this one through very carefully. The list should not be ridiculously long, but should cover everything that can make your life miserable.
  • Things I need in a mate. This is where it gets interesting. I promote flexibility here vs rigidity. For instance, a woman might say she needs a man on her educational level, someone with a college education. However, what she is REALLY saying is that she needs a man that can make a great wage, with whom she can have intellectually stimulating conversations, and who values learning and formal education.  See how many more doors up with that very small adjustment in criteria? Instead of saying a “professional man” say “a man that has career or entrepreneurial goals that he is making happen while he supports himself financially.” Instead of “6 feet and over” say “a man that is taller than me.”  Most people make the mistake of putting things in this section related to physical attributes. I’m suggesting that you give serious consideration to what you believe about physical attraction, then get real. Superficial things like how someone wears their hair, their income, what they do for work, their clothing or their weight change easily and in some instances in minutes. Some suggestions to consider modifying in this section might include height, previous children, ethnicity, religious beliefs, sexual experience or age.  Morals should never be compromised.
  • Things I would like to have. In this section you’d list your “Optional Items”. The list of things you’d like to have is fluid and adjustable. You’ll notice that it changes as you age, and depends upon your stage of life and personal desires in a mate at that time. In this section singles often put things like fun loving, great golfer, likes to cook, not a slob, etc. If you have favorite physical traits this is where you should list them, knowing that they are components of the fantasy person you seek, but will not impact your reality.

Bottom line:  You are settling when you lower your standards so much that you eliminate the important things that really matter to you out of a sense of desperation, fear of being single, or a fear of loneliness. I refuse to settle and neither should you.


date smarter not harder relationships talk show hosted by Deborrah Cooper

Click link to listen to the broadcast on October 21, 2012 on Settling vs. Compromising

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Veteran social researcher, relationship advice columnist, author and radio host. Author of hundreds of articles on American and black culture, gender issues, singles, dating and relationships. Author of "Sucka Free Love!" , "The 24 Types of Suckas to Avoid," "The Black Church - Where Women Pray and Men Pray," and "Why Vegan is the New Black" all available on Amazon.Com. Her unique voice and insightful commentary have delighted fans and riled haters for 20 years. Read her stuff on SurvivingDating.Com and AskHeartBeat.Com.

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Comments (3)

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  1. AceEliteX says:

    so your advice to the world is for women to be a gold diggers?

    • Deborrah says:

      AceEliteX Is that what your broke ass got out of this post? lol!

    • Razzy says:

      Why do dudes  with no gold, always think a woman is trying to dig up something they don’t even have in the first place lolol. 
      Would your broke ass settle for a woman who is a 3 in the looks department if you could get someone who is a 8, 9, or 10?  Yet knuckleheads like you always want women to settle when your azz ain’t willing to settle for anything.

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