It's such a small little word, but it speaks volumes.
It carries such a huge weight of thoughts and ideas, of repercussions and fears.
And yet, do we really know what it means?
We don't want to settle for less than we deserve (and we shouldn't be settling for less than we deserve).
But what, exactly, do we deserve, and what, exactly, does it mean to settle for less than that?
If all we were looking for was to fall in love, get married, and live happily ever after, we would do exactly this. It would be easy. One way or another we would cross paths with someone who was stable and grounded, was ready for the same kind of relationship that we want, who we could connect with on some levels, and who we could enjoy spending time with.
He would be the type that wanted a real relationship, who wasn't afraid of committing to a lifetime with us and raising a family together (if that’s what we wanted) and growing old together as loving companions.
He would be everything we knew should be enough for us and yet, for reasons that only we can understand, he's not enough.
Because it’s not about that.
We don’t just want that house in the suburbs with the husband and family to grow old together with. We think that’s all that we want, and we tell everyone that's what we want, but the truth is that we want so much more.
It’s because we absorbed it all
All those hidden messages, all those subtle themes we were spoon fed growing up by the stories, the media, movies, television, books - even our own families.
We bought into the dream of so much more that was only part of the fantasy we were fed.
We heard about knights in shining armor coming to rescue us, we saw the images of the prince’s kiss that brought us back to life. We learned that we had the power to melt even the coldest beastly heart and make him fall in love with us and us alone.
And as much as we've grown up in an age where women can rescue and save themselves and do practically everything our male counterparts can do, that old programming is still very much alive and well inside us.
We may cover it well, we may be independent in every way imaginable, and yet, still there lingers the leftovers of the words, the thoughts, the images, the conditioning that whisper a very different story than the outward one we live.
It’s the life within us that we’re talking about here.
We may think we’re not like this, but our stories, our patterns, our pasts reveal just how true it really is.
It happened to me, too. I didn't – and couldn't – see it either at the time when I most needed to. I searched high and low for exactly the opposite of what I said - and believed - I was looking for.
What I was really searching for was the romantic fantasy that I didn't even realize I wanted so badly. I insisted that I was only looking for someone to love me and for me to love, someone who would make a wonderful husband and father to our future children, but in reality, what I was looking for was so much more complicated than that.
And so, I shouldn't have been surprised that I attracted exactly what I was actually searching for. Confusing, complicated men who said one thing then did another, who promised so much, but delivered nothing but heartache. Men who seemed so full of potential, but wreaked havoc on my self-confidence and my self-esteem.
But I understand why now, because I realize it’s about so much more than just happily ever after or someone to fall in love with.
We make it about so much more than that
It’s someone to complete us. It’s someone to prove our worthiness. It’s someone to show the world that we’re OK after all. It’s someone to slay our dragons, to defend us to the end, to help us rise to the places that we don’t feel quite comfortable being by ourselves, or we don't think we can get to ourselves. It’s someone who just by their presence grants us entrance to that widely accepted social status club that belongs only to couples.
This is what it’s about.
It's quite a tall order
And it says something about the type of women we are. It’s no coincidence that we’re the sensitive type. The ones who wear our hearts on our sleeves, with the soft loving, giving, caring hearts of gold that understand what everyone else needs better than we understand what we need ourselves.
Who else can absorb these messages like we do, the underlying themes that weren't just the stories we were told or the images we were shown, but they became the very lifeblood of our own stories and themes?
We absorbed it all.
And so it’s no wonder that we can’t just settle for someone who loves us, who we love, too, who wants the same thing as we do and makes this all so easy.
We've convinced ourselves that we need so much more.
We want to make someone love us. We want to change someone’s ice cold heart. We want to convince someone we’re worth it all. We want our own epic love story.
And in the process, we've confused what it means to be loved and we've made it into something that has so little to do with the real kind of love that's all we really ever need.
We've confused settling with the simplicity of love and in the process, we’re settling for every other kind of behavior and treatment in return.
We can call it so many things – and we often do. But in the end, the truth is told.
We want someone to slay our dragons. We want someone to fill us up, to make us whole, to complete us, to give us permission to live the lives we never knew we had in us. To make us rise and help us stand. Oh we've been doing exactly this on our own for longer than most of us would like to admit, but it’s not the same. We want the rest of the story.
We want the fairy tale.
It’s time to come back down to reality
You know, that place where we've never spent too much time. We've lived in the past trying to figure out the why, and we've lived in the future trying to picture the when and the how, but we've never lingered for very long in the simple, steady place known as the now. The present reality. Where things are simply as they are and not as we long to make them out to be.
That’s the place where we find true love. Real love. It’s not about a fantasy or a fairy tale or an epic love story or fiery sparks. It’s about two real people looking for love with someone who’s on their page, who wants the same thing, and isn't afraid to admit it or make it happen.
And that’s exactly the only way it does happen!
And yet, watch us for a moment, and we may try to run.
Because it doesn't feel like we pictured it
It doesn't have the dramatic music or the breathless vibe or the fluttering heart that makes it recognizable to us. There isn't any drama or extreme emotions running wild. It’s not quite like you imagined after all those subtle little messages you were given, the ones you don't even remember getting, but your subconscious mind does.
But there's a good reason it doesn't look like that. Because it's real.
This is what you'll find if you let yourself see it. If you’ll give someone a chance who doesn't take you from 0-100 in a single second. If you’ll allow yourself to get to know him well enough before you decide he’s not exciting enough for you. If you’ll entertain the idea that love the fairy tale and love the reality might just be two very different things.
And the reality version is the only one you really want.
I know it’s a change, and it’s not an easy one. But trust me when I tell you you’ll be happier than you ever could have been without this shift. The other stuff is about you and your programming, not real love.
This stuff, the reality kind, is about love. Don’t go one more day settling for less than the real thing.
Take a second look at that kind of cute guy who’s waiting for you. No, not the one who turns your world upside down and has you repeating all your old patterns all over again.
The new one.
The one who’s calling when he said he would. The one who’s asking you out with enough notice that respects you have a life. That shows he really wants to see you. The one who wants the same kind of relationship and the same kind of life that you want.
The one we pass over because we think it's not exciting enough and we don't want to settle for less than exciting.
But the truth is that chasing the fairy tale and going for the excitement of the roller coaster ride is what settling really is. Settling for the crumbs of a relationship instead of the real thing.
There’s only one person who’s keeping you from having the kind of real love that you've always wanted: You.
It's time to stop settling for less than what you truly want - real love!