It is so obvious when a woman has settled for less in a relationship or marriage. Everyone around sees it, including her.
In a study conducted in the early '90s, a group of women with an average age of 30 (between 20 to 50) were asked to go to a garden and pluck apples from a tree. They could take whichever apples they wanted, in whichever kind of order, but they were not allowed to go back and pick an apple they had already passed, only the ones in front of them, and they could only take a basket full. And so a majority of the women passed the fattest apples, assuming there were better ones ahead. And by the time they got to the end of the garden, they realized that the best apples were behind them.
The same group of women were asked to go back through the garden once more and make their choice among the apples, but again they were only allowed to pick the ones in front of them, never to turn back and pick the ones they left behind. This time around, every single woman in that group picked the first "good" apple they came across, but as they proceeded, they realized that there were much better apples at the end of the garden and by the time they got there, their baskets were already full with average size apples, when the best ones were ahead.
The first trip through the garden is likened to dating. Dating is a period in a woman's life when there are options. So, even when you've found one that seems "good enough", you just keep looking because, as long as you're still free to walk through that garden, there are more options for you to choose from. And so you bid your time. But when you reach the end, you realize you had passed up on all the best ones, and you can't go back.
The second trip is likened to marriage. As soon as a woman realizes that she'd missed some of the really good men she'll ever be opportune to meet, she resigns to settle for the "next best thing". And this can be anybody. Even the wrong person.
This tendency for women to settle for whatever is available stems from a variety of reasons. It's not only about the fear of being alone (although that plays a major role), it goes way beyond that. Millions of thoughts go through a person's mind each day and it's a culmination of those thoughts that result into action. Including the action to settle for an unhappy union.
Below are some of the major reasons why women settle, and the cures for those reasons:
1. The Law Of Supply And Demand
In a recent article published in AskMen, Madeline Murphy stated that the fewer the number of men in an area, the higher the possibility that the women there would settle for whichever man looks their way. And, of course, he was right. If the men are outnumbered 10 to 1 by the women, chances are any guy can have his pick of women, without even trying hard or being up to their standard. So you might find yourself settling with just any kind of guy because you didn't have a lot of options to begin with.
Cure: don't limit yourself to one particular place. If you've stayed in one spot for too long and none of the guys you come across are up to par (by your standard), move on. Shop at a different place. Try to switch up your routine so as to allow yourself meet new people. That way, you'll turn it around in your favor. If you keep doing the same things you've been doing for years, you'll keep getting the same results, and, by extension, you'll keep meeting the same circle of men.
Cultivate more male friends. They provide you the opportunity of meeting their single friends. This is a great way to build your network of options. And it'll cost you almost nothing.
2. Low Self Esteem
If you believe you're not thin enough, you will settle. If you believe you're not light enough, you will settle. If you believe you're not good enough, you will definitely settle for less
Cure: Minimize your minor imperfection (the things about your physical appearance that you wish you could change), and focus on the overall strong $exy lioness that's within you. Appreciate yourself for who you are. Love the girl you once were and respect the woman you've become. Only after you truly love and respect yourself can you now look for the appropriate significant other to love and respect you the right way.
I understand that when you feel self conscious about your looks, a few nice words from any kind of guy can be really misleading. Don't let yourself be deceived. Know your worth by yourself so you won't need an "OK" verdict from a guy. Especially the wrong guy.
3. Coping Mechanism
It's very surprising the kind of things that some women are willing to "cope" with. When you resign to "just manage" whatever baggage he carries, you should know you're settling. You magnify his single best quality over all the other millions of bad qualities you shouldn't normally accept. This is a recipe for disaster.
Cure: Keep an open mind. He's just an imperfect human being. Never believe he's perfect. The minute you see a red flag that normally you shouldn't have to cope with, instead of making excuses for him, start considering your options. (meaning: get the hell out!)
In a study led by Stephanie Spielman, a post doctoral researcher in psychology in the University of Toronto, it was discovered that women who have stronger fear of loneliness are more prone to settle for less. You begin to think nothing can be worse than growing old alone. That fear imprisons you. This is the worse of all the possible reasons to settle.
Cure: Face your fear. Say to yourself "I'm perfectly capable of being a happy fulfilled woman all on my own. I do not need a man for that". The moment you internalize this fact, fear can no longer bully you into settling for average
5. Lack of Experience
If you're an armature in the dating scene, chances are you'll most likely sell yourself short. You think he's the best you can do. But more than half the time, you're probably wrong.
Cure: In a documentary called The Science of Attraction, test subjects showed that initially when they go out, they often sit and chat with people less attractive or less intellectual than they are. But as they went out more often, they began to know their place. They classed themselves with more equal mates/partners. As they got more experienced, they began to really know who they're better compatible with. This is what you should do.
Get some experience. Get out more. Rate yourself. Don't stay with the very first guy you get involved with; explore and learn. That way, you'll be able to rate yourself properly, and eventually end up with the right (equal) mate.
$ex beclouds your judgement so you can't clearly see how unfit he is for you. People around you can see it. Your friends, family, coworkers. They can all see it because they aren't sleeping with the guy, but you can't (because you are). $ex intimacy is the biggest mistake you can make before getting to know the guy. If the s#x doesn't blind you, shame might. You tell yourself he's already seen the ins and outs of you and therefore that binds you to him, even though he's wrong for you.
Cure: Give yourself time. If abstinence isn't your strong suit, at least wait a few months before jumping into bed with him. By then, you would know first hand the kind of person he is. Before the $ex blinds you, try to pick up on all the red flags. Decide for yourself that he's someone you can spend the rest of your life with, before you get in the sac with him. If he's good enough to sleep with, chances are, he's good enough to marry.
7. Biological Clock Is Ticking
Averagely from the age of 26 most women start feeling like they're running out of time. Everyone your age is getting married. The pressure builds. You don't want to waste the time you've already spent in the relationship so even when you later realize how wrong he is for you, you still go ahead with it because the alternative would be to give up all those wasted years. So you stay with the wrong person for the wrong reason (to save time) and end up having the wrong marriage.
Cure: Realize that times have changed, and places are different. A 20 year old unmarried woman in China is called a rotten tomato (meaning she's too old), whereas a 20 year old in Nigeria is still basically a child. A 20 year old woman in the '40s would already be married with children. But this is modern age. That pressure isn't there so much anymore. So live your life. Take your time. Don't be rushed into it. After all, you can't return the husband if you no longer like after marrying him. It's a lifetime decision, therefore, you should allow yourself to spend a lifetime figuring it out.
8. The Mother Theresa Syndrome
What was one of mother Theresa basic principles? Never give up on anyone. She taught us to love everyone and try to enforce change in people whenever the opportunity presents itself. And that is a great principle, if we're talking about kids or friends or family. When it comes to a spouse, you'd be making a mistake if you think you can "change" him. You know that won't work.
Don't get me wrong , I love mother Theresa. I live by her principles as best I can. But, truth be told, people never really change. Not really. We can adjust. Become better versions of ourselves. But, change? Nah.. we can't. So, if you agree to "work on him" or "change him" once you're married, you'll be setting yourself up for unhappiness even before you get in.
Cure: Look at getting married like going to a boutique. You look around. See a couture dress you like, but it doesn't fit you. It isn't your size. The best thing to do would be to let it go, and find one that fits. Now, you can decide to buy it anyway and work on it later. Maybe cut it to size or add some padding so it fits you, but it'll never be like the real deal. It'll never be couture anymore. That's how marriage is. If they don't fit, it'll never work. You can't take just anything and resign to work it into fitting you. It has to fit right from the start.
9. Strength and Determination
I'm going micro here for a minute, rather than macro. Black (African) women are strong. This is a fact. We're physically, emotionally and psychologically strong. Nothing breaks us. This can be a major stumbling block in finding Mr. Right. If you're strong enough to do it all by yourself (as in miss independent), then you hardly need a man. And if you hardly need a man, you don't spend a lot of time making mental lists of things you can and cannot accept. Just any man would do. Just as a figure head.
A woman who is strong enough to be her own man mostly just needs a man as a figure head, and if she's determined to settle down, she'll most likely settle for less.
Cure: Embrace your femininity. Don't offer to pay for meals or cab fair when you go out with him, let him do it. This way, at the minimum, you'll be able to know if he's even capable of buying you a meal or paying for a cab. A friend once told me that when she's with her husband, she feigns fear at the sight of a spider. Not because she's scared of the spider, but because she likes to see her man step up to the plate. If you tone down the strength a little bit (if only for the sake of appearance), you'll give him the opportunity to prove himself. This is how you'll know of he's the one.
10. You Don't Listen To Your Gut
Before ever you take a determining step in life, your gut warns you about impending dangers. Getting married is no different. The problem is, as soon as you think you're "ready" to settle down, you stop listening to those warning signs.
Cure: Trust your gut. If your gut tells you he's not the one, he's not the one. It's that simple. You're not over thinking it (it requires a lot of thought). Your mind isn't playing tricks on you. It's the reality. Accept it and move on to better.
11. You Give Up On Love
It's true that once you reach a certain age, the whole happily-ever-after thing begins to lose its appeal as reality sets in. The danger in that is that you become amenable to the wrong kind of union. A loveless union. You begin to accept that this is how real life is. That love doesn't exist. This makes you settle for any available guy, taking love out of the equation.
Cure: Don't settle for the first guy who shows any interest in marrying you. If you do, it means you're accepting his love without giving any consideration to your own feelings.
And if you don't feel for him the way he does for you, but you go ahead and stay with him because, well, he asked, you'll not only be giving up your own happiness, you'll make his life a living hell in the process. No one wants to be with someone who doesn't truly desire them, and you can't truly desire someone if you settle for them. Instead, ask yourself how you feel about this person. If you truly love him, and he doesn't raise any red flags, then you can weather any storm together. This is the most important thing.
One extremely Important thing to know is that not all good guys are taken. Sometimes, the best people are single because everyone assumes they're taken. If you're wondering why that hot intellectual bombshell is dating that average guy, it's because all the hot intellectual guys she's come across probably think she's taken, and the average guy had the guts to ask her out, and in the absence of any other brave men, she settled for him.
Now that you know the mistakes that can be made in choosing a man, and how to avoid them, why not spread your wings and go get better!
This article is written by Queen Ogbaje for Constative.com. Watch out for more articles from Queen in the coming days