“Am I being too picky with guys?”
“How do I know if I’m settling??”
I hear these questions in my client sessions often.
These questions are very closely related because they stem from the same issue: unmet needs.
If you’re passing on dating some men, it’s likely because you’ve seen or experienced with your date that important needs won’t be met if you continue to date them.
If you’re wondering if you’re settling, it’s likely because some important needs aren’t being met and you’re considering continuing in the relationship anyway.
Like most women, you have your “list” — whether you’re fully conscious of it or not and whether it’s in your head or written down — it’s your list of qualities that you want in a man or a partnership.
Maybe it’s a rough list of a few things. Or a long list of everything you want in a partner.
But when you’ve been putting yourself out there, meeting men, going on dates, and you’re not meeting anyone who meets all the “criteria” on your list, it can be frustrating.
It can make you wonder if you’re being too picky.
You’re thrilled when you find someone you really connect with but then disappointed when he doesn’t fulfill what’s on your “list.”
You start to question whether your standards are too high, whether you really should have everything that’s on your list.
You’re tempted to lower your standards (to settle!)…because you’re worried whether you’re wasting your time.
And because you haven’t found anyone yet despite your efforts, you’re feeling really concerned about if you’re ever going to find what you’re looking for.
Can you relate?
Are You Too Picky? Here’s What Really Going On
You’re not too picky.
You know in your heart that everything on your list matters to you on one level or another. Otherwise, why would you even bother to put it on your list, right?
But here’s the point that women often miss when dating:
Everything on your list matters to you on some level or another, but not everything on your list carries equal weight.
What we’re not often fully conscious of is what do those things on your list really mean to you and to what degree do these things matter to you.
And this is where we run into trouble and confusion.
Because if they’re on your list, all those things matter.
But some things are wants (nice to have, but not requirements) and other things are deal-breakers (must have), and others are somewhere in between (needs. Still really important but not dealbreakers).
But when you don’t know to what degree the things on your list matter to you and when you try to apply everything on your list with equal weight to a dating prospect, you’re going to:
1) dramatically lower your pool of eligible men, and
2) cause a lot of confusion, frustration, and self-doubt on your dating journey because you don’t have the clarity to know when you should cut bait or keep seeing him.
For example, if you’re looking for someone who is “good in bed” and “trustworthy,” you have to be really clear on what those qualities and experiences mean to you and what they look like for you in your ideal partnership…otherwise, how would you know it when you see it (or don’t see it)?
The key is: How YOU define “good in bed” and “trustworthy” is what matters.
The Problem with Settling
The problem with lowering your standards is that when you expect less, you get less.
And if you settle and don’t find a relationship that has what you really need and require, then there’s always going to be a part of you that will be discontented about what you felt you “settled” on, if it was something truly important to you and your happiness.
This is why it’s so important to get clear on what you want and need in a relationship before becoming exclusive and making a commitment so that you can make a conscious choice about whether someone is a good long-term fit for you — versus finding out that he’s not really right for you when you’re already deeply invested and it’s much more painful to break up (like three kids and mortgage later!).
Step-By-Step Solution on How to Solve the Confusion Around Whether You’re Being “Too Picky”
So if you worry that you’re settling or wonder whether you’re being too picky, here’s what you should do instead to answer that burning question and move beyond the confusion once and for all:
1.Get your list and write it out if you don’t already have it written out
2. Look at each thing on your list and really ask yourself what that means to you.
For example, if you have “affectionate” on your list, what does that really mean to you? What does that look like and feel like in the kind of relationship that you really want?
Focus on getting clear on the kind of experience that you want in a relationship, not the traits.
If you want “great communication,” what does that really look like and feel like in the relationship you want? That clarity is so important for identifying what you really want when you’re out there dating and in the moment!
3. Sort your list. Remember, not all things on your list carry equal weight. Some things are more important to you than others.
Sort out which are deal-breakers (non-negotiable!), needs (important, still a must-have to some degree, but not a dealbreaker), and wants (icing on the cake, but not a must-have).
4. Use this deeper self-awareness to sort and screen in your dating journey.
When you’re meeting men and going on dates, be aware when someone is or isn’t meeting your criteria.
Be aware of how important that criteria is to you to help you decide whether you should say “Nice meeting you, but I don’t think we’re a match” or keep seeing him.
In my work with clients, I help women to be “Conscious Daters.”
I help them get super clear on who they are and what they want and how to more quickly and effectively make relationship choices and overcome dating obstacles, so they can attract Mr. Right faster (with way less stress and anxiety, and way more fun and ease!).
When Are You Settling Versus When Are You Being Too Picky?
Settling and being too picky sound like they’re opposite actions.
But as I mentioned earlier, they’re actually a symptom of the same problem.
We tend to settle or are “too picky” when we’re not clear on what we really want in a relationship.
Settling is denying or compromising some of your needs in order to make a relationship work. (Definition of compromise: to settle by mutual concession or to make concessions)
The problem with denying your needs is that there’s always a part of you that’s always going to be unhappy about that or feel like a need is going unmet.
So settling doesn’t work if you want to be happy long term.
However, there’s also a difference between settling and accepting.
When you’re settling, you’re denying your needs.
When you’re accepting, you’re not denying your needs at all, you’re making a conscious choice to choose things the way that they are because that’s how you want it to be right now, but you’re being true to your vision for the kind of life and relationship you want.
I struggled with the question myself about whether I was settling.
I love travel and I haven’t really traveled much since I had my son and got married (at least not for more than a few days or very far).
Before marriage and kids, I was all over the place…Turkey, Philippines, Alaska, Guatemala, Lebanon…in fact, I made a career out of it when I was writing for magazines.
But my husband has a very demanding day job and he can’t telecommute. And my son is still very young and dependent on me for his day-to-day care.
I worried whether I had made the right decision marrying my husband when I realized that circumstances might mean I’d have to shelve far and spontaneous travel for a while.
It got me down actually.
I really worried about whether I was settling.
But then it dawned on me that I’m still living my vision.
Travel is still important to me. Adventure is important to me.
But so is my family.
My husband’s career happiness and ability to provide for the family is important to me.
Being there for my son is important to me.
All those things are important to me… more important to me than being able to travel far and wide right now.
And I realized that those things aren’t mutually exclusive.
Marrying a husband who can’t telecommute or having kids doesn’t mean I can never travel.
It just means that travel might take a different form and duration, at least for now, then the adventure travel that I love and enjoyed.
And you know what? That’s ok with me.
I’m still happy.
I’m happy doing the day-to-day Mom thing and having my son close to me.
I’m happy that my husband is in a job that he enjoys.
And those are what really matter to me right now when it all comes down to it.
So I accept that farther and more spontaneous adventure travel just wouldn’t be realistic (or easy) for my family right now.
But am I settling?
I’m not settling because I’m still being true to my vision for the kind of life and relationship that I want.
I’m not settling because I’m still having my needs met, the needs that really matter to me right now.
And I can still have my adventure fix in other ways.
It might not be hiking Machu Picchu or picnicking on a sandbar in the middle of the Pacific eating the fish I caught that day.
But there’s still adventure, wonder, happiness, and closeness in taking a day trip to a regional park and seeing the look on my son’s face when he sees a raptor flying overhead or a banana slug on a log for the first time in his life.
The bottom line is: Figure out what truly matters to you.
Figure out how you want to feel.
Figure out what’s the experience that you want to have in your one wild and precious life.
And live that.
Find someone who’s not only aligned with that but supports and celebrates that desire with you.
Because what’s at stake?
Your happiness, your fulfillment, your ability to be who you are and to the life that you want to live.
And so WHO you choose to share your life with matters a lot.
So choose with your dreams in mind.
Choose while being deeply connected to who you are.
Choose out of love, abundance, and alignment, not out of fear and lack.
Choose consciously. 🙂
And know that you don’t have to figure it out all on your own.
How to Decide if He’s Right for You
Whatever the issues are in your relationship, if you find yourself agonizing over questions like…
Is this relationship worth it??
Should I give him a chance or walk away??
I totally get you. I felt the same way when I was dating, which is why I created a free guide to help you get clarity.
In my free guide you’ll discover:
- 30 questions to ask yourself to help you decide if you should give him a chance or if you’re wasting your time
- 22 red flags you should be aware of if you want to avoid heartbreak and painful surprises
- How to assess your compatibility with your partner to know if your relationship has long-term potential
Want to avoid wasting your precious time? I hear you! Download my free guide Should You Stay or Go? Relationship Choice Assessment ↴