No one would encourage you to “settle” when it comes to relationships…but would you ever consider it? What are your thoughts on settling in relationships in general?
“Marie: Okay. But don’t wait too long. Remember what happened with David Warsaw? His wife left him, and everyone said, “Give him some time. Don’t move in too fast.” Six months later, he was dead.
Sally: What are you saying, I should get married to someone right away in case he’s about to die?
Alice: At least you could say you were married.”
—When Harry Met Sally
Okay, who hasn’t felt like that at least once? Come on..hands up…no one can see. In this scene, it sounds like Sally’s friends are trying to help her get over her break-up to non-committal Joe by encouraging her to settle. She’s in her 30s, wants marriage and kids. What’s the harm? Well, in super-healthy self-confidence phases, I could tell you exactly the harm. And then…I felt it too.
Several weeks ago, still recovering from That Thing That Boy Did, but not wanting to miss out on the potential of the online matches who had the misfortune or ramping up their pursuit at the exact same time, I really thought I was in danger of giving myself permission to settle. And to me, settling means ending up with a guy who can check off all the must-haves for a Catholic marriage (practicing Catholic free to marry, wants kids, and who I don’t find unattractive) but who doesn’t spark my heart or entice me to fall deeper in love with him in the four ways C.S. Lewis says we can love a person (friendship, affection, passion, agape). I thought That Boy was “The One” and had never felt so intensely for anyone and sincerely thought I never would again. But if I’m being honest with myself, I was simply afraid of how long it might take and how much extra delay an engagement and wedding would be. “There goes the ring by 30,” I wailed to a friend.
So with the Potentials, I worried that because they met basic criteria, I’d just pick the one I liked best, run the relationship course as reasonably quickly as possible, and just get married already. But settling isn’t what anyone deserves. Everyone deserves to know on a heart and soul level that his or her spouse loves them and thinks the world of them—not as a consolation prize or means to an end (children). In that sense, settling in a sense is using a person. And as a Love and Responsibility nut, I do not want to go there.
Now that my emotions have settled and the last of the Potentials is engendering true feelings and hopefully eventually loving choices, I feel I can trust myself more—and what’s more, trust God. Because settling can also be a sign of distrust. Not trusting yourself that your life without “Mr. Right For Me” is just fine. Not trusting yourself to be able to break up with Mr. Only Okay. And not trusting in God being with you every step of the way, nor the Holy Spirit’s guidance as you make dating decisions.
I know it’s hard, especially since the most-oft-repeated (and most true) advice is “You’ll know when you know” and you feel like you’ve never known, or maybe you should have. Or hearing that passion dies after a few years and you need a solid friendship, so why bother waiting for someone who thrills your heart? I’ll tell you what I think matters in all this: reciprocity, mutuality, complementarity. The couples that “know” have this in their love for one another. That initial thrill of the heart encourages the beloved to thrill the heart of his or her intended. And when the romance has died down in the trenches of dishes and diapers, that mutual, reciprocal, complementary thrill that brought them together helps them stay together.
My thoughts: don’t settle, no matter how hard you may want to or what Mr. Okay is offering. You both deserve true love.