For many people, the drive for a solid, strong romantic relationship is powerful. This makes perfect evolutionary sense, as our ancestors had a much better chance for survival when they could divide up the tough tasks of primitive life. Today, however, while a lifelong relationship can be highly rewarding, those who remain single are not likely to suffer life-limiting effects. Still, too many people settle for relationships that are less than fulfilling because they simply don’t want to be alone. Here are 3 reasons you should never settle for “good enough.”
1. Your Odds Are Better Than You Think
Sure, nothing is ever guaranteed in life, and it is possible that you will never meet “the one.” But if you aren’t the type of person who is inclined to cheat, taking yourself off the market prematurely makes this a self-fulfilling prophecy. Why tie yourself to someone who does not make you feel really, really good about being with someone, when the sheer number of potential mates is so mind-bogglingly high?
Global connectivity makes it easier than ever before to meet new people both in your neighborhood and around the world, and improved health gives us the luxury of time in finding our soul mates. We have all heard the stories of an actor who stopped auditioning one day before the audition that would have been his big break, or the publisher who wishes a particular book had been offered to her before the writer gave up. The world is full of fascinating possibilities, but only those with the guts and the grit to keep going will reap the ultimate rewards.
2. You’re Not Making the Most of the Single Life
When you are too focused on being in a relationship, you lose out on the myriad of benefits that the single life provides. Rather than settling for a relationship that is less than ideal, take the opportunity to get to know yourself better. Figure out your likes and dislikes, your deal breakers, and what you actually want in an ideal partner. Spend time with your friends and relatives. Try new hobbies. Travel. The more you learn to love and accept yourself, and the more you open yourself up to the world around you, the better your chances of meeting someone to make a great life-- in a partnership.
3. You Might Be Accepting More Than You Should
Settling for a “good enough” relationship means accepting quite a few fallacies. One of the biggest is that being in a relationship, any relationship, is better than being alone. As soon as you start down that line of thinking, you put yourself at risk for accepting all sorts of red flag behaviors from your partner. Things that would prevent you from ever giving the person a second glance at a bar become acceptable quirks due to your increasing intention to hold onto the relationship.
This is largely due to another fallacy, known as the sunk cost fallacy. As the theory goes, you have already invested so much time and energy into the relationship that it simply has to work out. Otherwise you have “lost” your initial investment. In reality, however, continuing to stay in a poor relationship only means that you will continue to invest in something that will never truly make you happy.
Related to this are the twin concepts of loss aversion and risk aversion. Leaving someone who isn’t necessarily bad, but just isn’t right for you, means taking the risk that you will meet someone better. What if you don’t? What if your current partner is as good as it gets? This type of thinking can stop you in your tracks, preventing you from making the necessary gamble to find someone more compatible. Yet staying means continuing to pour time and energy into the safe bet, while never really finding the major payoff. Is it truly worth it?
Of course, each person and each relationship is different. Only you can decide what is truly right for you. If your relationship feels unfulfilling, an honest conversation with your partner is a great first step. Even the best relationships can sometimes go off track, and making a commitment to change may be all that you and your partner need. However, if your feelings continue, especially if the bad seems to outweigh the good, it may be time to move on. How will you ever meet a great person for you if you are already coupled up with someone who just isn’t right for you?
Looking for verifiable information on the science of attraction and relationships? We’re a neuroscientist and a biological anthropologist eager to help you put the Anatomy of Love to work in your own life.
Written by: Lisa FritscherNEXT