Don't say you haven't done it. I won't believe you. All of us are guilty of settling for less at some time in our lives.
Yep, we've all done it, shaking our heads in confusion the whole time. With that gnawing feeling in the pit of our stomach, we rationalize our situation, knowing we're treading water, or slowly sinking.
You know the routine. You've been dating a guy for a year and a half. He's nice enough, your friends and family like him, but, like a stale piece of gum, the zip isn't there.
Perhaps you've got a different problem. You're dating a guy who not only has spark, you have to take a fire extinguisher along on dates to keep the flames under control. But, besides being incredibly irresistible, he's hopelessly irresponsible.
Again, you settle. Your gut says it's time to move on, but you question yourself. You really want to move on, but you rationalize the situation.
- "He's not that bad."
- "I kind of like being with him."
- "There are good times with the bad."
- "He tells me I won't find anyone like him."
In any case, you're wasting your time. Precious time. Clock-ticking, second-counting, life-wasting time.
I have a friend who offered the following advice:
"David," he said in his fatherly voice, "I keep track of how many hours of life I have left, assuming I live to be eighty-two. I want to remind myself that every hour, every minute of life is precious. I want to remind myself not to waste time doing anything that is not best for me."
Wow! Is that ever a reality check!
I received a phone call the other day from a former client. At first I was concerned when I heard Gini's voice, knowing her previous situation. Sounding animated and excited, I knew something had changed.
"You remember where I was a year ago," Gini began. "I was stuck in a relationship that was going nowhere, with a man I cared about but who abused me with his control tactics. I couldn't breathe unless I asked permission."
"Yes, I remember your situation, Gini," I said.
Before I could respond further, Gini continued sharing her insights.
"I was too insecure, Dr. David. I was afraid I wouldn't find anyone better. My friends had warned me about setting my standards too high. I was afraid they were right, and so I settled."
"Fear stops us from really listening to our hearts," I added. "Deep inside I think we know the truth. And God keeps sending us messages, but it's scary to follow the truth of our hearts."
"Well, I finally left Jim. You probably knew it was going to happen, and after I quit counseling I finally did it. Leaving Jim was the hardest thing I've ever done. He didn't make it easy to leave him, that's for sure."
"So, have things changed?" I asked curiously.
"Yep. I finally recognized some important truths," she said warmly. "As long as I wasted time with Jim, I missed other opportunities to find the love of my life. As long as I was with Jim, my self-esteem was always going to take a beating. I was caught in a vicious cycle of doubt, fear, more control and then more doubt. I had to get to the point where it was too painful to stay."
"You were certainly fed up a number of times when we worked together," I reminded her. "But, there were some good things you didn't want to lose in the relationship."
"Well," she added, "that's true. There were good things, and I missed some of them for a while after I left him. But, I've got to tell you what's happened in the past several months."
"I'd love to hear what's happened," I said, encouraged and excited to hear her news.
"Since I had the courage to leave Jim, I met a man who's a perfect mate for me. We've been dating about nine months and we're getting engaged soon. He attends a new church I've been attending, and loves my kids. He's not controlling and loves me for who I am. I never would have met him if I were still dating Jim. So, I just wanted you to share in my happiness."
"I'm so pleased for you, Gini," I said. "You deserve the best and I'm glad you found it."
"I have a favorite verse that helped me during the rough times. ‘For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and of a sound mind.' It's really helped me."
"God will help us be courageous, Gini."
"There's one more thing, Dr. David."
"Tell everyone you know not to settle for anything less than the best. Not only will they be unhappy, but they're missing out on God's absolute best for them. And time's wasting."
"I'll tell them, Gini. Don't settle for less than the best."
David Hawkins, Pd.D., has worked with couples and families to improve the quality of their lives by resolving personal issues for the last 30 years. He is the author of over 18 books, including Love Lost: Living Beyond a Broken Marriage, Saying It So He'll Listen, and When Pleasing Others Is Hurting You. His newest books are titled The Relationship Doctor's Prescription for Healing a Hurting Relationship and The Relationship Doctor's Prescription for Living Beyond Guilt. Dr. Hawkins also conducts Marriage Intensives for couples in crisis seeking immediate, intensive counseling.
Dr. Hawkins grew up in the beautiful Pacific Northwest and lives with his wife on the South Puget Sound where he enjoys sailing, biking, and skiing. He has active practices in two Washington cities.