Never Settle

Dear Chuck and Garland,

I’m so glad I’ve found your blog. I’ve read some of your posts and I’m impressed by the wisdom you provide to your readers.

I am 31 year old and live in Europe. Few months after I broke up with my first love back in 2003, he went abroad and started his own life in the USA. After this relationship was over, I’ve never found a long lasting and satisfying relationship with a man. I started some relationships and after less than 5-6 months I gave up pursuing them. I’m very confused and don’t know if there is love as I imagine it or love just doesn’t exist.

In the past 7 years we had many communication issues with my first love. Recently he contacted me and invited me to marry him and join him in the United States. Last winter we spend amazing time in Italy and we both started to organize the documentation for a fiancée visa. After some skype conversations I remembered the reasons why I left him 7 years ago. He has changed a lot, however some traits remain.

[I’ll give you a short example what makes me mad: he often says “I like you because you are independent and you can handle any situation. I like you because you are able to overcome any difficulties by your own.” That’s good for me, yeah? Unfortunately we both had some tough situations and his reactions were either nervously striking the floor with his foot or lighting a cigarette. Beside this he often jokes in a very inappropriate way so I’m offended and hurt]

I’m in doubt if I should commit with this man. If I decide to leave Europe and start a new life in the USA, there will be some big changes in my life and I would be ready to face challenges only for love. As I haven’t found a big love in the past years, I ask myself – am I doing [something] wrong? What do I want from a man? Maybe I should take him as he is… As I’m in doubt, I don’t know what to do – pretending I’m in love and marry him or staying where I am and waiting for the “BIG” love. Not to mention that I’m over 30 and many friends often say “It’s time to build a family and have children” !?! I don’t want to have false expectations towards love and to wait for Mr. Right for ages. But if I suspect I would be unhappy in this relationship, why should I start it again?

Thanks in advance for taking your time and answering me

GARLAND: Thank you for your great question and I apologize for the delay in getting it answered. That was my fault, and I’m sorry.

Now, as far as your situation goes, I truly see your dilemma. Let me give you my feelings on what you’ve said. First, I DO see how you could feel that ‘true love’ doesn’t exist. Actually, I’ve been there myself at one point. I was wrong. And I’m optimistic that you are wrong too. Let me share what got me through that time in my life. I don’t know if you are a person of faith, but I am, and what I did was ask God to let me know when that special person came into my life. I didn’t ask him to send me someone per se, I just asked that when he was ready and decided that I was too, that he just tap me on the shoulder, and say, “Hey G, she’s the one. This one right here.” And then I went on enjoying my life, enjoying my friends, enjoying the world around me and enjoying whatever came my way. It worked for me and I hope it will work for you.

As far as this guy here in the states goes. You sound like you gut instinct has labeled life with him as “settling” and let me tell you. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER – SETTLE. Life is far too short for bitter lemonade! Dump a scoop of sugar in it and enjoy the sweetness! Don’t settle for this rude, thoughtless, needy, petty little man. Don’t you dare come over here and marry some clown that tells you, “I like you because you are stronger than I am.” That is some foolish horse-pucky if I’ve ever heard it!

Let me tell you something that I told a good friend of mine one time – You give yourself to a good man that WANTS you, not a weak man that NEEDS you! When someone NEEDS you, they are addressing something they lack in themselves that you have. When that NEED is filled, they will ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS find a way to let you go and drift away from you. When someone strong WANTS you, they WANT to share with you, they want their strengths to be with your strengths and together the two of you can take on the World!

As far as your friends and family go with all of the “When are you getting married foolishness,” few things in life piss me off more, than stupid people trying to set someone else’s “Life Achievement Clock.” Trust me when I tell you, I’m positive that trying to satisfy someone’s expectations in life, love and families leads to more sadness and pain than anything else a person could do to themselves. When thoughtless morons question your lifestyle or the things you have or haven’t done yet in life – ask them when they are gonna’ lose weight, or stop smoking, or get a job, or get a degree, or stop cheating on their spouse, or get rid of that piece of crap car they drive, or get their teeth whitened? I’m sure they won’t bring up your marital status again!

Best wishes!

CHUCK: Garland has got it right. We view our first loves through rose-colored glasses, and frequently with a sense of nostalgia that causes us to overlook that person's shortcomings. So the fact that you're considering this man's marriage offer, despite the fact that he's throwing up more flags that a July Fourth parade, is vaguely ridiculous.

Because, if you take him up on his proposal, I can see your future: You two have broken up. You're frustrated and rootless because you have left your home for him. You may have a child or two, so you are tied to him for years to come because of that. All because you ignored the signs when you saw them.

Forget about settling for this man. Forget about listening to the harrassment of your friends. Because it never ends. First, it's, "When are you going to get a man?" Then, when you get one, it's "When are you going to settle down?" Then, "When are you two going to have kids?" Then, "You've got a boy. Don't you want a little girl?" And on and on. But you have to live your life by your timetable, not someone else's.

So, hold your ground and be strong. It's my experience that, when you stop focusing on finding someone, that when you're most likely to meet somebody. Keep an open mind, don't sweat the clock, and just make a decision to enjoy your life. The right person will come to you soon enough.

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