Settle with Mr. Right Now or wait for Mr. Right?
“Don’t settle for anything less than you deserve.” This popular saying that many parents have taught their sons and daughters is being questioned after a recent study revealed that the secret to a happy, long-lasting relationship is actually, just that, settling.
The study included more than 100 men and women who were in relationships for an average of seven and a half years. Participants completed a survey that asked them to rate the importance of 27 traits in a perfect partner and to what extent they felt those qualities were present in their partner and themselves. They also shared their level of satisfaction and happiness in their relationship.
After analyzing participants’ survey responses, researchers at the University of Texas discovered that satisfaction in a relationship doesn’t depend on how someone’s significant other measures up to their ideals of the perfect partner, but instead how their partner compares to other potential relationships available to them, also referred to as the ‘dating pool’ in the study.
In essence, those who expressed their partner didn’t fully live up to their expectations were still committed to the relationship if they believed their partner would be hard to replace or if there were no better options for them in the dating world.
“Satisfaction and happiness are not as clear cut as we think they are. We do not need ideal partners for relationship bliss,” shared psychology researcher Daniel Conroy-Beam in a press release. “Instead, satisfaction appears to come from getting the best partner available to us.”
So, is it time to stop searching for Mr. Right and settle with Mr. Right Now? The answer depends, says Dr. David Kemp, a psychiatrist at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill., and medical director of the behavioral health service line for Advocate Health Care.
“Settling has a negative connotation, suggesting that the person is simply taking what they can get in a relationship,” he says. “If you have a laundry list of qualities that you want or need your partner to change in order for them to be tolerable, that person is likely not the right choice for you and settling is not recommended. However, it’s important to realize that nobody is perfect and everybody has flaws. Learning to accept our own imperfections and those of our partner is a healthy attribute. Acceptance and understanding shouldn’t be viewed as settling, but as necessary ingredients to a lasting romance.”
Dr. Kemp says that maintaining a healthy, strong relationship takes compromise, effective communication and effort from both sides.
“The four things that nobody should settle for in a relationship are a lack of respect, commitment, consistency and dedication,” he adds.
About the Author
Julie Nakis, health enews contributor, is manager of public affairs at Advocate Children's Hospital. She earned her BA in communications from the University of Iowa – Go Hawkeyes! In her free time, she enjoys spending time with friends and family, exploring the city and cheering on the Chicago Cubs and Blackhawks.