Why Do People Settle For Less?

Why do people settle for less than they deserve? I can think of a few reasons, given my own experience. And based on the comments I received on one of my recent YouTube videos (the one about meeting my husband)? I think the subject of settling (as in, DON’T) is worth talking about. After all, don’t we see this every day? Have you ever settled for less than what you felt you deserved? I have. Why? Again, a few reasons. And it irks me because I mean, this stuff isn’t taught in school. And I feel like it should be! I think a LOT of folks would avoid SO MUCH of heartache if it was. However, experience is a fantastic teacher, so let me impart some wisdom on you. Get ready, because class is in session.

People Who Settle For Less – But Y Tho?

FIRST of all, let’s talk about WHY people settle. Matter of fact, let’s take me for example. Prior to meeting my husband, I was STILL ready to settle. At the big age of forty five, no less! And that BURNS ME UP!! Why? I felt like I wasted my time!! And you don’t think about that when you’re 20 or 30 years old (I didn’t) but when you’re in your forties? You start getting clarity on some things. So why was I so willing to settle?

You’ll never believe it. Can you guess?

I didn’t want to be alone, and, I didn’t feel like I deserved to be happy. But why those two reasons? Well, let’s do a little exploring to that end. Matter of fact, let’s take a ride back in time.

What Was Your Childhood Like?

What does childhood have to do with anything? Think back. Were you bullied? Or did you undergo trauma? Or maybe nobody had time for you-were you “invisible”? Made to feel less-than? All of these factors can cause someone to grow up feeling worthless. And although they teach in school what to do about a bully? THERE IS NO FOLLOWUP on how to regain your self confidence!

By the way? When it comes to bullying, JUST IGNORE THEM might get them to stop. But we all know by the time it DOES stop, your self-esteem can wind up trashed, like mine was. So I grew up letting people tell me my opinion of myself. I was ugly. Fat. Stupid. NOT FUNNY. And I believed it. Even though I was NONE of those things.

So, BECAUSE I believed these things, I also believed that I didn’t deserve love. OR happiness.

That’s right. Complete and utter bullshit.

Why Do Some People Feel Almost Programmed To Settle?

Personally, I think that there are a LOT of women who feel this way. And strangely enough, we feel almost…programmed to settle. And for WHAT?! Men that aren’t shit and/or treat us like shit? What the ever loving hell?! Consider this comment that I got recently:

This story needs to be heard by every woman in their late 20s and early 30s. Everything you said is just 100% on point. And with this “ghosting” dating culture its become accepted to be treated like shit just to have someone. I love it!

Madison L.’s kind comment on my “Storytime! How I Met My Husband” video on YouTube

Now I must say that was a nice comment. Thank you, Madison!

But here’s what I REALLY honed in on: it’s become accepted to be treated like shit just to have someone.

That just burns my beak!

And WHY has it become almost commonplace for women to be treated like shit?


My generation was taught by our parents and grandparents to “just give him a chance”. That we’d better “lower our standards”. And God forbid we think too highly of ourselves, right? My husband thinks it has to do with misogyny and the almost unquestioned assumption of patriarchy. Which tracks, because when’s the last time you heard a MAN questioning if he was good enough? Or that HE should “lower his standards” so that he “won’t wind up all alone”?


Spoiler: NOTHING.

But for generations, women have been indoctrinated to believe that if we’re not married or popping out kids by a certain age, we’re worthless. Think about it! What was an unmarried woman called back in the day? A SPINSTER! An OLD MAID. Dried Up. Worthless! Why? Because horror of horrors, she couldn’t catch and keep a man!


Y’know what? A WOMAN WITHOUT A MAN IS LIKE A FISH WITHOUT A BICYCLE. Okay? Period, the END, FULL STOP! I wish I could take credit for that, but I can’t. Irina Dunn coined that phrase in 1970. I learned it from a YA novel by Paula Danziger – one of the characters wore a T-shirt bearing that slogan. Funny the things you remember, huh? But said slogan stuck in my brain at the tender age of ten, before I even knew what a feminist was. BUT IT’S THE TRUTH!

Fish and Bicycles and Metaphors, OH MY!

So let me just get right to the point here and say this: IT IS BETTER TO BE ALONE THAN TO BE MISERABLE. It took me a VERY LONG TIME to learn that lesson because, well, I was that fish who INSISTED she needed that bicycle. No matter how broke down, rusty, flat-tired, etc. Are you catching my drift here?

Here I was, but I was going NOPLACE.

And WHY did I insist on all those broke down bicycles? Well, for two reasons.

  1. I didn’t believe in my heart of hearts that I deserved better. I went for Mr. Right Now instead of Mr. Right. And BELIEVE ME when I say that I’m kicking myself for spending OVER TWENTY YEARS investing time, money, and effort into men who, quite frankly, didn’t deserve it. I SETTLED. Because they were good enough (in my mind). And while “good enough” might work for the government, IT DOES NOT WORK IN RELATIONSHIPS. Why? BECUASE YOU WILL WIND UP MISERABLE. At least, I did.
    Which leads me right into point number two.

  2. I didn’t want to be alone. Let me just be blunt. The thought of being alone was TERRIFYING! I was lonely. I was desperate. So I put up with a LOT of crap just to have a man. And I grew up in a time where if boys teased you, it meant he liked you (or so the grownups said). So that means I put up with a RIDICULOUS amount of emotional abuse because stuff I learned during my formative years stuck. By the way? That bit about teasing equals liking? IS PATENTLY NOT TRUE. A little boy being mean to a little girl can easily grow up into a man that’s mean to a woman. So can we just not with that anymore?

You Don’t Have To Tolerate Poor Treatment Just To Have Someone

And y’know, I’m sad AND mad to say that in the past, I let men speak to me & treat me any way they pleased. Why? because 1. I was afraid to speak up, lest I wind up alone, and 2., I thought it was okay for them to speak to me that way because I didn’t feel good about myself. You see how insidious that all is?

Listen to me and listen close. I want you to know here and now that you DO NOT have to tolerate poor treatment just to have a man. In other words, you don’t have to settle for bad behavior. Know your worth! And if you don’t know your worth, take some time to discover your worth. Learn what YOU bring to the table, and don’t just pick up any busted-down bicycle off the side of the road because it looks lonely, okay? Remember, YOU DO NOT HAVE TO TOLERATE SOMEONE BEING AN ASSHOLE TO YOU. This goes for relationships, romantic AND platonic, or even a job. It is okay for you to stand up and say HEY! YOU DON’T GET TO TREAT ME LIKE THAT! And if they continue to do so, I give you full permission to say,

and leave ’em in the dust.

So Back To Why People Settle For Less Than They Deserve

So, we’ve covered two of the big reasons, but people also settle for less for other reasons. Ever hear of a relationship out of convenience? I think the kids call this a “situationship” – ha ha. Or they settle for financial reasons. Or because they have YEARS invested in a relationship. That’s the Sunk Cost Fallacy, by the way. Do you know what that is? Allow me to elaborate:

The Sunk Cost Fallacy describes our tendency to follow through on an endeavor if we have already invested time, effort, or money into it, whether or not the current costs outweigh the benefits.

The Decision Lab

I don’t care if you have TWENTY YEARS or a shit ton of money invested in a relationship. If you’re not happy, get the fuck out. It sucks, but sometimes, you just GOT to cut your losses. And please, PLEASE don’t worry about “what people are going to think”. This is YOUR life. Only YOU can live it! So please, don’t settle. And for the love of GOD, don’t settle to make someone ELSE happy, because I can guarantee you that YOU’LL wind up miserable.

So What Have We Learned About Settling?

Hopefully you’ve realized at this point that your self worth does not depend on a relationship. Yes, I’m happily married now (at the big age of 48), but I’ve made a LOT of mistakes along the way. Mistakes that I’d rather not see ANYONE make, hence me writing this blog. I’d rather not see anyone waste their time like I did. Time is precious, y’know? Like I always say, it’s the most precious currency we have. So don’t waste YOUR time on people who don’t deserve it.

And if nothing else, I’ve learned that it really and truly IS better to be alone, than to settle for less than what I feel I deserve. THAT’s how I wound up being married to the best man on the planet. (Yes, I might be a little biased.) But you know why that is? I STOPPED SETTLING. I KEPT MY STANDARDS HIGH and now I have the life I want. Sounds almost too simple, doesn’t it? It’s not. Believe me, it wasn’t easy. But nothing worth anything ever is.

Final Thoughts

And y’know what? Here’s something else. I want you to know here and now that YOU DESERVE TO BE HAPPY. You. Reading this right now. Go back and read that part about you deserving happiness again. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO SETTLE in this life. Not for a relationship, or a job, or anything that isn’t everything you want it to be. Okay? So in the future, please keep the following in the forefront of your mind:

  • You DESERVE to be treated well.
  • You DO NOT have to earn happiness or prove yourself to ANYONE.
  • YOUR WORTH is not dependent on a relationship.
  • YOU are MORE THAN ENOUGH on your own.
  • And that’s why you do NOT EVER have to lower your standards, no matter what ANYONE says.
  • Being alone is better than someone making you miserable.

Lastly, I want you to know something. You are a worthy human being deserving of the VERY BEST that life has to offer. I don’t care if someone told you differently in the past. That was then, and this is now. So at this point, don’t settle for anything less than you deserve. Not today, not tomorrow, not next week, not next month; NOT EVER. You got this. I believe in you! Now go get ’em, Tiger!

Lecture over, class dismissed.

Thanks for reading,
Meredith Silverman

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