Not long ago, researchers at the University of Toronto were curious: What makes people stay in unfulfilling and even abusive relationships? What makes some women settle for the wrong guy? What makes some men marry the wrong woman? What makes others continually get back together with that person they already know they can’t stand?
To find out, they surveyed adults in Canada and the US. Their conclusions: loneliness is painful, and some people would rather be unhappy in a relationship than unhappy alone. For them, the idea of being single was scarier than running through a haunted house while naked.
Or something like that.
I’ve watched this phenomenon a lot. When I get together with some of my girlfriends, I’ll sometimes hear a never-ending series of complaints about their men. Each time we get together, the complaints are the same. The men never change, and the relationships never improve. Why do they stay? Often, they tell me that they don’t want to sleep alone. As much as they hate these guys, they hate the idea of being single even more.
What people may not realize is that unhappily married people feel lonely too, and that loneliness can feel like a prison, one that is impossible to escape. Sometimes it’s good to settle, but you want to do it for the right reasons. Here are seven reasons not to lower your standards and settle for the wrong guy.
Don’t Rush Into Things 1 of 8
Yes, nobody's perfect, but lowering your standards too much can cause more misery later on. Here are seven reasons to consider ditching that dude.
You Want Someone to Complete You 2 of 8
If you feel incomplete, no human being will be able to change that. Rather than get hitched, look for wholeness in other ways. Try meditation. Get into therapy. Find a purpose for your life. For instance, maybe you dedicate your free time to solving a world problem, to doing good deeds, to volunteer work, or something else. Once your life is full and happiness naturally arises from within, then you're ready to get married. Happily married people feel complete alone as well as with their partners.
Photo credit: Frank Vincentz (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons
You Hate Doing Things Alone 3 of 8
Let me tell you: You're just as capable of hating doing things together, too.
And it's easy to get over the fear of being alone. When I was single, I often forced myself to eat out by myself. It helped me to get over my self-consciousness, and soon I felt comfortable doing all sorts of things alone, even going to weddings.
Now that I'm married I still do many things alone. I recently even went on a vacation without my husband. This kind of self-reliance makes a marriage stronger, not weaker.
Photo credit: orkatz goenaga, via Wikimedia Commons
You Can’t Keep Your Hands Off Him 4 of 8
Passion is great, but it usually fades. Also, the women who stay in relationships solely for passion tend to be the ones, in my experience, who are the most unhappy. Passion just isn't a strong enough reason to stick with a dude who is all kinds of wrong.
Photo credit: Alisa Bowman
You’re Embarrassed to Tell People That You’re Still Single 5 of 8
Think of how embarrassed you'll eventually feel when that All-Kinds-of-Wrong guy gets all critical with your friends, makes a big giant scene during holiday get-togethers with family, and loses it in public places. Think of how embarrassed you'll feel when your friends keep asking, "Why are you STILL with him?" and "What were you thinking when you married that dude!?!"
Photo credit: Alisa Bowman
The Idea of Breaking Up Feels More Painful Than the Idea of Staying Together 6 of 8
Keep a mood journal or a calendar. In it, rank your happiness on a 1 to 10 scale, and jot down that number every day. After a few weeks or months, check it out. If you're at the depressed, anxious, and lonely end of the scale most of the time, you have little to lose by ditching the dude.
Photo credit: Paul Holloway from Birmingham, United Kingdom, via Wikimedia Commons
He’s Loaded 7 of 8
So is Donald Trump. That didn't bring lasting happiness to Ivana or Marla Maples.
Photo credit: By Jaytabpiggyfan, via Wikimedia Commons
Your Mother Likes Him 8 of 8
Sometimes mothers have bad taste in boyfriends. It doesn't matter if your mother likes him. What matters: how you feel about him.
Photo credit: Bundesarchiv, Bild 146-2004-0052 / CC-BY-SA, via Wikimedia Commons
Read more of Alisa’s writing at ProjectHappilyEverAfter.com.