The Dating Debate: Should You “Settle”?

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As a single woman who’s been doing her best to intentionally pray and navigate the dating world, I read a lot of articles on dating. Many of them say “don’t settle” and “hold out for God’s best for you,” while others really push the idea of “settling for a good guy” (because there’s no such thing as perfect).

I’m curious what others’ thoughts are when it comes to these differing perspectives, and I wonder…

Perhaps there’s a healthy balance between the two extremes?

Because here’s the thing: I agree there’s no such thing as perfect, but I’m also not sure I like the term “settling.” I think the idea of settling can often be associated with fear and lack of trust in God’s provision, and I don’t want the fear of remaining single to ever dictate my dating or marriage decisions.

Plus, if we’re dating with marriage in mind, aren’t we essentially searching for a person who would be a great partner and friend to share the ups and downs of life with? Someone who sees the best — and worst — in us (and we in them), but makes the choice to love anyway? Someone we’re better for the Kingdom with (and vice versa)?

And that doesn’t sound like settling to me.

In her post Don’t Short Circuit Your Love Story, blogger Stephanie May seems to strike the right balance between don’t settle and settle. She writes: “We’re not talking perfection here, we’re talking about delaying instant affirmation for a relationship that is full of life.”

A relationship that is full of life.  

Yes.

Amen.

In his post 4 Signs He’s Worth Marrying, Dale Partridge also touches on that idea when he writes that you may have found a keeper if…You have fun together. He poses these questions to his readers: Are you able to laugh, have meaningful conversation, and truly enjoy each other for years to come? I think this point is super important, because it distinguishes between the “good on paper” person and someone you genuinely connect with and want to spend time with — an important distinction to make, I think, when we’re talking marriage.

A few months ago, I decided to really simplify my prayer for my future spouse and start praying simply to meet and marry my best friend. I think in that prayer, I was thinking what Dale Partridge is expressing in his reason #4 — that if you find the blessing of that kind of friendship and connection, you’ve found something worth holding on to, something worth building upon, something worth choosing.

So, perhaps what I’m actually proposing in this post is that we stop using the term “settle.”

Because while I’m certainly still figuring all of this out, I think it’s more about choosing, than settling

Choosing to take a chance.

Choosing to keep an open heart.

Choosing to trust.

Choosing to love.

And when it really comes down to it…I don’t want marriage to be something I settle for, I want it to be a choice I prayerfully and wholeheartedly make.

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10 thoughts on “The Dating Debate: Should You “Settle”?

  1. Emily Hornburg says:

    I think it’s learning the difference between “realistic expectations” and “settling.”

    Being realistic is realizing Disney prince’s don’t exist, life isn’t like a movie, and we all fail. There is no perfect person out there. We’ll fight, have boring days, and there will be times we don’t like each other. It’s realizing romance isn’t all that glamorous and romantic sometimes.

    Settling I think is different. It’s lowering your standards. Not being in a healthy relationship. Just… settling.

    Does that make sense?

  2. Haleigh says:

    I love the way that you stated your thoughts on settling, because I think we do ‘settle’ or don’t acknowledge God’s best for us when we are being driven by fear. And I agree that I don’t want my fear of my future to dictate how I make decisions navigating through dating and marriage. Recently, an older and wiser (and married) friend reminded not to settle in this area of my life. She was essentially saying not to take matters into my own hands. She was encouraging me to not let fear call the shots. That is not to say that we should keep holding out for the better thing when God has clearly given us a good gift. It is difficult to discern between the two sometimes.
    All that to say, when you find your best friend and the one whom you want to walk life with, the good and fun blessings should outweigh the things that you are you are giving up and compromising about yourself.
    That’s my opinion. And I think your prayer is right on track :)

  3. Leelee says:

    Don’t be so desperate for a date that you’ll go out with anybody. Have a reasonable set of standards and expectations. Whoever he ends up being will probably be better than some of your expectations, but not all of them. It is more about balance than settling.

  4. Katie @ A Place to Dwell says:

    Hi, Haleigh, really appreciate your thoughts! And I love what you said about not “holding out when God has clearly given us a good gift.” I think that’s the balance we very much need — and it ultimately comes back to trusting in God and following where He’s leading. So appreciate you reading and sharing! :)

  5. Natalie (@fashionatalie) says:

    I love how you are praying! What an awesome prayer for your “best friend”! I agree that “settling” is an UNsettling term, because I know now that I was about to do that in my previous relationship that shattered my heart for 2 years. And now I can see there is SO MUCH MORE than that available. I think it all comes to down to trusting in God’s timing and leading, and really LISTENING to the checks in our spirit in our dating life (That’s the hard part!) :) God’s version of “perfect” for us is so many times not necessarily OUR version. But God’s version is always better!

  6. Katie @ A Place to Dwell says:

    @Natalie: Girl, love this: “God’s version of “perfect” for us is so many times not necessarily OUR version. But God’s version is always better!” Yes! And Amen! :) Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts!!

  7. Kelsey @ Pinegate Road says:

    This whole conversation is a lot more encouraging than I was expecting! After reading Dan’s article last night, I had dreams about calling back that one guy I wasn’t quite in to out of fear. I’m not going to listen to fear, rather I’ll trust in God that when it’s right, I’ll feel more signs. I’ll still stick it out past the first date to really see this next time though ;) Thank you for posing these questions here, and for shedding light on an option in the middle. Settling is not a fun word ;)

  8. Natali says:

    This post was such a blessing. I shared it with my other single girlfriends and we were all encouraged. I felt affirmed in the relationships I ended or turned down.

    Thank you, Katie! :)

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