Reaching to settle

“As bad as either one is, I would rather be the settler. It would be mortifying to know that in striving to be the reacher, he would have as good as settled for me.” – Becca

It’s a question we always ask ourselves: what do we want in a partner? There are those who want a pair of alluring eyes to wake up to in the morning, or a voice like James Ingram’s to answer the phone to. There are those who want a trusting, loyal heart to rely on, a glass-blowing wit to banter with, or an unpredictable spontaneity to be excited about. And then there are those who are just content to take whatever comes their way and hope for the best.

When it comes to relationships, is it better to settle for what we have and do our best to make it work, or to search tirelessly and reach for the closest that we can get to our completely unrealistic perception of the ‘perfect person’? As it is there is no such thing as the perfect person — the search for which I likened to the extermination of cockroaches — so when we try our vainest to locate this elusive commodity, we are indirectly setting ourselves up for failure because no matter how perfect they seem, there will always be something that isn’t quite the way we want it. They may have the exterior of Adonis and the bottomless pockets of King Solomon, but lack the ambition of even the most common paperboy.

But when we convince ourselves to be content with the person we already have and just work our damnedest to make the best of it, how do we remain happy with them in the long term? We are so exhausted from extricating ourselves from one failed relationship after another that in the end, we are just grateful to have someone who, even after several years, still seems to be the only one willing to volunteer for the job. And yet, in the end, when we can no longer ignore the flaws and have to accept that they will always be there, how can we bring ourselves to up and abandon the only kind of normal relationship we have ever known?

When I was younger (i.e. stupider and more idealistic), I was prepared to search and wait for what I thought would be the right, if not perfect, person for me. And so I waited, I hoped, and I brought myself so far below the point of humility and dignity that I began to fear that even if it worked out the way I wanted, I would always wonder if he was secretly second-guessing his decision to be with me. That was when I realized that if I were reaching so far beyond my means and actually succeeded, he would merely be settling for me because I was the only one willing to claw the air for him.

And now, having hit the age of 26 five days ago and still being nowhere near where I hoped I would be at 26, I realize that life is too short to be wimmeling around in the haystack, and that in the end, it’s always better to be grateful for what has been given to us, because it’s what we make of it that matters the most. It may be a form of settling, but it still requires a great deal of reaching.

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