The Good Parenting Guide to Christmas-after-Divorce
Here's some commentary warning that many single women set their sights unrealistically high!
If I hear one more feeble excuse from a single woman about how there "aren't any good men out there" I'm going to pull my hair out! You see I coach many singles that for one reason or another don't have successful relationships. What I’ve detected over recent years is a common theme in their unsuccessful love-lives that has little to do with the quality of available men. I've decided to call this the "I Won’t Settle" generation and the fact that recent National Statistics show one women in three is single at the age of 35 supports this.
Many women in this 30-and 40-something generation of singles have bought into a romantic myth that there is the perfect partner who can attend to every need and desire. A man must be successful, attractive, charismatic, and intelligent. Let's not forget he must also have a GSOH (that's "good sense of humour" in singles-speak), get along with her friends, her family, and boost her self-worth, make her feel loved and sexually desirable.
It doesn't stop there as he must be her “best friend” (you wouldn’t lumber a best friend with these unrealistic expectations!) and soul mate. As well as a strong man capable of wrapping supportive arms around her when she's feeling vulnerable.
Wouldn't we all love one of these mythical creatures to make us feel wonderful every day? He could fix any problem from DIY to how-to-dress, always having a solution for "bums that look too big"! Feeling down? He’ll pep you up. On a high? He’d celebrate your success. Sorry, but this mythical man doesn't exist. They’re actually like us - fallible human beings. I'm tempted to ask these women to look in the mirror and decide whether they’re so perfect. Do they have every one of these qualities themselves that they expect in men?
What's happened in this "Won’t Settle" generation is the word "settle" has incredibly negative connotations. It's associated with previous generations’ notions that you compromised because being left on the shelf wasn’t an option. Many a happy relationship was based on compromise! It’s time women rethink this word “settle” and reframe it into being “realistic”. They should start being realistic about what a man can and can’t offer. It's not about settling for someone who's mad or bad, but about loving a man warts-and-all, knowing that no one can meet these extraordinarily high expectations.
I don't find this phenomenon in men anywhere nearly so frequently. Most have a more realistic view of what to expect from a woman. They’ll “settle” for a GSOH - if you laughed at his jokes he'll be happy!
A tragic aspect of this is the women who've lumbered themselves with their own expectations and end up finding out too late they’re infertile when they would've dearly loved having children. Or with perfect 20-20 hindsight-vision they’re riddled with regrets over letting some great men slip through their fingers. They ask if they’ll have another chance (I can’t read the future!), if they should ring up that ex, or if they’re somehow flawed when it comes to finding love.
The irony is many of these women still put on a big facade that they’re happy being single at, e.g., 40, with a "wouldn't change it for the world" attitude that's off-putting to the good men they meet.
If this rings a bell, try these key things:
* Be aware of insecurities that mean you scratch a man off your "Mr Possible" list because actually you’re a bit scared of committing yourself.
* Reconsider your "Romantic Checklist" – that unrealistic list that he must have the bank balance of Roman Abramovich and the looks of Brad Pitt or he doesn't get a look-in.
* Don't overlook the man right under your nose - like that quiet colleague. He might shine given half a chance!
* Dump your pride and let friends/acquaintances know you're looking to meet someone. Doing this doesn't make you appear sad and single - unless you act that way!
* Go for the opposite of the "type" you usually go for it - you may surprise yourself.
* Compromise when first dating someone new. We’re so used to getting things our way that you may well be a "me, me, won't settle" that simply needs to learn a little give and take.
* Remind yourself of your own imperfections so you can see past his. Obviously never accept second-rate treatment but just because he doesn't think to send you flowers after a hot date and know what to do when you've got PMS, you shouldn't rule him out.
* Take responsibility for your part of a relationship. You might be guilty of expecting him to look after your needs - and those of a new relationship - when you should be looking after your own.
It may seem incredible that many women need such advice so where has this "Won't
Settle" generation come from? The simple answer is that it's come from our bare-your-soul society where we have a free-for-all when it comes to our feelings. Our feelings have become the focus of everything, making us incredibly self-centred in relationships. Whatever happened to the "us" and "we" when it came to relationships? They've been gobbled up by the "my needs come first", and "I'm the most important person in this" attitudes.
It’s not that simple, though. Add in factors like we expect instant gratification in our 24-hour society. So if you're not instantly happy with a man - he won't do. Staying power has all but disappeared. Also the glossies have a part to play always talking about the perfect relationship where all your needs are met. We live in airbrushed, celebrity-led times where we want everything to be perfect like those beautifully-styled stars we look up to.
Peel back the shallow veneer and you'll find fallible human beings underneath the celebrity-glitz. If only we could stop believing such hype and live in the real world. My coaching practise might all but dry up with the lack of “Won’t Settle” singles - but I'd settle for that!
Published in The Express Newspaper
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