Why do we end up settling for the wrong person!

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Why do we end up settling for the wrong person!

Given that this is by far the most important thing in life to get right, how is it possible that so many good, smart, logical people end up choosing a life partnership that leaves them dissatisfied and unhappy?

Quite honestly, settling for the wrong person is probably the easiest yet costliest mistake we make.  In the great scheme of life this mistakes places a burden on the individuals involved, their family, the country and the next generation; the ramifications are enormous. It is obviously crucial that marrying intelligently is a skill that needs to be addressed.

There is no such thing as a perfect match, we are humans and flawed and learn things about ourselves through time and during certain conditions and events.

The reasons why people end up settling for the wrong person tend to fall into some of the following categories:

1.    Poor self knowledge

We never look for someone who best suits our ‘temperament’ in order to be happy. We vaguely know we want someone who is kind, fun, attractive, good sense of humour, secure and ambitious.

We all have idiosyncrasies, hang-ups and have different degrees of immaturity.These issues if not resolved or at least understood well can become a source of tension in a relationship. It might be that you or the person you settled for has problems expressing their emotions, or they feel awkward expressing intimacy after sex, or angers at no apparent reason or takes offense at meaningless incidents. These issues in the long run, if not initially identified and understood, can become a time bomb waiting to explode.

The biggest problem is identifying these hang-ups because only certain situations that we will confront much later will reveal them and unfortunately we might already be in a relationship already.

Marriage or a long relationship bring new challenge that expose and highlight our hang-ups and we too often blame the other person and call it quits. We often believe we are easy to live with until we meet and live with someone else who has their own issues and their issues and yours clash and bring out the ‘worst’ in us.

With such poor understanding of our characters no wonder we don’t know who best suits us.

2.    We don’t understand other people

The problem is worse as we become involved with people who know very little about themselves too and are unable to tell us what is wrong with them. We usually strive to get to know the person we met by meeting their family, friends, getting to know where they are from, and their socioeconomic background. All these steps deluding us into believing we are getting a better sense of who our partner is but it is not nearly enough.

Frankly to marry someone we need to better understand our partner’s psyche. We need to know their attitudes to: authority, humiliation, introspection, sexual intimacy, projection, money, children, aging, fidelity and many other things. To attain the answers to these will not spring from normal chat.

In absence of these answers all we are left with is our partners’ appearance, which might be very pleasing to us, and our projection of what we wish our partners to be to us in the future.

3.    Are we looking for happiness or familiarity

We believe we are looking for happiness in love, but maybe we are looking for familiarity. We first come to understand what happiness is in childhood and it is very intertwined with other subtleties of being controlled, feeling humiliated, being abandoned, never communicating, etc.  Resulting in mixed emotions and creating confusion, true happiness stands away from familiarity, however we continuously look for familiarity this is partly to blame for our failure to find happiness.

Therefore when we encounter a potentially good candidate who is too mature, too understanding, too reliable, a well-balanced person we discard him or her because they create feelings of unfamiliarity. We pursue someone who will frustrate us but in a familiar way.

We move to marrying the wrong people because the right people feel wrong because we have no experience with being love with feeling satisfied.

4.    Being single is awful

Our society is scared of remaining single; remaining single forever is seen as a verdict perpetual hell. People just don’t want to be alone and sometimes this drives them to make bad decisions on who they marry. Sexual revolution pushed away the need to marry to get to have sex and now we need to liberate ‘companionship’ from the shackles of coupledom and make it widely available too so people don’t marry because they are afraid to be alone.

5.    Instinct vs. analytical scrutiny 

In the old days marriage was the joining of similar wealth and it was soon to ne perceived as a negative way to couple. What came to replace this old manner of joining couples was the romantic marriage that we practice to today – decision to marry is based on how you feel about someone. Feelings rather than logic were believed to ensure happiness in marriage. Well, not entirely as divorce rates skyrocket and more children are leaving in complex family units.

Maybe we should look for a more analytical manner of coupling, unromantic maybe, but it might be the answer to putting a stop to all the current problems of divorce and broken family units.

6.    There is no such thing a ‘School for love’

Perhaps the time for marriage of psychology should materialize. Where one doesn’t marry for land or for feelings alone, but only when couples who are in love are submitted to examination and brought to recognize their own and their partner’s psychology.

7.    Permanence of happiness

We carry the belief that once we marry we are going to live in a permanent state of bliss and happiness. Those heightened feelings you had in your trip together to Greece or the feelings you experienced in your engagement party and your wedding party are none to be a permanent feature in your married life. Marriage doesn’t keep your relationship at this beautiful stage, as a matter of fact marriage brings in new challenges – suburbia, mortgage, kids – ingredients that were not there at first and elements that propel your relationship into a new direction. The only thing that remained unchanged is your partner and at times not the right ingredient.

We need to come to terms that happiness is short bursts of moments of satisfaction that disappear and more will come around. Happiness like the waves at sea rise and peak and come crushing down only for new ones to reappear, such is the nature of happiness it has no permanence. Much like it we need to learn to appreciate moments of happiness in marriage.

8.    We think we are the exception to the rule

The divorce statistics are sadly discouraging. We have seen and heard of friends, family who have married and come uncoupled. Marriage is an institute that has many challenges yet the optimist in us cannot see this as a warning to better prepare, we are unique and these rules don’t apply to us. Only time will tell.

9.    We tire of love

After many rounds at trying our hands at love we give up at the exhausting game of falling in love and out of love again and again. Marriage seems like the new challenge that we are ready for and that it will give us stability, emotionally and physically. However, marriage just like being single transpires a lot of doubts, hope, fear, rejection and betrayal. What seems at first to be the shot at peace and quiet can become just as fuelled with a lot of uncertainty, anger and disappointment.

It is obvious that the institution of the ‘romantic marriage’ is crumbling away just as the ‘marriage of convenience’ had before it. Maybe now it’s time for the psychological marriage to better prepare us for marriage.



Tina is a DailyStar senior writer. She graduated from Edith Cowan University. Writing has always been something she enjoyed. Her positive outlook colours every aspect of her life. Her motto -Life’s too short so get living.

When she’s not busy writing, Tina is exploring the city she adores, running in her local Park every day, drinking an absurd amount of coffee, taking care of an adorable pup, kids and traveling.

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