Don’t Settle

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When I was in college, there were lounges in each of the male and female dorms. Sometimes, when a guy was interested in a girl, he’d come to the female lounge to hang out on the couch and watch TV with her. My friends and I called this “couch dating.” It required zero effort from the guys, and of course most of those relationships never went anywhere.

If you’re looking for an amazing love story and not just a couch date, be careful not to send the message that a potential mate doesn’t have to make any effort with you. Don’t accept zero effort from a guy in the beginning of a relationship and assume that things will change down the road. A guy who gets away with zero effort dating in the beginning isn’t likely to suddenly start making an effort once you get serious about each other or even after you’re married.

If you’re looking for an amazing love story and not just a couch date, be careful not to send the message that a potential mate doesn’t have to make any effort with you

If you don’t have a standard for what you’re looking for in a marriage partner, you’re more likely to settle for anything. Settling is the opposite of intentionality. It’s committing yourself to someone you don’t experience a true connection with for one reason or another. The most critical thing to know is that if you do settle, this is the way it’s going to stay. Don’t expect things to magically change once you get married. You will still be the same person, and so will your spouse. The only difference will be that now you’re committed to staying together and loving each other for life.

Whether or not you settle is your choice, but when you know that God has someone you’ll connect with on a much deeper and more meaningful level, why would you? Following are some of the most common reasons I’ve heard for people to settle.

“I Don’t Believe I Deserve Better

Some people settle because they don’t believe they deserve to experience a true godly love. If you don’t believe God has someone for you or that you even deserve this type of love, then your focus needs to be on issues that are more critical than whether not to settle. Don’t even worry about being in a relationship right now. Until you heal and develop a positive feeling of self-worth, a healthy relationship or marriage is completely out of the question. Don’t be ashamed about asking for help. I had to do the same thing, and there are tons of people out there who should be doing this but choose not to. Facing your issues and taking the time to heal puts you a step ahead, not behind.

Get more — Free! e-book — Les & Leslie Parrott's, The Good Fight

“I Don’t Believe It Exists

If a feeling of self-worth isn’t an issue for you, but you still have doubts about whether or not a happy marriage is possible, maybe you grew up witnessing an unhealthy picture of love and marriage. After witnessing my parents’ toxic marriage, I was curious to find out if there was something better out there. I looked at other couples who seemed happy, from my third grade teacher to random people at the grocery store. I grabbed little bits and pieces from each of them and used them to patch together my own image of what marriage could and should be instead of settling for a mirror image of the unhealthy marriage I grew up in. Something powerful I’ve heard from a lot of pastors is, “Your world is not the world.” There’s so much more out there than anything you’ve personally seen or experienced. If your world has shown you a dark or negative version of marriage, actively seek another perspective. Maybe there’s a happily married older couple who could serve as mentors or a counselor who can help you heal from what you’ve seen in the past and show you that there is something better out there.

“I Don’t Want to Wait

Have you ever noticed that when people get together regularly as a group—at school, work, or church—they start to look at the members of the opposite sex in their group for the best option in the bunch? Pretty soon, they pick one and start to have “feelings” for that person. But does proximity really make someone the right person for you? The one you’ll share a true connection with might be a world way or even a few years down the road. Sure, your future spouse might be at your school, workplace, or church, but he or she may very well not be.

When you meet someone and start developing feelings for this person, it’s important not to let those feelings get ahead of your logic. Being intentional means filtering your emotions through your logic, not the other way around.

Sure, you can develop crushes on people. There’s nothing wrong with that. You just need to give yourself time to see whether those feelings will grow or fade. Keep it in the “friend” zone for five weeks or so, and then see what happens. After about five weeks, you’ll have a pretty clear idea of whether or not this person really deserves more of your time. If you jump into a relationship with someone right away, your feelings might override your logic. When your feelings are in charge, it becomes too easy to get swept away and end up with someone who isn’t right for you. The result is settling, even if that’s not what it feels like at the moment. The Bible warns us in Jeremiah 17:9 that the heart can be deceptive. In James 1:5 we’re told God will give generously if we pray for wisdom. If we put our feelings in charge of major decisions, instead of wisdom and logic, they can too easily bulldoze right over the truth of the situation. Give it time to see if that person you have feelings for is worth settling—or striving—for.

Excerpted from The One: An Amazing Love Story Starts With You by Ryan and Amanda Leak. Copyright © 2015 by Ryan and Amanda Leak. Excerpted by permission of WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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