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Six Signs You’re Settling for Second Best

Singles looking for lasting love should hold out for the very best. Here’s how to know if you’re lowering your standards.

You are irrationally irritated by the "little stuff" your partner does.

In the early stages of falling in love, people usually see only the best in each other. We develop a blissful blindness that filters out minor quirks and flaws. If that mechanism isn't working for you, watch out! Maddening behaviors will only multiply and magnify with time.

You are increasingly nostalgic for weekends and evenings alone.

Another telltale trait of a "very best" relationship is that you can't bear to be apart for a second longer than necessary. But what if you secretly relish the idea of a Friday night by yourself? And then another Friday night by yourself? No doubt about it: If you already feel ho-hum about time spent with your current partner, you're settling.

You tell yourself you're racing the clock for one last shot at love.

It's easy to lower your standards when you believe the only alternative is a lifetime of loneliness. Don't do it! There is no such thing as a romantic "last chance." Resist the temptation to let some perceived ticking clock"”biological or otherwise"”convince you to compromise.

You see your relationship as a rescue operation.

You know you're in danger of settling the moment you make a "to-do" list of things you'd like to help your partner improve upon: lose weight, stop smoking, be more outgoing, find a better job, and so forth. The best person for you will not feel like a fixer-upper.

You pointedly decide to overlook your partner's flaws.

Some settlers skip over rehabilitation and go straight to resignation. But denial is not the basis for a healthy, lasting union. If you've told yourself a problematic relationship is "as good as it gets," snap out of it!

You routinely make excuses for your partner to others.

Listen carefully to what you tell friends and family members about the person you're dating. It's a red flag if you find yourself rationalizing his/her shortcomings: "He's overcome a lot...She's going through a rough patch...He didn't have good role models." When you've found the one who is right for you, the statements will sound more like this: "He is so creative! She really understands me! We have so much in common!" You know better than anyone what you dream of in a life partner. Don't be stingy with yourself. Hold out for the very best.

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