Whether it’s the inability to find someone worthwhile, or feeling stuck in a relationship – what do you do when nobody is good enough for you?
This one comes to you on the other side of some exciting personal news. I’ve recently gotten engaged in the last week or so, and Walking The Shoreline has had over 400,000 visitors! I am truly humbled by all the visitors I’ve had over the last few years, as well as all the messages I get from all across the world of how a few simple words from me have fostered some thought and even some life changing decisions. One of my absolute favourite sorts of messages and conversations have been about how people have seen their marriages and relationships turn around for the better. I love hearing any of those sorts of stories, so make sure you drop me a line on my Facebook page!
I remember one such in-person conversation I had a number of years ago pertaining to a blog I wrote on “defining eligibility“. Essentially, the post was about how the perceived man drought may actually be a reflection on what is defined as eligible rather than how many people are not eligible. Perception vs. reality. Having challenged her own perceptions based on some thought starters I’d written down, my friend was soon passed some of her pre-conceived notions, started dating a great guy and years later they now have a child together and a respected marriage.
I recently looked at a startling statistic arising from recent census data and a 2014 Pew Research report highlighting that the number of people choosing to remain single has skyrocketed into the realms over 20% in both Australia (my home country) and the USA. It seems like the number of people choosing to remain single is on an ever increasing upward trajectory. And there are many factors that may contribute to such a phenomenon. There are many broken hearts, broken relationships, broken people, general brokenness that leads people to becoming or staying single. I’ve had numerous friends who have all taken similar approaches to the way they treat people and dating and marriage and all had completely different results. It’s because you’re dealing with people with free choice. People have the ability to change their mind about a relationship before, during, and after it commences.
We’ve had a look at some related topics around this one before. About finding healing and moving on from the past and about staying committed and about things we say we mean but what we actually mean.
But this time I thought it’d be good to have a look at the extreme statement that nobody is good enough for you. I believe this attitude that nobody is good enough stems from several potential origins. Here’s a few for thought.
NB. Whilst this is an attitude that can be an obstacle to finding someone, I’ve heard many dating and married people share the same sentiments.
The individual reigns
We live in a highly individualistic society. Rather than being about the team or the partnership or the companionship, our world at an ever increasing rate tries to sell the idea that you can make it on your own.
And many of us buy into the hype. People will leave great, established brands, companies, and organisations, and attempt to start their own thing. I do love people finding their own place, but there’s something to be said about the power of joining a solution already in progress. There’s a power in together that can simply not be matched when we’re alone. Even if you do establish your own thing, you soon realise it’s going to take engaging several brilliant minds and people of various abilities and talents to construct anything lasting or worthwhile.
And yet relationally we still tend towards the approach of an island. Of a single construct, one dream, a single life driving the ship.
For some reason, we think fewer friends and a lack of companionship is an asset to our life ventures.
I think believing that people as obstacles rather than partners is the root of this view. Ultimately, you just don’t trust someone to pull their own weight, but rather only weigh you down instead.
Overcompensating for deep pain
There are a lot of hurtful circumstances out there in our world. Many people come from a family of origin whereby they simply don’t trust people anymore. Their views were overlooked, their ideas weren’t heard, they felt like a liability in their own home. People have had difficult breakups in the past. Sexual assault and abuse run rampant.
And so in response to these situations, we form extremely pointed lists that spell out exactly what a man or woman should or shouldn’t be. If we’ve been lied to, we don’t want a liar. That’s fair enough. I’m actually surprised that we need to spell out that we don’t want to marry a liar, but it’s just an example of something we form a notion about.
But then someone breaks our trust. Someone makes promises they can’t keep. Okay, in addition to no lies, you become skeptical and defensive about people who make any promises.
And then a friend decides to move on and drop contact with us. Okay, now we’re feeling unwanted. Any one who has the potential to make us feel unwanted is now off our potential list.
Unfortunately the extremes mean we have so many defences and hoops and provisos that no one can ever compete with them. In our overreaction, we’ve locked the door to all people. Even you don’t fulfill your own wish list.
And so of course nobody is good enough for us – they don’t satisfy the list of 68 landmines that they’re not allowed to step on.
Humans are frail. We hurt each other.
A horrible truth that none of us think about is that you are the monster in somebody else’s story. You’re the one who broke trust, you’re the friend who wasn’t there, you’re the husband or wife, the girlfriend or boyfriend, who said things you didn’t do.
Now I’m not trying to defend habitual liars or say we should be completely open to destructive personalities. But what I am saying is that we need to make sure we don’t have extremely narrow, super impossible requirements simply in response to past pain.
Trust should be earned. I definitely believe that. But if someone has demonstrated continually that they are worthwhile, consistent, and a good decision, we really should be questioning why after months and months of a person’s efforts, that we still consider them unworthy.
We can get to it “one day”
I am seriously blown away by the number of people over 25 who have never been actively involved in a relationship. By this I mean, never initiated, or never said yes, to a potential suitor. I’m not talking about people who have asked people out or explored relationships with people. I’m talking about people who have been closed off to the idea all throughout their adult life thus far. It’s not usually from a healthy place that that decision is being made.
I read a very controversial article a number of weeks ago about sexual market value (or SMV). The author/s were making a point that the attractiveness of a person as a potential mate/partner fluctuate over time. They made a bold statement that a man’s SMV increases with age, and a woman’s SMV decreases. While I don’t agree with the sentiment personally, I can definitely see that popular culture subscribes to this idea. I recently saw the new Avengers movie that pairs an older man with an under-30 year old lady. As does a huge number of movies made in the last 20 years to be honest.
The point I think that can be definitely agreed on is that we don’t have as much time as we think.
The opportunities you have today, you may not have tomorrow. The people and types of people who are available this week may not be available next week. Putting the decision off rather precariously narrows the number of options later on.
I was asked recently if I could suggest a potential male partner for someone. After running through the list of men I knew, and knew well, I realized that almost all of them were either dating, engaged, or married. Excellent men, yes, but definitely not available.
But I’ve even seen this attitude within people’s marriages. There’s an illusion of choice. And people will lose the choice they once made for a chance of a choice they could make. But life doesn’t always go that way. You may bail out of something great for the hope of something amazing, and then realize that it was just a hope. Ironically, the majority of times I have seen people bail out of a dating, engaged, or even a marriage relationship, it is usually the one who was bailed on who ends up better off. Probably because they most likely had the attitude of staying power rather than believing that I can have whatever fish in the sea I want.
I guess we may say that nobody is good enough because there’s the illusion that one day later there’ll be someone magical out there. I know many people in their 40s, 50s, and even 60s who have clung to this mentality through life… and unfortunately that’s all they are clinging to. It makes it very difficult for anyone to attempt to build relationship with them without enormous pressure, and it keeps them from taking a chance on something that could very well be what they were waiting for.
Decisions drive relationship. Where are your decisions driving you?
PG-rated and R-rated pornography
When you think of the P word, what do you think of? I think of a fantasy image of something that ticks all the boxes, but doesn’t really exist in reality.
The thing is, I don’t think pornography is simply the super sexy stuff, although that’s definitely included. I think by the definition above it’s also the chick flick that shows a man who can address every insecurity in your life, kind, rich, six pack, and mysterious. I think of the movie that portrays the woman without an independent thought who will follow you everywhere and always say “yes sir”. And yes, I also think of the airbrushed 40 minute impossible acrobatics with multiple takes that make up the adult film industry.
No matter what type it is, the issue is that no one can compete with fantasy. And maybe that’s why nobody is good enough. It’s because your standard isn’t real. Your ideal relationship is a fallacy. Your hopes and dreams are pinned to something that only exists when 5-150 people sit down and work on an immaculate project with lights, camera, action.
Are you able to recognize something real?
A recognition problem
I think ultimately, single or taken, we’re faced with a recognition problem when we feel like nobody is good enough for us.
What does a millionaire look like when they’re 50? Probably owning a few properties, juggling a few businesses, enjoying their spare time being able to do really whatever they want. How about a 40 year old millionaire? Maybe a few less properties. How about a 30 year old millionaire?
How about when they’re 20?
You want a millionaire, but it becomes much harder to recognize before the artifacts start to show themselves.
How do you recognize a great mother when she doesn’t have any kids yet? How do you identify a man who’ll make a great husband when he’s single? How can you see a worthwhile life long partner if you can’t see how they treat someone in those situations?
I would like to challenge your perception and say that you do know people like that. It might look like that guy you haven’t given a chance yet. Maybe it looks like the girl you’ve known for a while. Perhaps it looks like your husband or your wife, they’ve just gotten lost.
Or perhaps you’re just not really looking. Or maybe you’re just not as grateful as you need to be to recognize greatness.
I’m not saying go ahead and give every single person on earth a chance. I’m not saying run back to an abuser. I’m not saying put yourself in danger. But I am saying that there definitely are a few people who might be worthwhile and I would love you, urge you, beg you, to look and see reality.
And if you are in a relationship, you’ve chosen someone, you’re in – keep choosing them. Keep seeing the greatness inside of them. Remember why you chose them in the first place. You may be on the brink of discovering the best person to be your help meet – and you might discover they’re already with you.
What does the perfect husband or wife look like? It might look like your spouse when you invest in them and love them with your heart, mind, and strength.
Or it might be that old friend, that persistent girl, that guy who has a different package than what you expected, waiting for you to give it a go.
I am super grateful for my fiance. She is a truly wonderful woman. And yet even now there could be a potential in me to miss the greatness of who she is. What a mistake that would be.
I think all of us face the same danger. We think we’re better than we are, and we think people are worse than they are, and in doing so can miss the best thing in our lives thinking that nobody is good enough for us.
Love isn’t one choice. It’s a life of continued choice. Make it, and continue to make it. There’s nothing more powerful than a person who knows they’re loved. What a beautiful role we can play in someone else’s life to be that person for them.
How about you? Have you faced this challenge before? What do you do when nobody is good enough for you?