Don’t Settle for Less: What Does That Really Mean?

she says don't settle for less

Are you not willing to settle in your love life?

Does it seem like there are no good ones out there? Do you find yourself dating men and then backing out of seeing them because of various defects? This guy is too cynical; that one has bad teeth; the other anxiously spilled his Macchiato all over his shirt. If you’re honest, pretty much every guy who has expressed an interest in you has had something “wrong” with him. But, you keep reminding yourself that you’re not willing to settle.

So what does don’t settle for less mean?  you wonder.  You’re unhappy in your dating life. And you’re not alone. Countless women struggle with this common and most self-sabotaging dead-end pattern that I describe in my book, Love in 90 Days.

Don’t Settle for Less: The Not Perfect-I’ll Pass Dead-End Dating Pattern

Women can be picky, picky, picky when it comes to their suitors. They practice what I call the laws of repulsion, sitting on their high horses and judging the man’s physical qualities or behavioral traits. This guy is too paunchy, too bald, too old, too young, or even too good looking; that one has hands that are just too small. Other deal breakers: bad taste in music, a cheesy sense of humor, loves me too much, or is too predictable. One perfectly intelligent, accomplished single-for-a-longtime gal recently told me that she could tell just by hearing a guy’s name that he was wrong for her. And it was not some bizarre moniker.

The negative judgments spewing from this self-sabotaging belief are usually based on superficial traits. You become an expert in getting rid of all those defective “bad guys” who could never be the One. You tell yourself it’s because you’re not willing to settle. But guess what? These complaints—including the typical ones that I’ve listed above—have nothing to do with the qualities that make for a partner who can provide lasting love and happiness. Study after study has shown that the most important variables leading to happy relationships and marriages are a guy’s (and your) character virtues, especially empathy, concern for others, and willingness to grow. So not only did you ditch the “bad” ones, but you threw out the good ones, the great ones, and all the in-between ones, too!

Don’t Settle for Less: Projection of One’s Own Inadequacy?

Curious what’s behind this self-sabotaging dead-end dating pattern of not being willing to settle? You may have trouble hearing this, but bear with me and just try it on for size: You may be unconsciously projecting your own feelings of inadequacy onto each guy you meet or date. The flaw in them becomes blinding, completely and totally turning you off. You run. And your reactions may be nothing more than defensive maneuvers designed to guard against being rejected yourself. Then you wonder why there are no good guys out there. I know, I know, this last part is not really you.

Don’t Settle for Less: Research Shows it is Contempt that Kills off the Possibility of Love.

Instead of being nitpicking and acting out of these laws of repulsion, it is important that you change your perception. Yes you change.  Just try it for a day!  Here’s how: Notice what is really at a guy’s core in terms of his values and character.

If you don’t, your relationship-killer belief and the attitudes associated with it may set up a whole host of negative vibes. As well as emasculating and cold, bitchy behavior that has men heading for the hills. Trust me most great men who are looking for a long-term relationship don’t want that. What they really want is warmth.

If you have the don’t-settle-for-less dating pattern, you could have already thrown away perfectly great guys, any one of whom would have brought you happiness.

Don’t Settle for Less: The Case of Rachel

Rachel was stuck in the Don’t-Settle-for-Less trap. Here’s how she describes her defensive pattern in a past relationship:

I want someone rich and I meet a lot of rich guys, but most seem sleazy to me. In my late twenties, I got very serious with this banker and we had great sex but I held my feelings back. He wasn’t what I’d imagined my man would be; he was heavyset and starting to bald. But he was crazy about me. After six months I really let myself fall for him and he proposed to me. And after that I screwed everything up. One day I started a fight over money: he had gotten a small bonus at work and he was very upset. I wasn’t sympathetic at all and instead freaked out because we wouldn’t be able to rent the perfect apartment I had found. We broke up and I’ve been sorry ever since.

Through our work together Rachel realized that she was hiding something from herself. That the desire to be with a rich guy filled her with shame and a feeling that she was sleazy. She inadvertently projected those feelings onto her relationships as criticisms, which ultimately left her feeling turned off. As a sage once said, “Your fellow is your mirror. If your own face is clean, so will be the image you perceive. But should you look upon your fellow and see a blemish, it is your own imperfection that you are encountering—you are being shown what it is that you must correct within yourself.”  Just ponder this for a minute.  It could totally change your love life!

Don’t Settle for Less: How Rachel Overcame Her Not-Perfect I’ll Pass Attitude

In her coaching sessions, Rachel learned to observe the voice that was hypercritical of her. That led to not projecting as much. For example, if you start feeling turned off when he spills his coffee, as you help him find some napkins to clean up the mess, say to yourself, I’m being picky and critical in some way of myself, just like my mother (or father). Even though this feels strange, it will change the way you look at men. This pattern is a manifestation of you being critical of you and is surely a reflection of some harsh, picky parenting you had along the way.

While usually you are the one who does most of the rejecting, some guys sense when you are in this one-up, judgmental pattern and will abandon you before you reject them.

Don’t Settle for Less: Rachel’s Breakthrough

Rachel wrote this description about a guy who dumped her.

Mitchell is very insecure and needs someone to make him feel secure and special. He knew he was going to have to step up with a girl like me and he wasn’t up for the challenge. He even realized that I was too good for him and that he couldn’t put things over on me. Also, that I wasn’t going to buy into his dramas. He knew he had met a match above his head and so he had to walk.

I just had some realizations as I write this: I think I frequently make up a defensive story about how the guy is no good in my head. It is my way of avoiding that idea that I was rejected and the guy just wasn’t that into me. Ouch. Maybe I need to just accept that I was rejected, feel it and move on.

I think that I could actually be a little softer and more forgiving. I can be too critical and expect a lot. That is why I need persistent pushy guys. They need to prove themselves to me and then I will let my guard down and move mountains for them. I need to be forgiving early on. The wall I put up is my own protective measure.

Rachel finally came to her senses and stopped listening to the voice that said, don’t settle for less. She gave a real chance to a very caring guy who was “not her type.” They are happily married.

Don’t Settle for Less: Give Someone a Real Chance

So, here’s my challenge to you. Commit to giving the guys who express an interest in you a real chance. Even if it is just for a week or a month or 90 days! See what wonderful qualities and true loving experiences emerge.

So, the next time you find yourself thinking, I’m not willing to settle.  Instead of turning off try a better way. Focus instead on something you like about the guy. Especially if he is willing to grow as a person. If you spark chemistry with him, he could become a better and better match for you over time.

Remember, love often comes in a surprise package!

RELATED POST: Do You Need A Love Coach? Six Signs You Do

find mr. right this year
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Sign up here for a powerful gift!

FREE Top-Tier Love Strategy Session!

Limited time offer

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.


Are you a successful woman who is tired of having NO good men to date?  THIS  is for you!

Hi, I'm Dr. Diana Kirschner. My team and I have helped thousands of successful single women, including judges, famous shrinks, CEOs, philanthropists, Directors, professors, and celebrities like Hoda Kotb from The Today Show to find a high-quality man who understands, appreciates and cherishes them, and I'm confident we can help YOU too!

I'm a PBS Love expert and psychologist who has appeared on Oprah, the Today Show and in an Amazon Prime show, Love in 90 Days based on my bestseller Love in 90 Days.  My work has been featured in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, ABC, People, and NPR.

I specialize in helping high-caliber women create feminine self-confidence, dating success, and passionate love matches.

I want to do everything I can to give you hands-on personalized support that will make a lasting difference!

That's why I'm excited to offer a FREE Top-Tier Love Strategy Session via Zoom or phone with one of my gifted coaches.

During your powerful and dynamic one-on-one session, we will help you with your unique dating situation. You'll walk away refreshed and inspired, with a clear step-by-step path forward to move through any obstacles and get the top-tier love you want.  And deserve!

"I followed the program and enjoyed the process. I appreciate Dr. Diana planting very helpful seeds!"
-Hoda Kotb, The Today Show

Here's what women like you are saying:

"My love strategy session helped me to meet a really high-caliber guy!  In it I learned how to tweak my profile to attract great matches.  And my boyfriend is the best!  We are having a blast building our dream house and planning for a cruise to Tahiti ! -Darla, Psychologist & Author

matchmaker, dating coach, dating tips, dating & relationship advice"I was fifty-two years old with a career that was enviably successful. But my love life was not. And I couldn't figure out why. As my love mentor, Diana helped me understand that I not only deserved to have but could have a strong, loving life partner who would always be there for me.  I found true love in three months! And after 4 plus years of marriage, my husband and I still pinch ourselves every day to make sure that it's not a dream!" - Midge Woolsey, PBS Pledge Host

Leave a Comment