Why we settle

I see that so many people are unhappy in their situations. But they are afraid to ask for more. They are afraid to wait for more. They’ve been devalued and shown that they aren’t deserving of the Real Thing. So, they settle.

What did I do wrong? they ask themselves. What did they do to deserve being treated like they weren’t worthy of love. They convince themselves they asked too much of someone. That somehow they didn’t read the room, that maybe they were wrong to believe someone at face value who told them they respected them. Someone who made a connection with them and said they would sit with them through the storm. How were they to know they were one of several that had been promised the same thing?

That opening up was their mistake. Showing vulnerability was a weakness. Believing that someone could ever be there for them uncondtionally, asking nothing of them. Mutually.

Then trust became a weapon. You believed you were safe with them. Until you weren’t any more special than the next person. And there’s always a next person.

We realized what fucking fools we were for that. So you settle for what you think you deserve because that’s all you’ve ever gotten. You see the same in other conversations.

Hey you up? What you doing? Mmmmm. Heart emojis. Reactions. Comments on your social media. “I’ll be right over. Lol.” Always the fucking LOL after something that no one would laugh at. Some empty throwaway comment. You see that now for what it was. A language to feign interest while they were engaged in some bullshit they never cared about. A dialog. A dance people know the steps to and nothing more. As deep as a fucking teaspoon.

So you settle. Because it’s all “lol” and “you up?”

Only you don’t want that. You never did. You want someone who says they are sending hugs and actually mean it. You were wrong. So you settle because nobody means it. You are the recipient of emotional hand-me-downs. The life has long been boiled out of that heart. Yours is still fresh and gooey and you wear it on your sleeve and bleed all over everyone.

You settle because none of it means anything, so who fucking cares. You can fool yourself that it reminds you of a time when any of it meant something. You are unfaithful to the one you settled for because it just brings back memories of a time when it was real.

Was it real?

I saw a tiktok of a woman who was talking about leaving her situationship and the next day she was already on dating apps. People just keep cutting each other on their sharp edges because they never allow themselves to heal. Faking it just long enough to dupe some poor bastard until you both have settled. Struggling under the weight of your baggage. Lying from the start. False vulnerability.

When you do the work, you often feel more alone because everyone else is the island of broken toys. And nobody else can say “Yes, I allowed myself to heal. I got out of the place that was hurting me to heal.” You become that rare creature, almost healed. Too weird to live, too rare to die.

So you settle. You walk back into that wasteland of fucked up, broken people. You settle because you get lonely sometimes. And if you just close off that part of you that still has hope that there are others like you out there you won’t feel like the only living boy in New York.

But you settle. You think “Just long enough to not be bored. To not drive myself crazy.” Just a taste to remind myself of how good things might have been. Forget about the hangover. Try not to remember the last time you let yourself sink.

You settle and descend back to the bottom of a dark pool, looking up at starlight between the silouettes of sharks.

You settle because looking for something real isn’t worth it. You never know how real something was until you’ve lost it.