Should I settle for less?

Unhappy Couple On Bed

As young girls, we fantasise about the kind of man we want to marry. We have a vivid mental picture about what the man who will sweep us off our feet will be like, and those thoughts fill our day dreaming moments. As we grow, these fantasies become more grounded in reality. We are not necessarily looking for a Boris Kodjoe lookalike, neither does he have to have a house on Banana Island. Yes, good looking wouldn’t hurt, and having a decent job would also be a plus…but at this point, we are looking for someone we will enjoy being with…someone with the same values, sense of humour as us…someone who will make our heart smile. We dream of love. But then, you hit the age of 30, and society pretty much expects you to jump into the arms of the first male specimen that crosses your path. By the time you hit the age of 35, you are not expected to have a choice in the matter. For a lot of women, out the window goes their wish list, and they become prepared to settle for anything.

I have seen this way too many times with some of my unmarried friends. They are ready to date just about anything and anyone! Men they would ordinarily not have cast a second glance are now the ones they pander to. The even sadder part is that in most instances, these men add insult to injury by treating them very poorly. A man you would never have given the time of day to once upon a time, is now the man making you run around in circles, sometimes making you a laughing stock with his much younger side chicks. But you stay hanging on, all because you want to quickly get married and have kids. What my friends in this position tell me is that “the love will grow”. I hope for their sakes it does, because I can not imagine spending a lifetime and raising children with a man I don’t love. Marriage and co-parenting are hard enough, even when the love is there. Without it…I just don’t know if it would be worth it.

Sometimes I wonder…so you get married to this person you don’t love, and you have the kids you so desire. Is it fair for these children to grow up never seeing Mommy ecstatically happy? Is it alright to give these kids, especially the daughters, a warped idea of what a loving relationship should be like? The counter argument I always get is that “The love would have grown by then!”. Ooooookay…..but what if it doesn’t?

A friend of mine recently married a man I know she doesn’t particularly love. Unlike a lot of the other guys my other friends have dated, this friend was lucky to get a good man. Kind, loving, and affectionate. But she told me herself that she doesn’t love him. But at 35, she feels the need to quickly “settle down”. On her wedding day, there was no twinkle in her eyes, and her smile didn’t go past her lips. I was so heartbroken over how she would possibly feel on her wedding night…with a man whose touch would probably repulse her. For her sake, I do pray that “the love will grow”, because she is too dear to me to imagine her in a loveless marriage for the rest of her life.

Are children really worth it? Is having a child enough to condemn yourself to a life of sadness? I honestly think it is better to go ahead and have children on your own (via adoption, a sperm donor, or even a baby daddy), rather than entering a loveless marriage. One of my closest friends, who is unmarried, also shares the same opinion. At 37, going on 38, she has become a prayer point for everyone in her family and most of her friends. But this girl will absolutely not settle for any joker, and I absolutely applaud her for that. She has had the strength to walk away from disrespectful and abusive relationships, and is believing God to give her her own man. And I know God will listen to her, because He did the same for me!

When I was in my late 20s, I found myself on the receiving end of this societal dictate. I had just ended a long term relationship, and was desperately praying to meet my Mr. Right. I was already 29 and, in my mind, I had only one more year to meet my husband. So, a dear friend hooked me up with a childhood friend of hers. He lived in the States, and had a fantastic job. We started e-mailing and talking on the phone, and we clicked immediately. Yes, he seemed quite bossy and domineering, but I thought I was prepared to live with that. A few months later, he finally came to Nigeria, and we met for the first time. Words can not express how I felt when I saw him. He was absolutely nothing like I had imagined, and I could not even muster any attraction for him. When I complained to a few of my friends, I was immediately shushed…especially by the older ones. “Be there looking for fine boy oh!”, a lot of them retorted. I was promptly advised to ignore anything to do with looks and focus on his personality. Almost everyone advised me not to let a good catch slip away…as Lagos girls would immediately jump at the idea of dating a New York investment banker. So, I decided to give it a shot. But I was m.i.s.e.r.a.b.l.e! And his bossy, domineering attitude just got even worse. Every time he came to Nigeria, I would psych myself for weeks, but on seeing him in the airport, my heart would crash to my feet. He had started talking marriage, but instead of making me excited, I only felt even more miserable at the very thought. In the end, I just had to be true to myself…so a month to my 30th birthday, I ended the relationship. My Mom just couldn’t believe it. Some of my friends thought I was a lunatic. But it felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my chest. At that point, I was no longer worried about being 30 and unmarried. My 30th birthday came, and I had a wonderful celebration with close friends and family. I knew that if I couldn’t marry the love of my life, then it would be best not to marry at all. A few months later, I met my soulmate, my forever love…and nothing could have felt more right. We were married a year later. I am so happy I had the strength to walk away from the Mr-Right who wasn’t right at all for me…because I wouldn’t have the wonderful life I have now if I hadn’t.

So, please…do NOT settle for less. Don’t let your biological clock make one of the biggest decisions you will ever make in your life for you. Before giving yourself to a man, be sure that your spirit, heart, and brain are all in accord. Forever is an awful long time to be unhappy.

Food for thought!

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  1. Sincerely u have just hit d nail on the head.. lots of us need to read this over n over, infact put some of the words on our dressing mirror so we can see well in d morning. @nicole most marriages in nigeria now are societal/family n frnd’s thingz, am an only child so I have a LOT of pressure couple with PCOS but I have made up my mind not to settle for less.

  2. Hmmm, is quite unfortunate that the misery that most ladies goes through in the name of a marriage is as a result of parental and societal pressure. However, as ladies in the 21st century the choice is solely ours to either bow to societal pressure or wait and get it right or ultimately getting a safe alternative if one thinks the clock is ticking so fast.

    Yea! Am in support of a safe alternative (adoption, a sperm donor or surrogate), one would say is cos she is married and doesn’t understand that our society frowns at such, well sweethearts to melt the icing on the cake; am still single in my mid 30s and I give no heck about what society thinks about my status. My happiness is solely mine, I don’t pay attention to sycophants and mediocres cos at the end they won’t be the one bearing my cross for me.

    At this stage in life and by experiences I have had I can boldly say that of a truth “is better to be single and happy than being married and sad”. Never settle for less, yes cos the end result is often tales of woes and misery.

  3. I settled and it was the biggest mistake I ever made, I am in the process of leaving an emotionally and physically abusive relationship. I am thankful I am alive and healthy and I know me and my 2 babies will be ok. Please never never settle

  4. This message is just directed at me. Thank you for this reminder. I am 32 years and not yet married and I know I won’t settle for less because everyone around me is getting married. It is tough sometimes but I am not and will not loose hope. I will meet my own man and have a happy forever. Thank you.

  5. When marriage itself can be challenging i wonder why one will add settling to the dynamics. However, we should have realist dreams of Mr. Right. I’m tall and assumed my ideal Mr. Right must be taller than me so i fought my feelings for him thanks to height. Mom didn’t also help matters – imagine her saying what will people say at the wedding??? It was that day i realised these parents truly don’t know it all. We separated, dated other people in fact the other guy was way better off but our love was too strong and we were both miserable. We made up and i’m glad i didn’t settle for less. The other guy worshiped me but as hard as i tried i couldn’t love him. My sister is single at 31 and no pressure from my folks, i warned them. She also has friends who are in horrible marriages so no rush, wait and never settle.

  6. Just the piece i need. M at d ‘age 29 & 1 more year to find Mr Right’ phase, smtyms i wonder if i shud jx reduce d standards. Loool. Ur piece hs inspired mi, better to b single than married & miserable!! Tnx

  7. You have said it all Nicole , “there is no late comer in marriage”. I will hit my mid thirties in few months, am not worried neither am I settling for less.


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