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7 ways to avoid settling for someone who is totally wrong for you
These suggestions will help you avoid dating losers. - photo by Melinda Fox
Even though you know you don't want to end up with someone who is less than you deserve, for one reason or another, you can end up in a relationship with or married to someone who is. It may seem like the relationship is a good solution to your problems, but it can actually be the source of chronic discontent and even heartbreak. To avoid that, here are 7 suggestions to prevent you from settling.

1. Take risks

One reason many people settle is they are afraid of holding out for something that may not exist. What they have right now is secure, but waiting is a gamble. However, it's a risk worth taking. Even though the thought of ending up alone can be terrifying, the reality can't be worse than getting stuck in an awful relationship. Take the riskwait.

2. Avoid peer pressure

Peer pressure can come in all shapes and forms. Maybe it's relatives at holiday parties asking why you're still single or friends getting married and moving on without you. In whatever form, these pressures can make you run to the first person who looks your way in spite of the fact that they aren't great for you. Focus on yourself, and do whatever you can to prevent outside influences from driving you to make less-than-ideal life choices.

3. Work on your fear of being alone

If you have a terror of being alone (whether for a month or for forever), you are in danger of allowing yourself to settle for whichever person shows interest, even a person who might not be the best for you. Learn to be confident in your single self. Develop independence economically, socially and emotionally. Discover things you enjoy doing by yourself. If you are satisfied with your independence, you reduce your risk of being with someone just because they're there.

4. Meet lots of people

The more people you meet, the more likely you are to meet the person who meets your expectations. Talk to everyone: the person behind you in line, sitting next to you on the train or waiting at the cross walk. It doesn't matter whether they are old or young, male or female; what's important is that you are constantly meeting people so that you practice talking to people (so it's not a shock to your system when you try to converse with a cute guy in a coffee shop). Expand your networkeven if the person you talk to isn't your type, they may know someone who is. Increase your odds of meeting "the one."

5. Have a vision

Many people will come down on you for having a specific idea of who you want to marry. However, "being picky" is what prevents you from settling. Not everything you hope for in a partner is a necessity, but that doesn't mean you can't set inflexible standards about the most important things. Write these down. Your focus on these qualities will help you recognize which people meet your expectations and which don't.

6. Know your deal-breakers

Just like you should have an idea of what qualities are most important for your partner to have, you need to know what you cannot tolerate. This list does not have to be extensive, but you should know exactly where you draw your line in order to avoid settling for someone who has qualities that are actually unacceptable to you.

7. Become a high-value person

When you meet someone who meets your high expectations, they will be the kind of person that has high expectations as well. Do everything you can to tailor yourself into a person that you would want to marry. If you want to be with someone who is physically active, get moving yourself. If you want to be with someone who is patient, develop patience yourself. By holding yourself to the expectations you have for your dream partner, you will make yourself the kind of person who never has to settle.