Most of the people who tried to get me to "settle" had done so themselves. I think it was a case of "misery loves company."
I think one of the semantical things that makes these conversations hard (here, and in RL with friends) is the relationship
between 'settling' and 'compromising'. (Or perhaps even just 'bad compromising of values' and 'good compromising as an adult with other adults', if that makes sense).
For instance, if Jane decided that Prince Charming on a White Horse was not realistic, and decided to give 'normal guy Joe' a shot, and found she really liked him and felt great with him, her friend Mary might think she was just 'settling'. Mary might think it was sad that Jane had 'downgraded' her ideal vision of a potential mate, and even that Jane was pathetic for putting so high a value on 'just being with someone, anyone'. And perhaps that's true of Jane - or perhaps she found that giving normal guy Joe a chance made her happier than she ever could have thought she'd be.
On the flip - Jane could think that Mary was unrealistic in refusing to even consider a guy unless they met a laundry list of requirements, and that it was sad that Mary was cutting herself off from the potential happiness she could find dating
a normal person. She could even think that Mary was being rigid and immature about refusing to consider anything but a virtual Adonis. And perhaps she'd be right about Mary - or perhaps Mary simply knows that she would be far happier alone than with someone who didn't meet her standards, which she doesn't actually think are so out of this world unrealistic.
What does it mean to 'settle'? What does it mean to make adult and rational 'compromises'?
I have friends all over the spectrum of this.
Jenna - a good friend who I would absolutely say has 'settled', in all the worst senses of that word. She is/was absolutely so obsessed with being with a guy, any guy, rightnowrightnowrightnow, that she stays in a horrible relationship
with a guy who makes her feel like crap and quite literally has no redeeming qualities that anyone can fathom.
Mark - will only consider guys who meet a ridiculous list of insane and unrealistic characteristics. Won't cut potential mates the slack or benefit of the doubt that he expects them to give him. They are supposed to see past all his idiosyncrasies and flaws to get to know the 'real him', but will not do the same for them. Also constantly bemoans not being able to get a boyfriend and everyone else's coupledom.
Jenna thinks Mark is being immature and unrealistic. Mark thinks Jenna dropped her standards into the sewers. I think they're both right.
Of course, Jenna thinks everyone should be grateful a guy is willing to be with them, ever - which drives us all batty. And Mark thinks all of us have settled at one point or another just because someone we're with is human with human flaws, which also drives us all batty.