5 ways to know if you’re settling in your relationship

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By Anastasia Amour

“I love them, but…”

Hands up if you’ve ever said this? If you have, chances are you may be “settling” for the wrong relationship. In life, settling is a common problem. Some of us settle for jobs that we can’t bear another minute of, or a living situation that is less than ideal. And some of us even settle for a partner that makes us doubt why we want to wake up next to them every day.

Young people in particular can feel pressured to settle. Whether by relatives (“Why are you still single?”) or their coupled-up friends, or simply because they are scared that the right person will never come along. But none of these are good enough reasons to settle. Not only do you run the risk of feeling unhappy and unfulfilled, but by settling for a lacklustre relationship you also risk missing out on a genuine connection when the right person does eventually come along.

Not sure if you’re in it for the right reasons? Here’s five ways to tell that you might be settling.

1. Someone who brings you down. If a relationship leaves you feeling exhausted, emotionally drained and overall unhappy – that’s your brain’s way of telling you that you shouldn’t be spending the rest of your life with this person! After all, who would want to inflict pain on themselves for someone who isn’t the right fit? If your partner uses guilt to manipulate you into decisions, or conversely, if you feel smothered, this is only going to breed resentment. Relationships are supposed to be fun, emotionally fulfilling and passionate – and none of us deserve any less than this!

2. Someone who makes you fundamentally change who you are. A great relationship will help you grow and improve, not only as an individual, but also as a couple. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to make positive changes for yourself, and it’s natural to want the best for your partner, too. However, if your partner keeps suggesting that you make huge changes – to how you look, act, or behave, for example – or that you need to “fix” something about yourself in order to be with them, chances are that it’s not you that needs fixing, but the entire relationship. If someone isn’t happy with you (the person that they met and decided to start dating in the first place), perhaps the relationship has passed its best before date. If the person you’re with wants an entirely different person, it can be healthier for you both to move on. No one should make you feel like a bad person for not aligning with his or her idea of “perfect”.

3. Someone who doesn’t want the same things. Whilst it’s certainly true that relationships require compromise, being tied to someone who doesn’t want kids when you do, or who wants to live in the country while you want to stay in the city, or who doesn’t want to settle down while you want to get married can lead to you feeling uneasy. If there are certain things you’ve always dreamed of having in your life or huge goals you’d like to achieve, staying with someone who is fundamentally opposed to these ideas isn’t likely going to make you happy. There’s a big difference between compromise in relationships and giving up all the things that you want to achieve.

4. Someone who abuses you. Abuse comes in many forms – it can be physical, verbal or emotional. The right person will never harm you by using their words, actions or love to manipulate you into a situation that you’re not happy with. Abuse can be incredibly damaging to a person’s self-esteem and mental health. Likewise, the right person won’t lie to you or cheat on you. If you’re with someone who has repeatedly lied to you or cheated on you, ask yourself why you’re willing to give your trust to someone who doesn’t value your loyalty. Relationships that involve a power play through abuse or cheating seldom make both parties happy, least of all the person who is being taken advantage of. If you feel like you’re being emotionally, verbally or physically bullied or abused by your partner, please seek help and talk to a qualified counsellor.

5. Someone who’s ashamed of you. Some people are naturally shy, and like to keep their private matters private. However, if you find yourself in a relationship that makes you question whether your partner is proud to have you by their side, things might need to change. If you’re never invited to meet their friends or family, if they never want to go anywhere in public with you or if, every time you want to share something about your relationship with others, they become defensive and don’t want to share, something may be off. If someone is ashamed of you, then you’re not the right people for each other. We should all be with someone who is proud to have us, who wants to show us off and who feels lucky to be getting to spend their lives with us.

In love, there shouldn’t be any “buts”. You deserve someone who shares your hopes and dreams, who’ll reciprocate your love and devotion, and who’s proud to have you by their side. So stop settling for “close enough”. When that person comes along, you’ll realise why it never worked with anyone else!


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