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Settling Isn't The Easy To Avoid Pitfall Everyone Claims. Almost Everyone Falls For It.

It’s the wolf in sheep’s clothing of relationship problems.

By Ellen "Jelly" McRaePublished 3 months ago 8 min read
Image created on Canva

Waiting until your deathbed, or your partner's deathbed, to find out you've settled isn't my idea of a happy life. And I'm sure you would agree.

And spending your entire life with someone who makes you miserable, too, isn't exactly an ideal situation, either.

Some people are lucky to figure out when their partner is making them miserable. I know we wouldn't say divorcees are the lucky people, as an example. 

But at least they've figured it out. 

They were smart enough, emotionally intelligent enough, to realise it was time to cut and run.

That's more than what some of us do.

But for those still in their relationships, we believe we know better. We think we're the exception to the rule, right? Settling couldn't have happened to us. We're the happy ones. And to be this happy, we can't have settled, right?


Settling in relationships is like the wolf in sheep's clothing. It's everywhere, and you don't even know it.

The "obvious" settling

Before we get onto the wolf-like signs you're settling, I just want to address the obvious, cliche yet very true signs of settling. These signs are pretty noticeable to anyone looking into your relationship from afar. 

Or if not noticeable, they're apparent in your everyday life without much reflection. 

These could be anything like:

  • Fearing being alone so you stay with your partner to avoid loneliness
  • Staying with them for the sake of the kids, a business, a commitment of sorts
  • You know you're not physically or emotionally attracted to your partner, but you've committed to them, so you stay
  • Not having anything in common with them but committing despite this
  • You don't feel excited about a future with them

These might not be obvious to everyone, by the way. But I wanted to point out these factors to highlight your classic settling signs from the less obvious ones we're about to discover.

Someone had "the talk" with you

You've reached your thirties, you've had a partner for a while and someone pulls you aside to have the talk. Settle down, make it official, now is the time to get married.

Or you've reached a certain point in your relationship, say you've been together for ten years, and someone pulls you aside. They tell you it's time to make a commitment to this person or break up with them.

Or you've reached any point in your relationship and someone you respect tells you not to let this partner go. They tell you how much they love your partner and how they would be sad to see them disappear from your life.

This is literally people in your life telling you to settle where you are, based on what stage of your life you're at. 

They're telling you what you should be doing at this point in your life.

And if you've acted upon these conversations, taking their advice rather than doing what you wanted to do, more than likely you've settled in your relationship. Forced pressure will do that to you.

The most annoying part? 

You won't always see it as pressure; it will seem like this person is looking out for you.

You find yourself missing the dating version of your partner

Everyone changes. 

That's a fact of life. 

And as you grow deeper into your relationship, you both change together. Again, another fact of life you can't change.

Yet, some people find themselves mysteriously missing the old version of their partner. The one they used to date before they committed to them, perhaps through marriage, kids, moving in together, or the like.

Missing the old version of your partner can seem like you've disliked how the person has changed. Whilst there's some of that, in reality, you're missing what you were like in those days. You miss the days when your relationship wasn't rooted in stone and when you could walk away.

If you're missing the days when you weren't committed, that's a sign of settling.

And to confuse things, you've projected it onto your partner, making it harder to spot.

You tell people they're as good as you're going to get

A friend of mine, a man, loves telling anyone willing to listen how much his wife is the best he's ever going to get. He also jokes he never had a girlfriend before her, which no one finds that funny.

I used to think this was a really nice gesture on his part. It's a kind way of making his wife feel special and making her smile. But then he accompanies this message with phrases like:

  • I didn't think I would end up with someone who looks like her. She's not my type.
  • I always pictured my ideal wife-to-be (someone the total opposite of his wife).
  • She's the only woman who could put up with me.

He doesn't say all these things in the same breath, either. It took some time to put the pieces together, but it's pretty clear he believes he's settled.

His wife isn't the perfect person, isn't the one he thought he should be with but is seriously the best he's going to do.

And when you believe you've met the person who's the best you're going to get, settling is inevitable. You're only being with that person because it's the best offer you believe is out there.

Is that true? 

Well, I don't believe so. That's just me, though.

You see your partner as Barbie/Ken doll

I can say proudly that I don't agree with every single thing about my husband. There are parts of his behaviours and actions I wouldn't do.

He used to skydive as a hobby. Is that my cup of tea? No. That's not how I want to spend my off time.

But would I try to change this behaviour about him? No. Because that's him and I love how adventurous he is and how he embraces life.

I'm not trying to change him. I don't see him as a doll I can dress up, play with, and put back into the toy box at night. I don't see him as someone I can manipulate and shape.

But here's the confusing part; people will often tell you wanting to change part of your partner's behaviour or actions is normal.

Well, it's not.

Unless they're doing something that hurts you, wanting to change them shows you how much you've settled for them. You knew from the start you couldn't accept them as they are. You knew you weren't 100% happy with them.

Yet, believing this feeling as normal has led you here. It's socially acceptable settling.

Hearing the "L" word gives you the ick

My second boyfriend was allergic to the "L" word; love. He and I were together for over a year and a half before he could say it to me. Even then, I wasn't convinced he meant it.

He said it took him so long to say it because he felt burned by how his ex said it to him and then took it back. It was a mess and I was being punished for having cared about someone.

Despite this, hearing the "L" word gave my ex the icks when I said it to him. It disgusted him, and offended him, probably because he didn't feel the same way and couldn't reciprocate the feeling.

He knew he shouldn't have been with me. He shouldn't have settled for me. And this was a constant reminder of that.

But I'm not sure he knew that. He would blame his ex and his negative association with saying that to someone. In reality, the ick was covering for much more.

It's easy to justify your icks as something else. In my experience, any icks in a relationship indicate you've settled with the wrong person. If you're at the point of feeling repulsed, and you have that level of reaction, it's undeniable. 

You've settled.

You're tired of hearing how perfect you are for each other

My mum said this to me and my husband the other day. "You two are perfect for each other." We've been together for ten and a half years, and I've always thought it. 

But I had never really had anyone say it to us. 

Not that I needed to, either. It was a nice surprise. I could have listened to her say it again and again.

When you haven't settled, you never get tired of people pointing out how perfect the two of you are together.

It warms your heart that people think you're so well-suited.

And it makes you feel pretty damn good the world agrees with what you think too.

But when you can't stand someone saying it once, twice, or many times, you know you've settled.

This is almost another ick; another thing that grates upon you because you know it's a lie. You feel annoyed that people keep saying something that isn't true. Well, true to you.

You're reading this article

Perhaps you've clicked on here wondering about your relationship. Perhaps you clicked on here hoping for some justification for why you're feeling apathetic toward your relationship.

And perhaps you were hunting for some good old confirmation bias.

Either way, when you're seeking out answers to the question, "Have I settled in my relationship?", you already know the answer.

You might not need to know any of the subtle signs or hidden indicators. You feel it.

And when you feel it, that's enough.

The next question is; are you going to continue to settle?


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About the Creator

Ellen "Jelly" McRae

Writes about romanceships (romance + relationships) | Loves to talk about behind the scenes of being a solopreneur on The Frolics | Writes 1 Lovelock Drive | Discover everything I do and share here:

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  • suman mohan3 months ago

    Very nice!

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