One huge fear of mine has always been picking out the wrong person and getting stuck with them for good, too afraid to dump them because someone better might never come along.
This is settling at its worst, and I’ve always been afraid that somehow I’ll get stuck there, half unhappy and half happy, wondering what I should do next.
Visualize an over-the-top happy couple. When asked if they love the other person, they glow a little bit and smile before responding. If you ask a so-so couple if they love the other person, there just is not the same kind of enthusiasm. Sure, they respond “sure” or something, but no one is jumping on a couch or getting excited. They seem ho-hum about the question, or worse, annoyed that you asked. This reaction usually tells me most of what I need to know about how things are going.
Say you’re with your partner for several years and things are just fine. You start to think that the next logical step might be moving in together or marriage but one or both of you aren’t particularly excited about it one way or another.
So how do you know if you’re just going through a rough patch and should work on the relationship or are settling for less than you deserve?
Here are 6 questions to ask yourself to find out if you are actually settling instead of having the right relationship:
1. How About Commitment?
Do you want to get married and know that your partner does also but they just don’t seem to ever talk about the future with you? Do you shy away from the idea of commitment to your partner? Do you have nightmares about getting stuck with them?
I once attended a very expensive trade school with the express purpose of “needing to finish school” before getting married. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was my bizarre way of keeping a so-so relationship going while totally avoiding marrying him altogether. I’ve had friends say and hear things like “I want to get married but I need to get promoted first.” Um… sure.
You shouldn’t have to cajole, negotiate or reason with your partner on the topic of a commitment. With the right person a commitment will be forthcoming. Rather than focusing on “getting married” to whomever you are with, it is much more productive to focus on “meeting the right person to be with.” Commitment will take care of itself. If the idea of moving in with or marrying your partner scares you or them, strongly consider why this is the case.
2. Do They “Get” Your Sense of Humor?
I’ve tried HARD to have a relationship with someone who was right in a lot of ways, but we didn’t laugh and play. While I might have loved a lot of things about him, the fact that he didn’t “get” me on such a basic level was eventually the final nail in the coffin. The idea of gratingly explaining my sarcastic jokes for the next 50 years was enough to send a shiver of fear down my spine.
In a permanent relationship, a shared sense of humor is absolutely critical. On the surface, it sounds like something that you two might be able to get past, but it becomes annoying fast to have your love stare at you blankly every time you crack a joke. Your sense of humor will carry you through both life’s good times and difficult moments.
Do you really want to be with someone permanently who isn’t in on the joke?
3. Are You Bored?
Do you go through most of your interactions with your partner in an old-hat way? Does it feel like you’re just going through the motions? Do you secretly hope that someone will finally do something interesting? How does it feel when you think about “the rest of your life” with this person? Does it all feel crushingly monotonous? This is a big red flag that it’s time to reassess your options.
4. How’s The Bedroom?
At one point, maybe the sex was hot, but now it’s just… not. Sure, you guys might still get after it, but it competes heavily with chocolate and re-runs.
5. Do You Long For Greener Pastures?
Do you secretly envy your friend’s happy relationships but have no idea why? From all appearances, you should be just as happy, after all, you’re with someone also.
Do you look at your partner and think, “I wish they were sexier” or worse, “Wow, that other person over there looks delicious?” Then it might be time to assess your overall feelings about your relationship.
This is not a simple attraction to the opposite sex. It’s more like a deep down longing for something that is missing with your partner. In the right relationship, you should feel so excited about the other person that alternatives are the last thing you’re looking for.
6. How Does Your Gut Feel?
I’m a big believer in following your gut feelings. If you’re settling, deep down you know it. Another sign that your guts are screaming is if you’re constantly asking your friends their opinions on your relationship. Needing validation that things are fine is a really strong indicator that things are not fine.
Happy people aren’t going around asking their friends if things are good, they’re just happy. If you’re constantly analyzing your relationship, it’s a pretty good sign that there are big problems looming.
It’s time to break out and get what you really want for your life. Stop thinking “well this is good enough,” and gain the courage to make a change.