There are so many different reasons people settle in relationships. For a lot of people it's a fear of being single. But being single can not only be amazing, but it's also always better than being in a bad relationship. “I think being single is an exercise that every person should go through at some point in their adult life," psychologist Dr. Nikki Martinez tells Bustle. "It is a time that gives us the distance and clarity that we need to get to know who we truly are as a person, and to firmly define what it is that we want in a future partner."
For others, though, it may not be the fear of being single. It may be wanting to get married or have children — or other big life roles that traditionally are thought of as requiring a partner. And, for whatever reason, needing to get there becomes more important than who you get there with. The big problem is that once you've settled, it's really difficult to admit that you've done it. Most people just don't want to see it. So it's important to be self-aware enough to know when something's amiss.
Here are the signs you should look out for, because some compromises just aren't OK:
1. You've Compromised On Your Big Deal-breakers
Deal-breakers are important, not just for the issue itself, but because boundaries are crucial in a relationship. “A deal-breaker is an issue that is so important to a person, that if the other person will not compromise or concede, the relationship would probably not work out," Martinez tells Bustle. "They are things that are so deeply and utterly important to the person, that they could not be in a relationship with someone who did not share, or at least support and respect them."
Yet sometimes people throw them out the window — which is fine if they were superficial deal-breakers or ones not related to your core values. But if it's a major deal-breaker being ignored, that's a sign you may be settling.
2. You're Fine With The Relationship Just Being 'Meh'
No relationship is perfect, but you should want the best relationship you can possibly have. "If you find yourself not actively building your relationship, then you're settling," life coach Danny Zoucha tells Bustle. "I don't care if you are 89-years-old. If you're passive about it, you are settling and doing both of you a disservice." If you're not invested in the relationship, something's wrong.
3. You're Both Sexual People, But Have No Sex Life
Maybe you're both asexual — that's totally fine— but if you're sexual people then some sex should be happening. "If you can’t agree on how often to have sex, it can create an unending fight that will eventually erode the whole relationship," Tina B. Tessina, aka Dr. Romance, psychotherapist and author of Love Styles: How to Celebrate Your Differences, tells Bustle. If there's no sex, make sure you're not just settling for a friendship and calling it something more.
4. You Don't Feel The Need To Spend Time With Them
I'm all about independence and alone time, but quality time helps build a relationship. Unless it's a relationship of convenience — in which case, it's more about having a relationship than actually spending time together. But you deserve so much more than that, like being with someone you really want to see.
5. You're Worried About Them Seeing The Real You
A good relationship should always be built on authenticity, but some people are so desperate to be in a relationship they'll try to hide who they are — and just be who their partner wants them to be. "The right partner can encourage you to embrace your flaws and be proud of who you are," life coach Kali Rogers tells Bustle. "The wrong partner does the exact opposite." It's not OK and, honestly, it's not even sustainable.
6. You Rushed Into Things
Some people are all about the finish line. In my experience, people who obsess over life goals like marriage or kids are more likely to settle — just because they want to check off those boxes. If you're rushing through life stages, make sure you're not just doing it for the sake of it.
7. There Are Concerns From Others
You may not want to see them, but you can sense when there are concerns about your relationship. Whether they're coming from friends, family, or even from your own gut, listen to them. They're usually coming from people who genuinely want the best for you.
If you realize you're settling, don't beat yourself up — so many people have gotten caught up in expectations or pressures and ended up in relationships that aren't right for them. Just don't be scared to break it off and find something better.