Sadness Love in Ending of Relationship Concept, Broken Heart Woman Standing with a Red Rose on Hand, Blurred Man in Back Side Walking away as background
Cover Image © Black Salmon

Do Most People Settle In Relationships?

I had an interesting conversation with a friend the other day about relationships. He told me about a talk he had with someone and asked if I agreed with that person’s statement that (paraphrasing), “There is always someone settling in a relationship”? I told him that I would really hope that’s not true (exposing my romantic idealism).

What is Settling?

I guess before you even approach this topic, there has to be a consensus on what exactly is meant by the word “Settling” because that could mean many things to many different people. For the sake of argument, I’ll be sticking with this definition thrown out from Psychology Today

Settling doesn’t mean letting go of preferences. We all have things we prefer but don’t always get, and that’s not enough to end a relationship. If someone loses their job, hair, or abs, that doesn’t mean you’re settling. Settling means letting go of things that are important to who you are, what you believe in, how you would like to be treated and loved, and this other part called magic, which I’ll get into in a bit. We settle when we start compromising ourselves and our own needs.

5 Signs That You Might Be Settling
(Psychology Today)

Even going with that definition, most people who I know in relationships – in my opinion – didn’t seem to settle. Did they get with the most perfect person ever? Probably not. No one is perfect. But – did they typically end up with the perfect person for them? Maybe.

They seem happy, and the ones who are married are staying married. This all brings me to my next big question…

Why Settle?

Trying to step into the shoes of someone who might be settling, I have to openly wonder about the benefits of doing so. At first glance, settling sounds like a recipe for guaranteed unhappiness after all – but, in order to have a good discussion – let’s hear the Pros of this choice [followed by my rebuttals in purple]:

  • No one is perfect, so it’s a waste of time to seek that out when you can just get someone really close to your idea of perfection. [Nothing wrong with this one]
  • You wouldn’t be single. Some people may get into relationships where they’re settling so they wouldn’t have to worry about being solo/alone later in life. [There is nothing wrong with being single]
  • There may be a huge positive to settling on one person’s end (e.g. They may be marrying a multi-millionaire who they aren’t exactly in love with – but there’s a huge monetary upside to the union). [This always ends well]
  • It proves that “somebody wants you” and fights off any stigmas that may come with being a single person at a given age. [Love yourself more than letting this matter to you]
  • It removes one more uncertainty in life. [Sure?]
  • There may be a huge shared history between you and the person you’re settling for. [History doesn’t mean you need to be with someone in the present]
  • You may be old and have been in a settling relationship for a long time, so why change? [Because you’re miserable & Life is short]
  • Better the mediocre lover you know than the one that you don’t? [Live a little & take a risk]

I’m sure there are other reasons, but those are the ones I could think of off the top of my head, and I feel like any other reasons I could think of would all just be variations on some of the points stated above.

Concept of settling - sad man with insomnia sitting on bed at home at night.

For the record – you can find tons of articles on this subject, but I wasn’t really finding many that listed out actual stats like this one…

A survey by the dating app Bumble asked 1,003 Canadian women between 21 and 37 whether they were settling in any of their personal relationships. The survey was done between Nov. 30 and Dec. 10, 2018.

It found that 23 per cent of women who responded said they are settling in their romantic relationships.

Why many women settle in their romantic relationships
(Toronto Star)

Did I post that because it supports my hope that most people aren’t settling? Yes.

Why I’m Team #DoNotSettle

I say this as someone who would rather be “let go” than “settled for” (and I’m sure that’s happened to me once or twice) — I don’t think people should settle. The benefits feel short lived once someone realizes they aren’t happy in the end. SURE, you may seem happy temporarily – but let’s revisit that definition that I through out at the start of this one…

Settling means letting go of things that are important to who you are…

This is how people lose their identities in relationships. I am a strong believer in relationships that either strengthen or complement the individual personalities in them. Once relationships start to make you lose a sense of self, that’s a red flag for me (personally) — even if it feels like a “good” loss of self. I know that might swing well for some, but it’s an indicator of something not-so-great in my view. If something is important to you and core to who you are, hold tight to that even if it’s at the expense of the other person’s happiness because I think the right person would understand its importance to you. I think you’ll be happier for it in the long-run, too.

[Letting go of W]hat you believe in…

There are virtues and belief structures that are essential to our outlooks on the world. While it can be religious in nature, it doesn’t always have to be. It can be something as simple as one partner feeling like women should be equal partners in a relationship while the other feels like they should have more of a “classic/traditional” American role of staying home and cooking and watching the kids. Those two things conflict greatly, and I wouldn’t tell EITHER person to pursue the other on that core belief alone. If one of them chose to lie and say that they no longer hold their deeply-rooted belief in order to be with the other, that just sets up chaos further down the line.

[Letting go of H]ow you would like to be treated and loved…

Why would you be with someone who doesn’t treat you how you want to be treated? It always baffles me when people end up in relationships with partners who don’t do KEY things that they want. I know women who want their men to be more romantic. I know men who want their women to be more independent. So why would you get with a guy with no sense of romance or settle for a non-independent woman? It doesn’t make sense on a very fundamental level to me. I understand if the person you’re with doesn’t meet your standard all of the time, but if they NEVER meet that standard — what the hell are you doing?

Portrait of a romantic couple

[A]nd [letting go of] this other part called magic

As someone who has mastered the art of unrequited love from both ends – LOL – trust me on this: “The Magic” is important. If either side of the equation isn’t feeling the spark, let it go and let it go fast. I have been involved with people that I just didn’t feel that sense of magic with – and I walked away. I have also been the person who didn’t ignite that spark for the other person, and they walked away. Yes — it hurts — it always sucks “a little”-to-“a little bit more” depending on what side of the interaction you’re on, but it always sucks. I feel like people who deny the power of this one just end up in relationships that end in infidelity. I mean, if the person you’re with doesn’t get your motor going (you know what I mean) – what happens when you meet the person who does? Ok, now think of that same situation happening for your partner. A lot of that could easily be avoided if people were just honest and called things off if there were never any prominent instances of an enjoyable spark.

[W]e settle when we start compromising ourselves and our own needs.

We all have vital aspects of self and desires that we want to be fulfilled. I don’t mean fancies that come and go – but things that we have wanted for as long as we can remember. If you are not being honest or caring enough with yourself to pursue those things, you are only sabotaging your future happiness. Life isn’t only about happiness and it won’t always be happy, but why not seek it out with the time that you have? Why willingly put yourself through a prolonged state of dissatisfaction if you don’t have to?

Reflecting a bit as I wrote each part of the post above comes from years of being let down or letting others down, romantically, from my end. But all of that also comes from taking pride in having done so rather than settle (and being proud of the women I was talking to, who may have let me go, for having done so as well). To understand “why you wouldn’t want to settle” is to also understand why someone else shouldn’t either, AND to support that. If you don’t — you don’t understand it just yet.

I hope that most people out in the world in relationships aren’t settling, and I feel bad for those who are. I really do. As of this writing, there are 7.85 BILLION people on Earth. Mathematically speaking – there are too many souls on this planet for you to settle into being unhappy with one at any point in your life. Find the person who appreciates you and makes each day feel like an adventure you’re happily on with them. Partner in life with someone who enriches your days rather than dims your light.

Male partners and friends looking at pictures on tablet at home - happily not settling.

You get what I’m saying. I wish folks the best & hope you don’t settle for anything — ever.

Peace, and thanks for reading.


The soundtrack for this post provided by…

Image Credits:
– Cover Image © Black Salmon (Shutterstock)
– Body Image 1 © oneinchpunch (Shutterstock)
– Body Image 2 © Syda Productions (Shutterstock)
– Body Image 3 © margo_black (Shutterstock)
– Body Image 4 © Diego Cervo (Shutterstock)

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