5 Ways to Know if You’re Settling in a Relationship
Are you settling for less than you deserve in a relationship? Here’s how to know if you deserve more, inspired by the Parable of the Perfect Prince.
In Relationship Saboteurs: Overcoming the Ten Behaviors that Undermine Love, Randi Gunther offers easy-to-follow tips to help you identify and end your relationship-destroying tendencies once and for all. This book will help you learn if you’re settling for less than you deserve, or if you’re sabotaging your relationship for other reasons. Relationship Saboteurs explores the ten most common relationship-undermining behaviors and shows you how to overcome them.
Abuse is ALWAYS a sign you’re settling for less in a relationship! Read 5 Signs of a Verbally Abusive Relationship to learn what emotional abuse is, and how to deal with it.
The Parable of the Perfect Prince
Once upon a time, a maiden princess was talking with her best friend about her love life. “I thought I found the perfect man,” she said. “He was smart, handsome, and loyal. He was exceptional in every way, but he was satisfied with his job as a pickle salesman. I wanted more for him, for me, and for our future children.”
“Ah yes, I remember Peter Pickles,” said her friend. “He married Penelope, and they have five beautiful children. They are very happy together. He still sells pickles, and enjoys his work immensely. His home is full of joy and peace.”
The maiden princess nodded. “Sad for me, but lovely for him,” she said. “After I broke up with him, I traveled farther and met a man who was ambitious and attractive. But, alas, he had no time for me. He was always working.”
“Walter Workaholic, if I remember correctly,” said her friend. “He met Winifred, who helped him realize that life and love is more important than work. They moved to a faraway land, and are happily exploring the world.”
The maiden princess sighed. “How wonderful that would be, but alas it was not for me,” she said. “Recently I met the perfect prince. He had everything: perfect mind, perfect intelligence, perfect ambition, and a perfect face. All the features I’ve been searching for.”
“What happened?” asked the friend. “Why didn’t you marry him at once?”
“Ah well,” said the maiden princess, “as luck would have it, he was looking for the perfect woman.”
How to Know if You’re Settling in a Relationship
The maiden princess in the Parable of the Perfect Prince wasn’t settling for less than she deserved – she was on the other end of the spectrum. Her expectations were far too high, and she lost out on several relationships that could have been happy and good for her.
The key to finding true love and building a healthy relationship is to find the balance been being treated with the respect and love you deserve, and compromising because your partner isn’t perfect. And neither are you.
Know you are worthy of honor, love, and respect
If you are settling for less than you deserve in a relationship, it may be because you think you don’t deserve to be loved or treated well. Maybe you grew up in an abusive home, and you feel most comfortable with men who are condescending, mean, or neglectful. Maybe you did something you’re ashamed of in the past, and you feel like you deserved to be punished. Do you believe you are worthy of love, respect, and honor? If not, you need to rebuild your self-identity. I try to base my identity on being a Christian child of God. I believe He loves me dearly and accepts me fully. I don’t base my identity or worth on my husband, job, possessions, volunteer work, clothes, or appearance.
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Think about who brought you into this relationship
If your identity is based on what other people think, you may be settling into this relationship as a way of conforming or controlling the opinion of others. Are you with your partner because you were coerced or compelled by others? “When we realize we’ve been settling in a relationship, we discover what we actually believe,” says Iyanla Vanzant. “We learn that we perhaps think ourselves undeserving of happiness and find how susceptible we are to outside influences – because often we settle when others convince us it’s the right thing to do.”
Be honest – does your relationship bring you joy?
If you don’t have fun with your partner, you may be settling for less in a relationship. If you feel drained and depleted after being with your partner, you’re settling for less than you deserve. If your relationship brings more work than connection, peace, and joy…then you’re settling. A healthy relationship isn’t all fun and games, but it’s not all work either.
Your relationship may have started wonderfully. Read Why Good Relationships Go Bad to learn the most common reasons partners drift apart.
You know you’re not perfect – nobody else will love you
Maybe you’re staying in a bad relationship because you know you’re not perfect. You’re settling for less than you deserve because of the mistakes you’ve made. You don’t think you’ll find another person to love you. You have the opposite problem than the princess maiden in the Parable of the Perfect Prince: your standards aren’t high enough because you are scared nobody else will ever love you.
You don’t want to break up because of the time and energy you invested
This is a common reason women don’t leave relationships: they’ve invested years, money, time, energy, and made all sorts of sacrifices for their partner. Breaking up is a huge loss of everything you invested and all the sacrifices you made. Plus, it damages children, loved ones, family, and even colleagues. You may be settling for less than you deserve in your relationship simply because you don’t want to lose what you put into it.
If you know you’re settling for less than you deserve and want to end your relationship, read How to Write a Breakup Letter. I’m not a fan of breaking up via letter, text, voicemail, or other impersonal ways, but writing a letter can help you figure out how you feel and what to say.
I welcome your thoughts on settling for less in relationships. I can’t offer advice or counseling, but sharing your experience might help you see your partner more clearly.
Embrace change. Take a risk, lose something bad, gain something great.