Relationships are meant to be enjoyed and they’re meant to make us feel safe and secure. However, they involve persevering through the hard times and compromise too. But how do we know if we are implementing healthy compromises, or settling for an unhealthy relationship? These 4 tips will help us spot the signs and make wise decisions as we date. 

I remember ages ago being in dating relationships and trying to convince myself that it was what I wanted. Pretending it was okay when really we were both just settling. 

It’s so hard now when I see people, especially close friends, trying to convince themselves they are happy in a relationship when I can see the hurt it’s causing.  Sometimes I have got the wrong end of the stick, sometimes they have worked out the problems eventually, but sometimes it has ended really badly. (Read New Research Suggests Friends Can Make Or Break Our Relationship)

Which raises an important question: How can you tell if you are settling or compromising? 

Normal Or Odd?

All relationships take hard work. There are things we may need to stop doing, or start doing, as we build a mutually loving relationship. There will be things we need to sacrifice and think differently about. 

However, relationships are meant to be fun and make us feel safe and secure. They are meant to make life better. If we feel like the sacrifice and the hard work is one-way traffic, then we may be settling for a bad relationship. 

Compromise helps us navigate the lows to enjoy the highs

People settle for many reasons. They think a bad relationship is better than no relationship. They put too much worth on relationship status. They think of the few good times to justify the bad times. But settling is different to compromise. 

Compromise helps us navigate the lows to enjoy the highs and have them more often. Whereas settling only makes us experience more and more lows, with a few highs to make us think it is okay. 

Spotting the Signs  

Spotting the difference will help us to know if we’re on the right track or heading for disaster. Especially if our dating relationship is new, or feels like it’s at a critical stage. We need to know that settling means: 

  • Always Hoping They Give Back
  • Sacrificing Too Many Things To Make It Work 
  • Only Having A Few Good Times To Enjoy
  • Not Feeling Like You Can Share Everything

Always Hoping They Give Back

One sign of settling is that we’re always hoping that they will start giving back. In a mutually loving relationship, both people are giving and putting the other person first. But if only one person is doing it, hoping the other one will do it (more), then there is a problem. 

I have heard this dynamic justified by the person who does all the giving before. ‘You don’t know them like I do’. ‘I’m just more caring’. ‘I don’t mind really’. But we cannot make excuses for selfish behaviour. 

Compromise involves both people giving and not just taking what they can get. If we’re hoping that our partner will suddenly change, it’s not a healthy place to be. 

Sacrificing Too Many Things To Make It Work

Settling also occurs when we just sacrifice too many things. 

There are times when one person moves cities to be with the other person. Or when you need to stop doing a hobby/do it less to spend more time together. Or you give time and money to support them somehow. These things can be healthy choices. 

But when one person is doing all of this and more, changing everything to fit into the life of the other person who isn’t sacrificing or changing at all, there is a problem. 

We’re settling if this is just a one-way street

Compromise does involve both people making big and small sacrifices. As well as showing their appreciation for it. We’re settling if this is just a one-way street.  

Only Having A Few Good Times To Enjoy

Anyone can think about a good memory. Every couple can share a moment that gives them a high and makes them feel loved. 

If these moments are few and far between though or becoming less frequent, then there is a problem we need to face up to. It’s a particularly big problem if we use these few highs to justify the long and frequent lows in the relationship. 

Healthy relationships that involve compromise do go through lows, but these couples communicate and do their best to avoid it happening again. Couples who settle just ignore the problem. 

Not Feeling Like You Can Share Everything

One final tip to spotting the signs of settling is when we feel like we can’t share stuff with our partner. 

We aren’t allowed to be real or authentic

If we feel like we can’t chat, offload, get emotional support from our partner, then we aren’t allowed to be real or authentic. We won’t feel like they have our back. Naturally, some people are better at communicating and sharing than others. I had to learn to do it well, but I made sure I did learn.

Compromise means supporting each other, sharing everything and feeling like you are a team. Settling stops this from happening.  

Imagine If…

If you’re spotting these signs in your dating relationship, it probably means you need to at least have some hard talks, and it may mean doing things differently moving forward. It may even lead to some tough decisions. 

But imagine if we didn’t settle for settling, and we made sure compromise was part of the healthy relationship we build.

So remember to spot the signs of settling: Always Hoping They Give Back, Sacrificing Too Many Things To Make It Work, Only Having A Few Good Times To Enjoy, Not Feeling Like You Can Share Everything. (Read Amazing, Enjoyable, But Not Easy. The Secret Behind Great Relationships)

What do you think is another sign of settling? Comments welcomed below. 

Originally posted 18/2/2019