Am I Settling In My Relationship? 13 Signs You’re Settling For Less Than You Deserve

“Hi Orna and Matthew,

I’m feeling torn. Am I settling in my relationship? I don’t know whether I should stick with my boyfriend or not. I do love him and he’s a solid guy, like a best friend. He’s almost everything I want, but there’s no passion, and that’s really important to me.

The thing is, I have a history of dating guys who aren’t good for me — emotionally unavailable, anger issues, cheaters, you name it, I’ve dated him. I worked on breaking that pattern, but I don’t feel completely fulfilled. You two talk about creating soul-satisfying love and I don’t feel like my soul is getting what it needs to be happy long-term. I just don’t know, because when I think about leaving him I feel sick to my stomach. He’s such a good man.

Am I being selfish? Or would I be true to myself by moving on? Should we split now so I’m not wasting his time or mine when I’m not sure?

Please help!


Hi Sylvia,

Struggling with the question: Am I settling in my relationship the way you describe it is filled with mental turmoil which can be exhausting. You’re stuck in a cycle of constantly wondering if you’re making a mistake by staying in it or ending up resentful because the passion you need is not there.

A lot of people end up divorcing because they made the safe choice and married someone who was a great match on paper but didn’t have the passion they longed for. Marrying your best friend sounds like a great idea until you find yourself with a roommate and not a lover. About forty percent of our clients come to us after getting divorced from the situation you describe.

The decision to stay or go is especially difficult if you have a history of going for passion and ending up with a broken heart. Am I settling in my relationship? — is the same as asking: Is it too much to ask to have a great partner who also turns you on?

Some things are worth settling for and others you can’t compromise. How do you know the difference? Let’s dig in and see if you can gain some clarity.

What Does It Mean To Settle In Your Relationship?

You’ve settled in a relationship if you’re sacrificing your needs in order to get some things you want. The problem is that this equation is backward! Your needs are not negotiable, but your wants are. You’ll never feel fulfilled in a relationship unless most of your needs are met. What’s even worse is that you can end up feeling angry and resentful.

Compromise on what you want all day long, but you can never sacrifice what you need. The real problem is that most people don’t know the difference between their needs and wants. It’s possible that passion is a need that you can’t sacrifice. For someone else, passion is something they want, but it’s not necessary to feel fulfilled.

Needs are not qualities of a person, like how tall they are, or whether they share your likes and dislikes. Plenty of happy couples have different hobbies or interests and stay together for a lifetime of happiness and joy.

For love to last it’s imperative that you both value the same things, have the ability to navigate your differences, and have chemistry and attraction.

No one person is going to be everything for you. This unrealistic expectation will put too much pressure on the relationship. So how do you know if you’re settling or if you’re making a wise choice?

13 Signs You’re Settling For Less Than You Deserve

  1. You’re Afraid Of Being Alone

Are you a serial monogamist who jumps from relationship to relationship? Your fear of being alone has you rushing to exclusivity even before you know if someone is right for you or not. Just because you find each other attractive, and they seem like a good person doesn’t mean it’s time to take your dating profile down.

Are you settling in your relationship because you don’t like being alone? It could mean that you have low self-esteem and you’re hoping your partner will fill that empty space inside of you. No one can make you happy, only you can do that. If you’re looking for a partner to fill you up, you’ll tie yourself to the first person who takes interest in you. This leads to short-term relationships that never last.

  1. You Put Your Partner’s Comfort Above Your Own Needs

If you’re staying because you don’t want to hurt your partner then you’re settling. Every person deserves to be partnered up with someone who is crazy about them. There’s a lid for every pot and your partner deserves that too. Your wish not to hurt them isn’t doing them any favors. You’re keeping them tied to you under false pretense. Ultimately, they want you to be ridiculously happy not settling for less than your true heart’s desire.

If you’re settling in your relationship because you’re afraid of hurting your partner, tear off the band-aid so that both of you can heal and move on.

  1. You Avoid Conflict

Conflict can feel uncomfortable but avoiding it doesn’t make it go away. Avoiding conflict creates an emotional distance between you that will grow larger over time and eventually be the reason you grow apart.

Are you settling in your relationship because you’re avoiding uncomfortable conversations with your partner? Addressing your differences may lead the two of you to grow closer. If not, then you have the information you need to move on.

  1. You’re Compromising Your Values

Compromising your values is a recipe for tension and turmoil in a relationship. Life will always bring challenges whether you’re single or in a partnership. How you address those challenges is determined by your values. If you and your partner don’t share the same values, it will be difficult to navigate the curveballs that are inevitably thrown, and you’ll struggle to get back on the same page.

Love cannot last if you two don’t share the same values. You can disagree on less important things in life, but if you’re settling in your relationship by compromising your values you’ll end up angry and resentful well before it finally ends.

  1. You’re Ignoring Deal-Breakers

Chemistry and attraction can often blind you to the fact that your partner cannot meet your needs. Don’t let your passion cause you to ignore red flags and deal-breakers. Take off the rose-colored glasses and see your partner for who they really are. Settling can also mean you’ve rushed in with your heart and didn’t allow your head to evaluate if the two of you are a match long-term.

You’re setting yourself up for heartbreak if you rush in when passion is high and you’re still in the romance stage of relationship. Take time before going exclusive to discover an ideal match.

  1. You’re Afraid Time Is Passing You By

The fear that you’re being left behind or that you’ll lose out on having a family is a powerful motivator for settling — don’t! Never marry someone because all your friends are married, or because your biological clock is ticking. You’ll regret rushing into a commitment and starting a family with someone you can’t be with long-term. Families are created in many ways, and you’ll be grateful you waited for the right person to figure out all those details.

Are you settling in your relationship because you fear you’ll miss your chance? This is a recipe for ending up divorced or in a constant power struggle, it’s best to wait to find an ideal match so you can share your life with the love of your life.

  1. You Expect Your Partner To Change

Is there a big BUT in your relationship? He/she’s great, but ____(fill in the blank)____. Do you imagine you’ll get them to change once you’re married? That you’ll be able to fix that thing that annoys you? In reality, that thing that’s a nuisance will only bother you more and more the longer you’re together creating a wedge between you.

Expecting your partner to change after a commitment is a bait and switch. You’re presenting yourself as one way only to change the rules once you’re married. If you can’t accept your partner as is, then move on and find someone who fits the vision of your ideal relationship. You can’t settle for a lifetime with someone.

  1. You’ve Given Up Your Passions

Have you quit your favorite hobby because your partner doesn’t like you spending so much time away from them? Maybe you’ve told yourself that it’s not really that important as long as you stay together. Giving up your passions will only breed anger and resentment over time. Plus, you’ll end up sacrificing those activities that feed your soul and keep you happy.

Are you settling in your relationship because your partner doesn’t support your passions? Find someone who either shares your aspirations or supports you in pursuing them.

  1. You’re Choosing Comfort Over Satisfaction

If your relationship is comfortable but not satisfying you’re settling and there’s no way to make love last. Your ideal relationship should feel safe as well as comfortable, however, if you don’t feel satisfied something is missing, and that something will gnaw away at you and drive a wedge between you.

If lack of safety played a role in your upbringing and has continued in your adult romantic partnerships, then settling for safety can be very appealing. Unfortunately, you can’t settle for a lifetime and that’s why your needs are never negotiable. Healing your wounds from childhood is an inner experience (not one that occurs in partnership); it’s a solo journey. Once you feel safe in the world, then you can choose a partner who provides more than just safety in your relationship so you can get all your needs met.

  1. You Don’t Feel Chemistry Or Attraction

Chemistry, attraction, passion, whatever word you use to describe that feeling of excitement when you think of your partner, is not something you can sacrifice for love to last. It’d be like trying to make bread without yeast, and you’d end up with a cracker and never feel satisfied.

Attraction is most important at the beginning of a relationship as it’s the gas that keeps you going when you end up in the inevitable power struggle stage of a relationship. If you’re settling in your relationship because you think you can forego chemistry, then you’re trying to keep your relationship alive on an empty tank. Are you settling in your relationship? If you’re focused on the fact that attraction may wane over time (particularly after having children), it’s important to remember that it’s the glue that holds couples together for a lifetime.

  1. You’re Tolerating Bad Behavior

Don’t settle because you don’t think you deserve better. A partner who is disrespectful, who doesn’t value you, or who is openly contemptuous of you isn’t going to suddenly change and treat you better. You teach someone how to treat you from the moment you meet them. Make sure you never tolerate bad behavior. You deserve to be with someone that loves and values you, not someone who takes you for granted.

If you’re caught in a cycle of settling in your relationship by tolerating bad behavior, the underlying issue is a lack of self-esteem. A part of you believes you’re not worthy of someone who treats you better. Before looking for a mate, grow your self-respect and self-esteem. Once you believe that you are worthy of being loved it will be easy to find an ideal partner who treats you with kindness and respect.

  1. You’re The Only One Making An Effort

Relationships don’t just magically work out over time; they take attention and effort from both partners to continue to flourish. If your partner isn’t making an effort to communicate better, help around the house, or work through issues together, then they’re sending you a clear signal that the relationship is not a priority for them.

Are you settling in your relationship by putting in all the effort? The most valuable resource you have is time. If your partner isn’t putting effort into the relationship you’re going to burn out. You can’t motivate them on your own, they need to want to make an effort with you. Never settle for someone who isn’t committed to improving the relationship.

  1. You’re Sacrificing Your Needs

Love does not equal sacrifice in a relationship between two adults. Certainly, parents will sacrifice for their children and that is appropriate. Unfortunately, many people think that sacrifice is part of the deal when it comes to romantic love. If you’re wondering, “Am I settling in my relationship?” the first question you have to ask yourself is whether or not your needs are being met.

Attraction and deep love do not come with mindreading powers. If you think the right person will intuit your needs and wants you’re holding onto a fantasy, an unrealistic expectation that no person could ever meet. Speak up for yourself and make requests to discover if your partner is willing and capable of meeting your needs. This is an essential part of the dating process (that most people skip or have no idea how to implement).

If you’re settling in your relationship because you think you can do without your needs, then you’re breeding anger and resentment that will doom the relationship. Your needs must be met and you can compromise on your wants.

This isn’t to say that you should create a long list of qualities and expect to receive everything on the list, every relationship requires some give and take. Ask for what’s significant and leave room to negotiate the extras.

Are you unsure of the difference between your needs vs. your wants? Maybe you’re on the fence if you should stay or go. Maybe you’re stuck in a pattern of settling and you believe you’ll never find someone to meet your needs.

If you want to make sure you never settle again, and you’re clear on the difference between your needs and your wants join us for a complimentary Soulmate Strategy Session, and we’ll help you identify your hidden blocks to lasting love. We’ve helped thousands of clients evaluate an ideal match and 100% of our married clients are still happily married (even after a global pandemic). Click here now for your private call with us.

About the authors

Love Coaches Orna and Matthew Walters

Orna and Matthew Walters are soulmate coaches and prolific writers about love. Finding love, keeping love, healing from heartbreak, bringing in your beloved and more. They have been published on MSN, Yahoo!, YourTango, Redbook, and have been featured guest experts on BRAVO’s THE MILLIONAIRE MATCHMAKER with Patti Stanger, and as guests with Esther Perel speaking about love and intimacy.

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