Two people meet, fall in love, get into a relationship, and then walk hand-in-hand toward a happily ever after.
Isn’t this what we all envision for our romantic relationships? But is this even possible?
In a dreamy world, yes. In the real world, no.
A real relationship is way more than some romantic conversations, great sex, fun, and adventure. Real relationships are made up of needs, wants, desires, values, life aspirations, getting through life’s challenges, learning to have tough conversations around all of these, navigating conflict in a meaningful way, and striving to find your way back to each other despite all the odds.
They’re about two people walking on their own paths toward something common, which is their relationship, and knowing when to stay on their own track, when to come to the middle, and when to move to the other side completely. They’re not just about walking together.
Sometimes you run, skip, get together and dance, slow down, or just sit.
You do all this and more while trying to balance three entities: you, your partner, and your relationship.
Hence, relationships take a lot of work and they can only be steered in the right direction when both people are willing to do their bit. Even though they involve a lot of adjustments and compromise from both sides, in a well aligned relationship, it doesn’t feel heavy.
Problems arise when one person is doing all the adjusting and compromising. After a point, the relationship begins to feel like a load instead of being the space where we’re supposed to unload.
A lot of times, we don’t realise when we’ve become the ones doing all the adjusting without getting enough in return. Then, instead of settling in the relationship, we become the ones settling for the relationship.
Sadly, for so many individuals, life goes by like this. Some don’t even have an idea of whether a relationship is actually good for them or not. For others, when they do realise it, it’s probably too difficult or too late to do anything about it.
So many of us end up settling for a relationship rather than settling in one.
When you feel settled in a relationship, you feel at ease with yourself and your partner. It feels like home. There is warmth, comfort, presence, and connection. All three entities i.e you, your partner, and your relationship grow and flourish together. Even when you are making any adjustment or compromise, you do it with a sense of ease and comfort. You know that looking out for your partner and the relationship is in your interest as well and you trust the fact that your partner is also going to do the same for you. You can be yourself, and your relationship facilitates your journey toward your own self as well. Your partner and relationship feel enough.
“A healthy relationship is a feast of affection/giving for both people; not one receiving crumbs and trying to convince themselves its enough.” ~ Shannon Thomas
However, settling for a relationship is the complete opposite. When you settle for a relationship, there is always this nagging feeling that something is missing. No matter how hard you try, it just doesn’t feel enough.
Along with that you also feel:
1. Dissatisfied with the relationship.
2. You have constant thoughts about ending the relationship, yet you struggle to take a step. You feel ambivalent toward the relationship.
3. Your fear of being alone forces you to stay and you may find solace in the small things in the relationship even when you know it’s not enough.
4. You keep overcompensating for your partner.
5. Your relationship occupies the majority of the space in your life, which makes it difficult for you to focus on other areas of your life.
6. You feel you aren’t growing.
7. You don’t feel like yourself and often don’t allow yourself to express your thoughts, emotions, and needs fully. You’re also afraid of being vulnerable with your partner because you feel you don’t have the space to be that way.
8. You keep making excuses for your partner.
9. No matter how hard you try, you’re just not happy and there is an inexplicable emptiness that’s always gripping you.
10. You often compare your relationship to others and wish it were different.
11. You keep having the same arguments over and over again with no effort or resolution in sight.
The only way to know whether you’re settling in or settling for a relationship is to have a solid relationship with yourself first. Your relationship is an extension of you. If you don’t invest in yourself and inculcate a sense of love and appreciation for yourself, you’ll never know what feels enough. You’ll always find yourself setting for less than relationships out of the fear that you’ll be left alone and may not be good enough to deserve a good relationship.
That’s why it’s important for each one of us to first come home to ourselves each day, every day.
“Your relationship with yourself sets the tone for every other relationship you have.” ~ Robert Holden
We need to keep investing in ourselves so that we can become more self-aware, understand ourselves better, and strengthen the belief that we do deserve a good relationship that feels enough and fullfiling.
Then, we won’t settle for a relationship. Rather, we will settle in a relationship that feels like home.
“My primary relationship is with myself all others are mirrors of it. As I learn to love myself, I automatically receive the love and appreciation that I desire from others. If I am committed to myself and to living my truth, I will attract others with equal commitment. My willingness to be intimate with my own deep feelings creates the space for intimacy with another. As I learn to love myself, I receive the love I desire from others.” ~ Shakti Gawain