If you’ve been with your partner for a minute, you might be pretty darn sure you’re in love and that everything is a-OK. And, of course, that’s probably the case. But even for established, happy couples, there are often subtle signs you’re settling in your relationship.
This is especially true since “settling” can mean so many things. In the traditional sense, settling often means winding up with someone who is kinda OK, kinda not. You like them just fine, but they aren’t “the one” you always imagined. You stay together because it’s easy, or it’s convenient. Or, because you’ve learned to love them, despite the fact they aren’t “perfect.” (In this instance, settling doesn’t have to be a bad thing.)
As a second definition, settling can also mean relaxing into a relationship by way of falling into an unhealthy, lazy routine. When you’ve settled in this sense, you may take your poor darling partner for granted, forget to make them your top priority, or accidentally drift apart.
Whatever the case may be for you, it’s definitely worth taking the time to reevaluate things. You can work on (and learn to appreciate) your less-than-perfect relationship. Or, you can part ways. Or, you can put in some extra effort and lift yourself (and your SO) out of an unhealthy rut. Read on for some signs it may be time to do just that.
1. You Tell Everyone Else Your Good News, Then You Tell Your SO
It doesn’t matter if you have good news or bad news — your partner is never the first to know. You’d much rather call your mom when you’re happy, or run to your best friend when you’re sad. And while that’s perfectly fine, your tendency to turn to others may be due to an underlying unhappiness with your SO. If you feel like you’ve settled, you might not care to share your thoughts with your partner. Definitely something worth a closer look.
2. You Find Yourself Putting Up With “Deal Breakers”
Even though you swore you’d never date another smoker, or someone who lacked motivation, you’ve found yourself (once again) dealing with exactly that. If you’re tolerating traits you dislike, it may be a sign that you’re settling in that traditional sense, licensed psychologist Jesse D. Matthews tells me. While your deal breakers can certainly be worked on — and even overlooked for the right person — you certainly don’t have to be with someone whose habits rub you the wrong way.
3. You’re Feeling Pressured By External Timelines
There are a lot of “rules” when it comes to relationships — what age you should marry, when you should have a kid, etc. The pressure is real for a lot people, and it can cause them to settle with someone who isn’t quite right, couples consultant and coach Lesli Doares tells me. So go ahead and examine the reasons why you’re with your partner. Are you with them because you want to be, or because you feel you have to be? Your answer may surprise you.
4. You Romanticize Everyone Else’s Relationship
If you’re constantly drooling over other people’s relationships, or lusting after a romcom-type of love, it may be because you want those feelings for yourself. “Usually when we romanticize other people’s relationships, it’s because we feel disempowered by our own,” says advice columnist and breakup coach Chelsea Leigh Trescott. It might be a sign that you need (and want) to get back out there.
5. You Aren’t Your Partner’s First Priority (And Vice Versa)
Happy couples who are super in love always make each other their top priority. So take note if you feel like your partner puts other people first, relationship expert Dr. Robert Karlsberg tells me. While it’s obviously wonderful that they look out for their friends and family, your partner should always be ready to help you at a moment’s notice. If they can’t or don’t want to, then they might not be the right person for you.
6. You Don’t Look Forward To Hanging Out
Of course you don’t have to spend every waking moment with your SO, but you should definitely want to see them — perhaps even a bit more than everyone else. So take it as a sign if hanging with your partner doesn’t make you happy, Karlsberg tells me. “You are likely just settling and your relationship [may need] a minor adjustment.”
7. You Are With Them Out Of Pure Convenience
Being with your partner should be easy, but you shouldn’t be with them just because it’s easy. In fact, a truly great relationship will be anything but, Trescott tells me. You want to be with someone who challenges you, and who wants to create an interesting future. If that’s not the case, it may be time to get out — or put in a little more effort.
8. They Don’t Want To Chat About Big Decisions
As Karlberg tells me, you should be wary of a partner who goes forth with big decisions without consulting you. It could be a sign that they aren’t taking you — or the relationship — seriously. And you definitely don’t want to settle for that.
9. You Don’t Want To Be Alone
Perhaps the most classic sign of settling is being with someone just so you don’t have to be alone, Janis and Carly Spindel, of the Serious Matchmakers, tell me. While totally understandable in a lot of ways, it can help to figure out what scares you about the idea of being alone. If it seems like you’re with your partner just to avoid those discomforts, it may be time to give ’em a try.
10. You Have Stopped Working On Yourself
Healthy couples encourage each other to improve all the time. So it’s not a great sign if you or your SO have gotten too complacent. “As soon as you feel that all is good enough, that you don’t need to improve, that because someone loves you you can kick back — you have settled in an unhealthy way,” says Joshua Klapow, Ph.D. clinical psychologist and host of The Web, in an email to Bustle.
11. You’ve Stopped Working On The Relationship
In the same vein, relationships are never “done,” either. You’ll never reach a magic point where everything is golden and perfect and set forever. So take note if you and your SO are no longer putting in the work. “If you find yourself not actively building your relationship, then you’re settling,” life coach Danny Zoucha tells Bustle. “I don’t care if you are 89-years-old. If you’re passive about it, you are settling and doing both of you a disservice.”
Did any of that ring a bell? Then start making an effort in your relationship, and in your own life. You, and your partner, will be so much better as a result.