Why do we settle?

Why do we settle?

Last night I went for what was supposed to be a quick dinner with my colleague which turned into a three hour conversation around his relationship with his long term girlfriend.

They’ve been living together since the start of this year and have started talking about marriage, but like so many couples, he’s unhappy, he’s not sure if she’s the one. In his words ‘I’ve just found someone that is OK and I will mold her into what I want over the years.’
Is it just me or does that sound desperately tragic? Perhaps I’m just a hopeless romantic, I think my parents are partly to blame as they have been together for 28 years and are still madly in love.

But surely comments like the ones my colleague made are the reason why we have stats like ‘50% of marriages end in divorce.’ If people are aware well before they marry someone that they’re not ‘the one’ then it’s no surprise those relationships end in divorce.

Which got me thinking, why do so many people settle in relationships and ultimately marriage? What makes them stop looking for that person that they connect with in a way they can’t with anyone else?

I whittled down the reasons to these:

People are scared: of the alternative of breaking up with our current partner – of being alone – for some reason we have this perception that being by yourself is some terrifying, horrible experience that can perfectly justify staying with someone that is just ‘ok.’
People are conscious of time:- especially women, we all have that biological ticking clock as we enter our 30’s and witness most of our friends getting married and having children; we are filled with fear that we will ‘miss out.’ So we settle, for someone we know isn’t quite right, but at least we will no longer be the only singleton at weddings.
People are in denial:– we justify the differences and issues between ourselves and our partners in our heads and reassure ourselves that all is better than it seems.
People look to family/friends for reference: – often, but by no means always, we look at the relationships closest to us: parents, siblings, friends and if they don’t appear to be happy, we internalise the idea that its almost expected to be with someone that isn’t necessarily right for you, but you get along with well enough.
The notion of marriage being ‘forever’ is a thing of the past: – as proved by the growing number of divorce rates, it is becoming more acceptable to marry two, three, four times.
People are hopeful: – that we will ‘grow’ with our partners. This was something my colleague mentioned yesterday, he hoped the more years he spent with his partner, the more she would mold and shape into the woman he wanted.
People become complacent:- in the way many do with jobs, dreams and other facets in life, we lose the drive to find something better and accept our situation for what it is.
It would be too messy:- we’ve bought a house, we have a dog, we’ve had two kids. It would be too much of a hassle to upheave all that and start again.
People are willing to keep looking:– again, something mentioned by my colleague yesterday. Despite being in a long term, serious relationship, he always kept his third eye on the look out for the next best thing.

For the first time in a long time after that conversation, I walked away grateful that I was single and not stuck in a miserable relationship that I was too scared to leave.

I by no means believe in ‘the one’ there are 7 billion people in this world, we probably have about 1 million ‘the ones’, but at least I can continue through life with the reassurance in myself that I won’t ever settle. I will wait for the one that I can say, without a moment’s hesitation, they are who I’m meant to be with.



  1. August 26, 2016 / 4:53 pm

    I really appreciate the comment about there not be a “one.” I think that’s the biggest problem. We fall in love during a honeymoon phase and then when we find out the other person is human (as your friend did when they moved in together), we can’t admit that this is who they were all along and accept their faults, but instead assume we’ve chosen the wrong “one.” In my dating experience, this is most harmful to our happiness.

    • August 26, 2016 / 9:55 pm

      Thank you, I’m glad you liked the article! Exactly – I agree, it is very harmful and happens on too many frequent occasions. Whilst noone is perfect and we all have to learn to compromise in relationships we also have to learn where to draw the line when we discover how dissimilar we actually are from the person we’re dating.

  2. August 27, 2016 / 8:56 am

    Great post! 😊 A lot of it I think is people can’t handle being alone. Being single is perceived wrongly as though it’s a bad thing. I often get “why are you single? What’s wrong with you?”. My simple response is its better to be alone than with the wrong person. If you settle for someone you aren’t really into then you are leading yourself into misery, regret and a future divorce.

    • August 30, 2016 / 12:41 pm

      I completely agree with you – I’m only 25 but all my friends are starting to get married and move in with their partners and judge me for still being single.

      A friend once told me:
      If you are single you are one step away from a happy relationship.
      Whereas if you’re in an unhappy relationship you are 4 steps away:
      realise relationship is wrong – break up – move on/get over the person – find someone else.

      • August 30, 2016 / 12:56 pm

        Yeah I am 25 too. You feel as though you are being left behind and many of my old friends have now pretty much disappeared as they have settled down.

        I guess it’s just people’s natural instincts, some people live solely live to find love whereas others live for other things such as a career or personal achievements. Just don’t rush or feel judged because everyone’s journey should be unique 😊

        • August 30, 2016 / 1:18 pm

          I completely agree – some make it their primary focus and are looking more to fill every piece of their puzzle rather than look for the right person for them.

          Thank you I won’t do – right back at you 🙂

  3. December 8, 2016 / 11:53 pm

    100% I’ve learned a lot from divorce and dating and haven’t been through the wringer to settle for anything less than amazing!

  4. December 9, 2016 / 6:38 pm

    This is so true! It is a preconceived notion that being single is being alone and miserable. On the contrary, being single is fun and hassle free. I’ll rather wait and be in one right relationship than be stuck in a wrong one and look for ‘the one’ just out of fear of being alone.

    • December 13, 2016 / 5:25 pm

      Exactly! Being alone is actually quite fun – you can do what you want, whenever you want. It’s a time to be selfish and not have to answer to others!

  5. January 7, 2017 / 2:01 pm

    It’s so true. I’ve settled one too many times in my life and wasted years. Even though it took me time to realize that no one made me settle but myself and I was the one in control. A lot of the reason why I did settle was because I felt bad. I didn’t want them to have to fend for themselves. What???!! Yes, I am more of a mothering type of nurture person and figured out that I was more like a caretaker than anything else. Lol I’m so glad I woke up. .

    • Giulia
      January 8, 2017 / 6:44 pm

      Thank you for sharing this Jeana! 🙂 I think alot fo woman are the nurturing motherly types (I think I am too!) my mum nicknames me Theresa (as in Mother Teresa) as she thinks I’m always trying to help troubled men! I’m glad you’re not settling anymore!

  6. January 31, 2017 / 10:53 am

    I’m glad I’m not stuck in a miserable relationship either! So many people stay for their own reasons not realizing they are doing more damage. The longer you stay the harder it is to leave, especially if you have kids or hate being alone.,I’m glad I’m single and don’t have kids right now. Not sure if I ever will.

    • Giulia
      January 31, 2017 / 6:45 pm

      Exactly! I think people forget that, it’s better to get out earlier than let it drag on for years and waste time.

  7. February 15, 2017 / 9:35 pm

    I would never just settle for someone, people think having someone is better than having nobody but I don’t think this is right at all. You shouldn’t just settle and you should wait until the right person comes along as you’ll know straight away when they do, don’t get me wrong they don’t have to be perfect in every way but you just know when you really like someone and shouldn’t just go along with it for the sake of it

    • Giulia
      February 16, 2017 / 12:25 pm

      Exactly! It’s better to be single on Valentines day but have a great day with your friends, then to celebrate with someone that disrespects and undermines you but you stay with them because you’re scared of the alternative.

      • February 16, 2017 / 5:57 pm

        I completely agree!!

    • Giulia
      February 27, 2017 / 2:31 pm

      Thank you very much 🙂

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