After many failed relationship attempts, I started to think that maybe I've been a little too picky in terms of dating.
I had been in relationships with several great and good looking guys, who all had plenty of wonderful qualities. I was reminded constantly by my friends and family that each one was a "great catch."
When I would find myself feeling sad or lonely in those past relationships, I just wrote my feelings off as being too needy, or too emotional.
I once even had an ex tell me straight up that I ask for way too much, so I started thinking that maybe he was right and I would just be lonely forever.
I started to think that maybe I complained about things that others just dealt with and I needed to suck it up. Maybe, when I thought something was "missing" from the relationship, it was really just a bad judgment call. Maybe my boyfriends really were treating me well, and I was the one who needed to try harder.
The fear of being alone and the risk of losing someone who was potentially a great fit for me was always far too great to just end the relationship. After all, being single would mean starting over.
It was convenient and I felt loved just enough so that I could settle in order to avoid the fear of being alone, or feeling unwanted.
But no matter how great my relationships may have seemed on the outside, I couldn't shake the feeling that there was something greater out there.
I needed someone who accepted the things I was asking for, and didn't make me feel bad about them. I knew that there would be someone willing to provide them, because that is what I knew I deserved.
The guys who seemingly gave me the most, turned out to value our relationship the least and it wasn't until after the relationships ended that I realized it.
Here's how to realize you are settling instead of getting the love that you deserve:
1. You constantly make excuses.
By pretending I was happy and trying my hardest to convince every one around me that my relationship was great, I was actually covering up real problems.
I found myself constantly defending the guys I was with, saying they were just confused or going through a hard time. No matter how upset or hurt I got, I always made it my own problem, and put on my best face.
The more frequently you make excuses for someone, the more you encourage and help to enable their behavior.
When you find yourself constantly needing to forgive your significant other and justifying their actions to others, without genuinely feeling like they deserve it, then you are settling.
2. You no longer feel inspired by the relationship.
Honeymoon phase or not, I believe that you should constantly feel inspired and grow from your relationship.
If you find yourself thinking that you've reached a plateau at a time in your life where there is room for growth, you're probably settling.
Sometimes people are unable to grow with you, because they lack the necessary drive to strive for something greater and settle for comfortability within their own lives.
If you find yourself fantasizing about all the things you can accomplish without your SO, then don't stay in the relationship. There are plenty of other people out there who will motivate you to reach your goals.
3. You even remotely think about being unfaithful.
I'm not even going to start with how often I find people settling when they actually get cheated on in their relationship.
But if it is even a thought that either person is having, then you're not only settling, you also aren't being fair to yourself or your SO.
Whether you're comparing your relationship to others, find yourself wanting to flirt with the cute guy or girl at the bar or you think about being intimate with someone else, you're settling.
4. You feel like something has to change.
Whether you think that you have to change something about yourself in order to be happy, or think your partner needs to change, they're both signs that you're settling.
Sometimes you may think your partner is perfect and doesn't need to change but instead you think, "Maybe I will be the one to do something differently and save the relationship."
If you constantly find yourself trying to change some aspect of the relationship, you're not truly happy in it.
5. You're more afraid of being alone than losing the person you're with.
If the person you're with drives you absolutely crazy, but you would rather stay with them than risk being alone, your relationship is pretty much the definition of settling.
Picture your life without the person you're with, if you think that you can be happier you shouldn't be with them. The saying that you should love yourself before someone else can love you is so, so real.
Fear of being alone should never be the reason you stay with someone because you then become codependent, and you never learn what it's like to truly be on your own.
6. You feel trapped in your relationship.
I've been in situations where I felt like I couldn't end a relationship, both out of guilt of abandoning someone and fear of having regrets.
I had constant anxiety that things would never get better if I stayed, and yet I thought ending it would make me feel just as bad, if not worse.
There was no light at the end of either dark tunnel, so I just prayed that something would cause the relationship to end so that I didn't have to, or that something would magically make all of our problems go away.
If you secretly feel this way, you're settling. And until you take action for yourself, you'll continue to settle.
7. You're sacrificing your happiness for the relationship.
Sacrificing who you are to benefit someone else is not only unhealthy, it also puts your own happiness at risk.
If you and your partner are constantly having to morph your ideals, beliefs, values, goals or dreams in order to be accepted, then you will never be truly happy.
Relationships are all about being able to accommodate another person into your life and adapting to that person, but think about how much you're giving up to do so.
You should never make your whole life about someone else, and you should never settle for someone who makes you give up who you are.