Eventually, in every relationship, the initial butterflies you feel around a person fade.
That's not to say the attraction died or the love disappeared forever.
No, it just means your relationship has hit the next level. The two of you have grown comfortable with each other. That initial excitement factor has faded a little bit.
A common mistake at this point, however, is to automatically assume it's time to call it quits. If your stomach isn't doing jumping jacks every time his name pops up on your phone, then OBVIOUSLY something is up, right?! Wrong.
The fact that you're comfortable with your significant other does not automatically translate to you settling for a relationship that's no longer worth your time.
Obviously, I don't know you or your relationship. There is a chance you're settling here. But at least let me try my best to help you out by highlighting the difference between settling and being comfortable.
Settling involves sacrificing part of yourself. Being comfortable lets you be your full self.
Settling happens when you start to feel like you're losing little bits of yourself.
That doesn't necessarily mean your partner is actively trying to change you, but it could even be you feeling like you have to dim your shine down a bit because he wouldn't "get" you or where you're coming from.
On the other hand, being comfortable leaves you feeling like you can be more yourself than you've ever been with anyone. You can show this person any and all sides of you without worrying you might lose him.
It can feel like settling because it inherently means that all those games that kept things so exciting in the beginning are gone.
There's no more freaking out when he doesn't text you back for a few hours because you trust that he'll eventually respond. There's no more asking your friends to analyze every interaction you have because you know him well enough to interpret for himself.
So, yeah, it's natural to confuse that lack of gut-wrenching nerve wrecking "excitement" for boredom or settling.
But in reality, it means you've hit the best part of your relationship. You've finally hit the part where you can chill the eff out and enjoy being in love.
Settling is overlooking your partner's imperfections. Being comfortable is accepting them.
At the beginning of a relationship, you're usually too blinded by your initial attraction to your partner to notice what's wrong with them.
But unfortunately, we're all human beings with flaws, so as time goes on, we start to see our partners for who they really are — flaws and all.
There are two roads we can go down at this point.
On the one hand, your partner's flaws can infuriate you, and you can choose to stay in the relationship despite them because, well, you like the companionship. That is settling.
On the other hand, you can accept your partner — flaws and all — and use their flaws to fall even more in love with them than you were before.
Instead of holding back and letting their flaws silently infuriate you, you can call them out if something really bothers you without being afraid of offending them.
Instead of just begrudgingly tolerating their flaws, you love your partner for the flawed freak he is. That is being comfortable.
Settling involves giving up on your dreams. Being comfortable gives you someone to chase your dreams with.
Settling involves giving up on that dream you had to travel across the globe or become an international pop sensation because that doesn't fit in with this new life you've chosen for yourself.
In other words, your dreams don't align with your life with him, so you have to cancel them out.
Being comfortable, however, gives you COURAGE to chase your dreams with more fervor than you ever did before.
Suddenly, you have someone on your team who believes in you and is urging you to move forward.
Instead of feeling like you're being held back by someone who doesn't really "get" you, you have the person who gets you more than anyone else in the world, pushing you to do whatever it takes to turn your dreams into reality without fear of losing him.
Settling involves ignoring your gut. Being comfortable involves questioning it.
When you settle, you know you're settling.
As much as you might try to lie to yourself and talk yourself out of it, there's something deep down inside of you that knows what you have with this person isn't real. You're just there because it's easy.
Now, that isn't to say you don't overthink things from time to time when you're comfortable. We're all human. We all have minds that go into overdrive.
But when you question your relationship with the person you're comfortable with, you come back to the same conclusion every time: Your life is better with him in it, and that's why you stay.
Settling gives you a partner. Being comfortable gives you a friend.
Settling gives you a body to fill the role of "boyfriend." It gives you a plus-one to events. It gives you someone to hang out with when all your friends are out. And it gives you a body to keep you warm on those cold, winter nights.
Being comfortable with someone gives you a friend. It gives you someone in your life whom you genuinely want to spend time with.
It gives you someone who's more than a crush, whom you're excited about and who's more than a boyfriend you wanted: a friend.
The line that separates being comfortable from settling can be a blurry one, especially when it's your first time being truly comfortable with someone.
But it's SO important that you don't jump to conclusions and end something potentially really wonderful because you didn't realize how lucky you were.
By the same token, it's SO important that you don't jump to conclusions and stay in something potentially really awful because you didn't realize how unhappy you were.
For the sake of your own relationship, take the time to figure out what's really going on.