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Opinion: The don’ts and don’ts of settling

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Have a problem with love or life in general? Send Ogonna your questions at askogonna@gmail.com and get them answered here in her column. You can also tweet her at @askogonna.


Settling in a relationship is a slap in the face to our own self-worth.

The act of settling takes on various definitions from “sitting” to “agreeing” to “becoming more focused.” When it comes to relationships, the definition I would like to use of the word settle is, “to gradually sink down under one’s own weight.”

Basically, I believe that settling for someone who is not what you want in a partner will cause you to sink below the worth you give yourself.

Now, what settling is not is this: Settling is not staying with someone in spite of their differences, or overlooking mistakes because you love them. Settling is not compromising on likes and dislikes, where to eat for dinner, or what to do on a date.

Settling is continuing to pursue a relationship that does not make you happy, that leaves you wanting more than what you had hoped for, and overall leaves you questioning your own wants, needs, and values as an individual.

So why do we settle if it makes us unhappy?

Many times, it’s because of fear. We’re scared to be single. We’re scared of the other person being single because we might be all that person has. We’re scared that who we have at the moment is the best we can obtain for ourselves. We settle for what is here in the present and don’t want to hold out for a future. It’s too risky to let go of what we have in uncertain hopes of finding something else.

There’s a difference between settling for a relationship that leaves you unhappy, and settling for someone, flaws and all, because you love them. We’re human. We’re imperfect. We all set standards for ourselves and consequently for the type of person we want to be with. It’s easy to get caught up in being idealistic, to get sucked into the perfectionism that our society deems is the road to happiness.

But we have to find a happy medium on this scale of flawed to perfection. Setting standards that resemble the likes of Prince Charming may be a tad ridiculous, but settling for someone who doesn’t respect you is the extreme opposite.

So, how do you know if you’re settling? The cop-out answer is leaving it up for you to decide. But a hint could be this: are you better and happier and free to be yourself when you are with your significant other? If not, these might be warning signs. If you find yourself pointing out all of the things you dislike about your significant other or your relationship, but reason yourself back to a state of calmness, that’s also a red alert.

It’s completely fine to realize that person isn’t right for you by no fault of their own, but don’t let yourself stay in that relationship just because you’re scared of what could happen when you leave. You’re responsible for putting people in your life who make you happy, and if your significant other doesn’t, it might be time to move on.

To quote “Perks of Being a Wallflower,” one of my favorite tearjerkers, “we accept the love we think we deserve.” While we all have different desires in life and in relationships, I think it’s fair to say that, at the minimum, we all deserve happiness.

One comment

  1. This is what I believe happened to my child and why my child couldn’t wait to get the h@ away from buckeye teammates. See my child “settled” for the ignorance and childishness to “get along” but couldn’t wait to run home after graduation! Don’t get me wrong the “buckeye” experience was amazing but dealing with teammates with petty personalities was a nightmare! I think it’s sad to bring home the first title in OSU history but barely talk to the team of such an accomplishment! I tell my children “Be careful what you say in anger because some words can’t be taken back or forgiven” and one former teammate, I have told my child to never forgive!! So readers when you “settle” in any relationship think maybe it might be better to be honest and walk away into happiness…….

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