Poll: Did you ever find yourself settling for a relationship?
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Have you ever settled in a relationship?
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09-06-2017, 05:53 PM
RE: Have you ever settled in a relationship?
I don't know how to answer the question because it depends on what one means by "settled". I don't see how you could be in a reasonably intimate relationship with another human being and not have to compromise or accommodate at times. How much is too much, is highly individual. But there WILL be some "settling" and it's unrealistic to suggest that one could "never settle". People who tell you they have "never settled" are either bullshitting you or using people and throwing them away.

I was raised and socialized to value devotion and loyalty and believe that long term relationships require that both parties refuse to go to certain places. As soon as you start extemporizing aloud in front of your S.O. that you wish you hadn't gotten married or that you hate them or whatever then you have already, in my view, quit making an effort. NO ONE is that bad by contrast with YOU. Ever hear of the book I'm okay, you're okay? Well my sequel would be I suck, you suck.

The flip side of course is that you can be loyal to a fault and to your detriment or even the detriment of your partner or your offspring. And there is no universal way to determine when you've crossed that line.

There is also the problem that there's a non-zero, substantial emotional cost in ending such a relationship, and it's always hard to determine which will exact more of a toll -- the relationship, which always seems to hold out the promise of better days just around the next corner or three -- or the collapse of the relationship, where you always wonder if you gave up too soon, and, of course, miss the good bits.

So I stayed in my first marriage for example for 15 years, which was probably at least 13 years too long in retrospect, but I was young, didn't fully know myself, inexperienced, full of religious ideation, etc., and, yes, loyal to a fault, so I stuck it out until there was just no other conclusion to draw but that it was doomed. And that was around the same time that it became harmful to me and to my children to attempt to maintain the relationship.

My second marriage was 13 years and she died at the end. We had a really good relationship in every respect, particularly when you factor out the final 8 years or so of grinding illness. She did not suffer fools kindly, including me, so we had our moments, but I think if we could have led a more normal life together we both would have had a lot more life force to devote to personal growth. I certainly "settled" in some selfish absolute sense because I was her sole caregiver for years and it was a real slog. I don't consider that a bad thing. I loved her; she needed me. There was nothing to weigh.

My current relationship has been 8 years, technically married less than a year. Now the shoe is on the other foot. I am having a hard time with the loss of my son last summer and inadvertently taking it out on her at times and this tends to push her childhood family-of-origin buttons and she sometimes panics and wants to run. Is she "settling"? God, who knows. Maybe she is. I can't think of any planet where it would be a good, quality-of-life improving move for her to stop "settling", objectively, but yes, this is the real world, when people sometimes make decisions for poor reasons and where Shit Happens.

As to "what I deserve", I am not sure how one would determine that. In my generally Kafkaesque experience with life partners, one minute they can be completely exasperated with you to the point of relationship-ending talk and in the next minute they can tell you what an incredibly good person you are. Or ... from my perspective at least, I can do the exact same thing on two different days and get two completely different reactions. Ask any ten people what I "deserve" and you'll get ten different answers.

Besides, I'm to the point in life where I've figured out that you don't, except in the weakest and flakiest possible fashion, ever get "what you deserve", good or bad. Stuff just happens.

So ... shy of consistent intended cruelty, it isn't going to be me who asks to get out of a relationship, you can take that to the bank. I'll continue to "settle", thanks.
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09-06-2017, 10:03 PM
RE: Have you ever settled in a relationship?
Hmmm .. "settled" for "less than I deserve"? That is a toughie. What really do I deserve? How would I know? Is this entitlement enforceable?

I've been in several relationships in which I came to realize there was something about the other person which wasn't what I wanted and I got out. I've been in relationships in which the other person came to realize the same thing and got out. [As an aside, which is worse? I think it may be about equal.]

But the one thing I feel most strongly about is there isn't just one person for us and we just have to keep looking until we find the 'special'. That I am sure is total crap. There are any number of people with whom one could make quite an acceptable life. Or, it there isn't, that may say more about how difficult we are. Perhaps if we are too difficult we lose our entitlement to what we think we deserve?

Just FYI, I was married for three years in my early twenties, divorced, dated for a few years and then married again at 29. That one is still going strong 34 years later. I don't think I "settled" the first time. I'd say I didn't know myself well enough to identify a good match and therefore made a subpar choice. The second choice was much better made and based on much better self knowledge. I think we always 'deserve' the consequences of our choices and that helps us to learn from them.

“Tiger got to hunt, bird got to fly;
Man got to sit and wonder 'why, why, why?'
Tiger got to sleep, bird got to land;
Man got to tell himself he understand.”

― Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle
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