Can I ask you a personal question? Are you settling? In your love life, are you settling for something that is okay rather than striving for something that is extraordinary? Have you ever, in the stillness of a date night or on the morning of New Year's day gotten a glimpse of the truth? The truth that maybe you don't love him the way he deserves to be loved, that he doesn't love you the way you deserve to be loved?
I remember in past relationships feeling that way. I found myself questioning what happiness was in the context of a loving relationship. I wondered if I was just going through a rough patch or if my relationship had an expiry date and it had been exceeded. How could I love someone as if he were my family but have a nagging feeling that I had to leave?
In our culture, it is very easy to settle. There are a lot of voices out there that say:
The world is an uncertain place.
At least you have someone.
Why let go of a sure thing for something that may not even exist?
Some of these voices come from other people, and some come from deep within ourselves. These voices stop us from finding a great love and let too many of us settle for good enough.
What are you afraid of?
When we settle, we are acting out of fear. There are so many fears that stop us from trying for a great love, but one of the strongest is fear of the unknown. Even if you know this may not be the perfect partner for you longterm, at least there is certainty in the comfort of companionship. You know what to expect from your OK relationship. If you are going to try for big love, you have to get comfortable with not knowing. You have to jump without knowing where you will land. You might not know what a great relationship looks like for you. You might have to do some trial and error to figure out what your big love looks and feels like. Living with uncertainty is scary, but it is the only way to make it to the big reward of big love.
"Love is what we were born with. Fear is what we learned here." - Marianne Williamson, Author.
What will other people think?
Another fear that gets in the way of trying to find real love is the fear of what other people will think. Even if you think you don't care about other peoples' opinions, likely, some part of you does. When you leave a perfectly fine relationship to try and find a great love, you make yourself vulnerable to other peoples' judgment. The world at times is not a kind place for single men or women. Everything, when you are single, seems as though it is built for two.
Letting go of the fear of what others will think is no easy feat. It takes stillness. It takes bravery. It takes vulnerability. Some stay because of the fear of being alone. But what is lonelier than being in a relationship that you know is not all that you want? What is more lonely than being with someone who does not see you clearly and love you for all that you are? Fear of being alone is real, but it is not a good enough reason to settle.
"When you love a person all fear disappears. And when you are afraid, all love disappears." - Osho, Guru.
But I've already invested so much time and energy into this relationship!
This is one of the biggest roadblocks to finding real love, and it has a very un-sexy name. It is called the "sunk cost fallacy." For example, if you purchase a shirt and you cannot get your money back, that is a sunk cost. If you get the shirt home and realize it does not look good on you, but you wear it anyway because you have already spent the money, you are falling victim to the sunk cost fallacy. That money is gone and you cannot get it back.
You are just making your life worse by wearing an ugly shirt. It is the same in relationships. You have already spent the time with your romantic partner. If the only reason you have for staying is because you have invested time and energy that you cannot get back, you need to cut ties.
Cutting ties does not have to be as brutal as it sounds. There is a way to have a respectful and kind break up that honours the history you shared with your partner. That time with your partner was not wasted. It was time that showed you more about who you are and what you want in life.
Your partner was your family at one point. That relationship will likely have to evolve so you can remain family. Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin got a lot of flack for their "conscious uncoupling" strategy, but what a wonderful break up to aspire to. It would be a different world if we could find a way to let go of the romantic love in a relationship while holding on to the friendship and family love that exists.
A friend of mine recently left her marriage after twenty years. She had stayed for the kids and stayed for the amount of time and effort she had put in, but one day she woke up and could not stay any more. She and her ex-husband have worked hard to remain on good terms for their children. She is in her fifties and she found someone who makes her light up. It is never too late. No amount of time and effort invested is worth wasting more of your time and effort.
"I can't think of anything lonelier than spending the rest of my life with someone I can't talk to, or worse someone I can't be silent with." - Mary Ann Shaffer, Writer.
Settling hurts everyone
When we settle, we are not doing anyone any favours. Settling keeps us from finding real love, keeps us from growing and learning..but we also prevent our partners from finding someone who truly loves them. Who are you not to let your partner find someone who loves them fully and completely? Who are you to not try for that kind of love for yourself?
With new relationships comes spiritual growth. Finding the right person can help us become the people we were meant to become. When we demand real love for ourselves, we give other people permission to do the same. What are you waiting for? Stop settling and find yourself the love you deserve!
Are you settling in your love life? Have you ever left a good enough relationship to find great love? How did you get through it? Tweet me @NatashaNKPR or comment below!
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