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Is 'settling' always a bad thing?

(159 Posts)
qumquat Wed 21-Nov-12 17:13:18

On one level I absolutely want to marry my DP. We get on like a house on fire, support and care for each other practically and emotionally, want the same things in terms of jobs, children, share interested and friendships, as well as having our own interests and friendships, we share beliefs and hopes about the world and our lives. Sex is the only thing which isn't wonderful at the moment but it is good and improving.
We've talked lots about getting married next summer, pretty much planned the day, named our children, planned where we'd like to live in the future etc etc.

And yet . . . . I still have doubts. Basically because we never had the crazy honeymoon period I've never felt properly 'in love'. I love him deeply but I wouldn't describe myself as 'in love'. Does this matter? I see so many 'in love' relationships where the couple get on so much worse than we do, or they only last a few years (we've outlasted some married friends at 10 years), or they have nothing in common or argue over basic aspirations for life. And of course on MN I see lots of formerly 'in love' couples where there is abuse and betrayal. Am I considering throwing something away that is actually very special?

Obviously the ideal would be to have what I have with DP AND be 'in love', but is the ideal accessible to everyone? I think we're led to believe that it is, but is this just a damaging belief which makes people unhappy as they are aspiring to something only a few very lucky people manage to achieve?

Sorry this became a lot longer than I was expecting. I would really appreciate hearing from others, particularly anyone who's been in a similar situation.

izzyizin Wed 21-Nov-12 17:18:08

Why isn't sex wonderful? Has it ever been 'wonderful'?

noddyholder Wed 21-Nov-12 17:18:41

If you know you are settling before hand it is a sign!

CajaDeLaMemoria Wed 21-Nov-12 17:28:12

Yes, it matters.

I think 75% of relationships die down from being madly in love to just loving each other, and that most of those will survive. At least half. In those cases, the people involved know that it has died down to just loving each other, but loving each other is still big and so they are okay provided that no-one falls in love with someone else.

In your case, if your feelings lessen over the years, you'll be left with friendship.

Is your DP in love with you?

You could be describing me and OHs relationship with your first paragraph, but we did have a crazy intense bit, and we are in love. Both of us. And if I wasn't in love with him but did love him, I'd let him go. I broke up with my ex-boyfriend after 5 years because he both loves and was in love with me, but I only loved him, and he deserved better. He didn't see it at the time, but he does now, and he is happier for it. He deserves the happiness he has now.

I don't think only a few people are ever in love. And of course you hear a lot about relationships that fall apart, because generally those are the people who reach out to other people, because they need help/hand holding/someone to talk too. That's true on here, in real life, on TV...people who don't have issues don't talk about them.

Have you been in love? If you have, I can't really understand how you could think that just loving him was enough. I really don't think it is.

That said, if it's as good as you say, I don't think you should just give up on it either. You might fall in love with him over time, or you might have to make an active effort to try and fall in love with him and see if it happens, or you might never be in love with him at all. But I don't think you should marry him while you aren't in love with him, because you will fall in love with someone, and it'll cause ten times the devastation if you are married or have children.

I'm sure other people's opinions will differ because this is one of those things you have to do for yourself, but I'd hold off on marrying him for a while. You don't need to tell him, just cool it a bit. Because comparing the two situations, I couldn't have stayed with my ex, who I really loved more than anything and had planned a whole future with...we'd even saved a deposit and talked about venues...having met and fallen in love with my OH.

InNeedOfBrandy Wed 21-Nov-12 17:30:50

Yes it does matter.

ISayHolmes Wed 21-Nov-12 17:44:32

I think it does matter, but I completely understand your dilemma at the same time. I think if I was in the same situation I might very well be struggling to know what to do as well. You sound very compatible in terms of aspirations and lifestyle and you obviously care about each other deeply.

I hate to sound all doom and gloom but while you may feel you are going into this with yours eyes open and having decided on settling, in a few years time you might find yourself regretting that decision and wishing you made different choices. At the same time, you may experience things together that make you glad you went ahead with marrying and having children.

I'm not trying to guilt trip, but does he know that you've never really been in love with him? How would he feel about it, do you think?

Also, what do you think is there a lack of (in thoughts of feelings or whatever) that makes you love him but not in love with him?

LadyFoxCustard Wed 21-Nov-12 17:52:23

Have NC because DP knows my usual name.

I could have written most of your post. I love DP absolutely, he is wonderful. But I didn't "fall in love" - in fact I haven't fallen in love for nearly 10 years. I've only ever been really in love with two people - one was a complete bastard and the other I never actually went out with, so could easily be putting him on a grand pedestal.

Some of the time I am fine with this. We've kind of selected each other as appropriate mates - which we definitely are - and we are learning a different sort of "in love" to the "in love" most people have. There are things about DP which I am 99% confident I will never find in another man, and they are absolutely necessary to me having a fun life. It would be lovely to think that everybody could fall in love with someone perfect and marry them and stay married, but the fact is we know they don't. Not only do people break up - some people never find anyone perfect at all. Also, while we've never been "in love", sometimes I think I am dramatising it a bit - I definitely get a rush of love when I look at him sometimes, just not really of the butterflies sort IYKWIM.

Other days I worry. I was at a wedding recently, and the bride and groom were so obviously "in love" it was just almost painful to watch. I just can't imagine ever feeling like that again. If I did break up with DP (which would be unbearable) I'm not sure I'd have the courage to ever date again. I associate the butterflies with pain and rejection I suppose. So it's either that, or what I've got, which is not nothing, by a long stretch.

Totally not helpful, sorry, but I know where you're coming from.

qumquat Wed 21-Nov-12 18:22:27

Lady fox it's very helpful, if only to know someone understands! I know what you mean about the pain at weddings, I get that; but I also am so happy with dp generally... And so the dilemma goes on.

No I've never been in love, apart from unrequited love with a complete b@stard who treated my terribly, so I guess I too associate love with pain, and poor quality control! The chances of falling in love with someone as amazing as dp seem so slim.

Dp knows my concerns about the lack of honeymoon period and 'in love'ness. It doesn't worry him in the way it worries me.

Wecanfixit Wed 21-Nov-12 18:45:12

I think you are lucky to have what you have with your DP right now and that is what matters does it not?, YOU can love people in different ways and I think you know this having had a bad time with another man, the question that arises is for you do YOU want to and can you settle for this?, sorry but only you can answer this good luck to you anyway hope it all works out.

Sheila Wed 21-Nov-12 18:58:45

I don't think the feeling you describe lasts - it's the kind of romantic sickness you have at the very beginning of a relationship, when you don't really know each other. Many couples who've been together for as long as you have would probably struggle to find passion.

If you love your DP and he makes you happy you are incredibly lucky. I am very envious.

Apocalypto Wed 21-Nov-12 19:03:53

The state of being in love is a poor one for making rational decisions about the long term future.

It's like saying "I love you" when you're coming, and then finding it's been taken at face value and now you have to live up to it.*

The risk of "settling" is that after you're married, you find someone who floats your boat. Or, more likely, that he does.

*
You are much better off saying "Oh God oh God oh God oh Gaaammfmmmmmmfffffffffwaaaaaaargh!", which is what you probably meant anyway, and rarely raises expectations as unrealistically high.

noddyholder Wed 21-Nov-12 19:35:14

I have had both types of relationship and for me there is no comparison but I enjoyed being single so it had to really grab me to get me to give that up.

Rouen Wed 21-Nov-12 19:38:52

I see where you're coming from, but I don't think you're giving yourself credit for what your relationship does have. To be honest being 'in love' is easy; deeply loving someone is harder. Imagine life without him. If you can see it and it seems okay, then you should let him go.

Just make sure you're not over-thinking. I think that kills loads of relationships. If you weren't attracted to him, that would be a real problem.

VanderElsken Wed 21-Nov-12 19:46:50

Do you feel safe with him, emotionally and physically? Do you, at heart, respect one another? Can you be attracted to one another? Do you have fun together, not all the time, but you know it's possible when you try? Can you get close and when you do, you both feel good?

If there's a no in any of these, it's settling and the missing element will haunt you later.

Charbon Wed 21-Nov-12 20:27:00

I'd be very wary about committing to a long term relationship under these circumstances, especially with what you say about your sex life:

Sex is the only thing which isn't wonderful at the moment but it is good and improving.

In the 10 years, have you ever reached your sexual potential with your partner?

Do you think that either of you might be possibly vulnerable to someone in the future who makes you feel like the most desirable person on the planet? Someone who makes you insatiable with desire and feelings that you've never had before?

When individuals in long-term relationships go through a crisis like that, what sometimes stops them acting on a crush is that they know that logically, they once felt like that about their partner in the early days. It's much harder to walk away from feelings that are unchartered territory and feel delicious and new.

MyLittleFireBird Wed 21-Nov-12 20:32:28

Yes, IME it matters. I chose XH because we got on so well, sex was good, he was dependable etc etc. I thought that all those solid traits would make for a good husband over the long term, but we were both settling and over the long term, actually you need more than 'good on paper, but that X factor is missing'. It's that love/passion for the other person that really makes it. People seem to think there's 'in love' which is fleeting or there's steady/boring/lasting, but actually there is a 3rd option which is passionate love which is deep enough to also be steady and lasting. Don't settle for something that is missing.

carlywurly Wed 21-Nov-12 20:43:35

This really resonates with me. I definitely settled with xh and it all went wrong and I'm absolutely terrified of doing it again with dp. We have a lovely relationship but I've never felt as in love with him as he seems to be with me. I really beat myself up about it. We definitely have chemistry and I wonder if something in me is seeking the perfect thing which just doesn't exist.

On the other hand, there is nobody I'd rather be with iyswim - I sometimes wonder if we split if I'd ever meet anyone half as kind, lovely, good with the dcs etc. it's way too good to end but I'm not sure it's enough for life. Such a difficult one sad

Fuckitthatlldo Wed 21-Nov-12 21:16:42

My advice to you here would be don't do it. Don't do it to yourself and don't do it to him.

Don't settle for someone you don't feel any passion for. Why do you feel this is the best you can reasonably expect?

In another ten years you will find yourself living with your best mate/brother, and quite honestly that is the best case scenario. You will spend your life wondering what if...

And one day after wondering what if for years, someone may well come along who makes your head swim and your legs turn to jelly. What then op?

AboutToSelfDestruct Wed 21-Nov-12 21:43:01

I'm not going to say what you should do, but your post has really got to me. I could have written all of it 8 years ago when I married DH.
I am now in the position that so many have warned about. I have been living with my friend. We have everything on paper that would tick all the boxes except the x factor / magic whatever you want to call it. It was never there and we never had the honeymoon period.
I have now had my head turned by someone who makes me feel like I could never have imagined both physically and emotionally. I have stepped away before he became an OM and am trying to work on my marriage, but I'm really not sure if I can go back. Its horrendous. I love D deeply and we have two wonderfulC's but I'm just not happy and its not enough. Now I face knowing that this is it forever and 'settling' or smahing all their lives to peices to chase happiness.

LadyFoxCustard Thu 22-Nov-12 13:50:44

The problem for me is that I don't know whether I will ever have those feelings again for anyone. When I did have them about various people it was just difficult and painful - happiness didn't really come into it. So maybe I just don't know how to be happy, or at least not in that "in love" way. In which case DP is totally perfect for me.

It's a bit troubling to me that you may have the same view of the butterfly feeling, qumquat! This means we are both either right to proceed as we are or totally wrong!

LadyFoxCustard Thu 22-Nov-12 13:58:33

It would be interesting if someone could define what they mean by "attracted to"? I think DP is lovely, I smile when I spot himin a crowd, but we've never had that jump on each other's bones thing going on - though I think we'd both be willing to work very hard to develop it if it was possible!

Sorry for hijack qumquat. I'm finding this really helpful if also painful.

Helltotheno Thu 22-Nov-12 13:58:54

The problem for me is that I don't know whether I will ever have those feelings again for anyone.

You may not, that's the reality. I myself don't buy into the whole 'soulmates', 'love at first sight' thing and as time has passed, I realise that it's because I just don't need that. Different people in my life fulfil different requirements that I have and I'm not and don't want to be fully reliant on a partner to deliver all that.

I can't answer your settling question but it depends what you want out of life. I wanted children more than I wanted the man of my dreams so for me, the important thing is to have a really fulfilling family life. And my DH feels the same way. We each have full lives separate from each other too. That doesn't mean I settled, but it does mean I settled for the scenario that would give me what I wanted and wasn't prepared to wait until I saw stars with some dream man/lifelong lover/knight in shining armour type. Probably haven't explained it well grin

noddyholder Thu 22-Nov-12 14:12:26

For me the more full and interesting my life is the more it is vital that my relationship is fulfilling as tbh I don't 'need' it I just love my dp and we are great friends and I am attracted to him as much now as 20 years ago. I could have a v full life without but I wouldn't want that as I didn't believe in the 'big love' thing til I met him. The difference between him and my mates is huge if it wasn't I think I'd be single.

CailinDana Thu 22-Nov-12 15:04:15

Wow LadyFox, your post was really affecting. Beautifully put.

To answer the OP's question, IMO it is definitely not a good idea to settle. Marriage is hard. No matter how lovely and kind the person you marry is, at some point they will get your goat and you will want to strangle them. IMO it's that extra spark, that "Oh you're so lovely I'll have to bloody forgive you" that gets you beyond that and keeps you truly together (rather than just toughing it out IYSWIM).

I don't believe in soulmates at all. I believe I could feel about another person the way I feel about my DH. But my DH is definitely special. I am definitely, hopelessly, in love with him. It's not as mad and crazy as it was in the early days (sex three times a day, what grown adult has time or energy for that??) but after nearly 11 years I still melt when I look at him and he still gives me tingles when he touches me. It's that passion and spark that gets us beyond the petty fights and keeps us wanting to really be with each other I think. Interests, viewpoints, hobbies etc change. DH is definitely not the same as when I met him. But that connection we have is still there, that's what endures, and that's what keeps us going, keeps our relationship interesting, fun and exciting in spite of all the humdrum of life.

I have plenty of friends that I love and who would make great husbands. I could have married them. But I don't think it would have lasted. We would have drifted apart, become bored with each other, got on each others' nerves. Living with another person, sharing life and all its shitness, is a tough slog. The person you do it with has to be someone who really stands out IMO, the person who if you could only see one person before you die (besides your children of course) would be first on your list. The person who if they did drift out of your life you would never forget them.

Solid and dependable is good, but it's not enough IMO.

To answer your question LadyFox, by "attracted to" I mean that I find DH very sexy and pleasing to the eye. His laugh, the way he looks at me, how he does certain things, are just mmmmm. He's a pleasure to be around, not just because he's nice but because he lights my fire IYSWIM. That sexual element where you find someone...tasty...for want of a better word, is really important in a marriage I think. Feeling sexually satisfied is really important, and once you're married the only person who can provide that is your spouse. If your partner can't give that you the danger you'll resent them and possibly look for it elsewhere is high I think.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 22-Nov-12 15:20:13

I think there's far too much emphasis on 'in love'. Bloody exhausting for a start. smile Also leads to lousy decision-making. As my speak-as-you-find friend says... 'when you're thinking with your fanny, your brains fly out of the window'. After 10 years, if you're still getting on really well, have loads in common, enjoy being together, make each other laugh and..... very important.... look forward to seeing each other at the end of a crappy day, then I'd say grab with both hands and don't let go.

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