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to think that a lot of relationships involve one or both involved "settling"?

(35 Posts)
Perennialnamechanger Sat 18-Jun-11 13:21:06

I have name changed because I want to be honest on here and some in RL know my posting name. This thread was inspired by the "alternatives to marriage" thread in Lone Parents.

I find on MN that sometimes the view of relationships can be a bit black and white. You SHOULD be happy and passionate and "in love" with your DP/DH/OH and if you are not then you should dump immediately. I do not speak about relationships involving abuse btw, one of the things I love about MN is the calling of abuse and the eye opening that so many need, it certainly sorted me out and helped me change my life.

What I mean is relationships where you don't have a great deal of feeling for the other person apart from not detesting them of course but they are a good father/mother, you and your dc would be much worse off if you separated and its nice to do things as a family and share the parenting load and so on. So you might as well stay in it as not. I just wonder how many relationships are like that? I suppose I am being nosy really grin.

I just think it is rather unrealistic to break up a family and go down the tough single parenting route unless actively unhappy. Any thoughts welcomed.

For the record I would describe my own relationship as above.

mree Sat 18-Jun-11 13:26:56

I very nearly 'settled' for someone I wouldn't have been happy with, purely because I was young and daft and didn't know how to say no to a marriage proposal! Thankfully circumstances conspired to give me some backbone and I left him, around the same time as I met my now DH. That was 11 years ago, yet for the first few years of my relationship with DH I was also 'settling', as I certainly wasn't happy at the thought of spending the rest of my life with him. We then both grew up a lot, and thankfully grew into 2 people who adored each other, had matching aspirations and values, and now 11 years on are married and expecting first DC. So sometimes it works the other way round, what would have been 'settling' becomes being in absolutely the right relationship with absolutely the right person. But I do wonder if I would have acheived all I have acheived and be as happy as I am if circumstances had left me with the waste of space I was engaged to when DH came along...

darleneoconnor Sat 18-Jun-11 13:37:04

DP doesn't 'tick' a lot of the boxes I had for a potential partner but he has some qualities which I didn't even know I wanted until I had him. Things aren't perfect but I dont know anyone who is in a relationship which is. I could leave him (have been told to on here) and take a gamble on a 'upgrade' but I really dont think there's much chance of that working out better for me and the dcs in the long run than the status quo.

Perennialnamechanger Sat 18-Jun-11 13:45:26

darleneoconnor "I could leave him (have been told to on here) and take a gamble on a 'upgrade' but I really dont think there's much chance of that working out better for me and the dcs in the long run than the status quo."

That is exactly what I mean, if not actively unhappy, then there doesn't seem much point in moving on does there? I am not unfulfilled but I suspect that might be because I don't really "need" to be in a relationship. However I was very much in love with my childrens Dad at one time. He did some quite rubbish things though, but I suppose the time for leaving passed and he is not like that now, although has his moments.

diddl Sat 18-Jun-11 14:03:26

I agree that even if things might be "better" but you´re not really unhappy then perhaps it´s best to stay.

But I think that "settling" once in a relationship is obv different to "settling" for someone for the sake of being in a relationship.

Perennialnamechanger Sat 18-Jun-11 14:09:52

Yes that is what I mean't really. Deciding to stay in a relationship that doesnt do much for YOU personally but doesnt make you unhappy either but it would cause devastation to dc etc. Rather than sticking around because you don't want to be single.

TheFlyingOnion Sat 18-Jun-11 15:10:08

can someone explain to me exactly what "settling" involves?

Is the difference between settling and a regular relationship that you are not in love with your partner if you have settled?

I'm interested because as a single lady in my 30s, I've heard others in my situation described as having "settled" in quite a scornful way - as if they'll get married and have kids with anyone who will ask because they're "running out of time"

TheFlyingOnion Sat 18-Jun-11 15:11:36

I'm not talking about staying in a marriage btw, more about embarking on one in the first place...

hardworkrightnow Sat 18-Jun-11 15:23:09

Thanks for sharing your story OP, I have just posted a thread on chat as I am having problems with my marriage at the moment. I asked if anyone had a turbulent first few years of marriage and then worked it out in the end. We'll be married 5 years in December, and at the moment I feel like we still don't understand each other and are always fighting and bickering. I know we don't want to divorce, we have a child and another on the way.

Did you have a turbulent first few years? Did you "grow" into each other gradually after the turbulence? I just want some idea of what it takes to get through to the other side. I feel so depressed some days that I am not in the perfect relationship like friends on FB make out to be.

TheFlyingOnion Sat 18-Jun-11 15:58:56

oh god hardwork never take anyone's fb witterings as proof they are happy! smile

They are just a marketing tool for the individual - everyone is secretly reading everyone else's pages and wishing their lives were better.

Ignore!!!

joric Sat 18-Jun-11 16:18:37

OP - love this thread for lots of reasons... DP and I have never been the love of each other's lives but all relationships are unique... Some would say we've just settled and that our relationship is doomed as everyone needs their relationship to be the 'one' / to be madly in love/ have loads of sex etc etc..
Apparently, what we have is not enough.
We're happy! It's good for us! smile

noddyholder Sat 18-Jun-11 16:21:45

I think life is too short though. Settling implies that single would be worse and single is fantastic!

create Sat 18-Jun-11 16:40:34

Actually I think a lot of people could be much happier if they "settled" in all aspects of their life.

Accept that OK is good enough and get on with being glad for what you have.

I think it's a Jewish saying thats goes along the lines of "Happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you have"

I think this can apply to family, friends, job, income, looks, car, housekeeping standards, all sorts of things, including relatonships.

Sharney Sat 18-Jun-11 16:53:55

Agree with create. It's never going to be perfect or ideal. I don't believe there is a "the one" your perfect soulmate who understands your every thought, adores you and satisfies all your carnal desires. No such person me thinks and thank god for it. You gotta work at it. All the time. That's were the satisfaction comes from. Nobody has a perfect relationship and if you love your partner, if they can put up with all your imperfections as you put up with theirs, if you can plan and strive together, if you can laugh together............ well then, despite what you see, hear and read. You've got it good. Really good.

noddyholder Sat 18-Jun-11 17:04:21

OK is good enough in material things but not in a relationship surely? Why would you be with someone if it wasn't great? Not being facetious genuinely would like to know.

hardworkrightnow Sat 18-Jun-11 17:13:02

This thread is proving very helpful. Thanks flyingonion I know I shouldn't take it as proof they are happy, I don't really go on FB anymore for that reason.

sharney that is a really nice comment you've made. I really do believe you have to work at a relationship and it is hard work. I know I shouldn't be expecting my husband to be something that he isn't and he shouldn't expect me to be something else too.

joric I really like what you have said too - I know love is important but in my situation I don't think we madly love each other to the point we can't live without each other. I think this is where I am stumbling. I expect a fairytale household with love and kisses and roses everyday - but maybe I should get over that because life isn't a fairytale.

Thanks for starting this thread OP. It's making my life seem a little more bearable right now.

create Sat 18-Jun-11 17:22:03

noddy, because great doesn't really exist. There may be periods of greatness, but there will always be OK bits too.

diddl Sat 18-Jun-11 17:23:55

"I expect a fairytale household with love and kisses and roses everyday"

But that´s more about romance, isn´t it?

I would say that my husband isn´t romantic-so some might say that in that respect I´ve "settled"-after all, someone just like my husband but romantic also might be out there-but how long do you wait?

So I wonder if some of us "settle" in that we have an ideal but don´t wait for it-grab something that´s pretty close instead.

And hardwork could you really live without each other?

I´m sure we could if we had to, but I know that if anything happened to my husband or he left I would honestly be heart broken/devastated.

Perennialnamechanger Sat 18-Jun-11 17:33:34

I think "great" is unrealistic in many relationships and having been a fair few of them, they tend to go the same way in the end anyway. I think you to be careful to always be aspiring to "great" at the detriment of your dc and a unit that works. Obviously if you are actively unhappy then you should get out.

"I expect a fairytale household with love and kisses and roses everyday - but maybe I should get over that because life isn't a fairytale." well no it isnt but there probably should be a little bit of that if you want it. You do sound sad though tbh.

I dont particularly want it unless it is freely given. It never was with my childrens Dad and I had to make a conscience decision to stop minding. Our parenting relationship works quite well and I am not unhappy with my life so dont think it is a good idea to change it for the unknown in the hope I will find "true love" iyswim.

hardworkrightnow Sat 18-Jun-11 17:36:27

Yes, my husband isn't romantic anymore; he used to be when we first got together but that's kind of fizzled away after DD and both of us working all the time. I do find other gestures he makes better than roses these days - for example if he bathes DD or cleans the kitchen or the living room, this will make me more happy than anything, and I do love him for those small things he does to make my life easier.

When I say live without each other I mean not being in each other's way all day and constantly phoning and texting throughout the day. I know I'd be devastated too if he left or if anything happened to him. I can't spend more than 3 days without him as I miss his hugs. I do still love him so much. I don't know why we fight all the time. I think I expect too much. I'm stupid. He's a brilliant person, everyone loves him, he's adored at work, his friends would die for him. I am such a cow. All his bad points aside, he is a lovely man.

noddyholder Sat 18-Jun-11 17:39:50

Dp and I have been together 20 years and it is great! I am 46 and previous relationships were ok.This one is different. There are times when we just mosey along and are busy etc but we make time every day to talk and just have some non hum drum time. It is definitely not to the detriment of ds I think your relationship is as important as your kids as when they go then what? I know several people who split as soon as dcs got to uni stage as there was nothing to sustain it when there was just the 2 of them. I think if it became dull and we were just co existing I would suggest parting

jeckadeck Sat 18-Jun-11 18:28:07

FlyingOnion this is an interesting question. I'm never sure I know what is meant by "settling" either. I have a friend (childless, early 40s) who thinks all her friends have "settled" because their partners don't tick every single box (good-looking, rich, highly-educated, entrepreneurial, "creative" etc) and justifies the fact that she is single thus. Thats kind of fair enough if that's what you want but there's a strand in modern feminism which basically argues that women who accept less than the above are being pussies or letting the sisterhood down. This is just not sustainable for most people, who want to be loved and to love and to have a family, not necessarily to have a cross between Einstein and Brad Pitt (and by the way, such a man is probably insufferably self-centred.)
On the other hand if by "settling" you mean putting up with a lazy, good for nothing, drunk sofa surfer who beats you up after one pint too many, then that isn't acceptable. But if that's what you think you are entitled to, perhaps that's better than being alone in your own head.
What I'm getting at, I guess, is that settling is in the eye of the settler. One woman's domestic bliss is another's tedium. Leaving aside some obvious no nos like DV/alcoholism/cheating/chronic unemployment, its hard to think of any one characteristic which unequivocally means you've "settled."

Perennialnamechanger Sat 18-Jun-11 18:37:39

My definition of "settling" for me, in my life as it is atm, is staying with a man I don't think I love anymore but I am not unhappy either, having a home and life and raising my children with someone who loves them as much as I do but has no particularly loving feelings for me or I for him.

I don't think that life is all about finding "The One". I don't think it is at all reasonable to end a functioning relationship where you are all in the main content, especially the dc, so that you can pursue an ideal of a romantic relationship. They are too hard to find.

EdieSedgwick Sat 18-Jun-11 18:48:30

I don't know really OP. I think yes, some people do settle. I can think of a few people who I know who care about their partner very much and don't want to hurt them but are not happy. That is what I would call "settling."

I ended up being in a relationship for too many years due to this. He is/was very lovely but for me it was wrong. I would rather be single forever then go through that again as I have never felt so lonely. Plus I ended up being horrible (although we are now friends) to a very lovely man aho really didn't deserve it.

I don't have children though so it is perhaps different.

Only you know OP if you can stay like this for the rest of your life. We only have one life but I wouldn't do anything too rash. smile

fluffles Sat 18-Jun-11 18:58:10

my simple rule with relationships has always been - does this man make me, on average, more or less happy than being without him? if the answer is 'less' then it's not worth it.

i've generally had good relationships using this approach and have had long periods of being single due to this approach.

i am now married and i know my DH makes me more happy than i'd be without him, on average, though that doesn't mean i'm mooning around in a cloud of permanent love and lust and perfectness.. i am just happier with him by my side that without and i hope that lasts.

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