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The Difference Between Being In Love And Settling

We like to think that we know what love is – but what’s the difference between loving someone enough to accept their flaws, and settling for things you shouldn’t put up with?
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Love is a complicated thing. Just when you start to think you’ve got it figured out, something will come along and throw a wrench in the gears. This can be a good thing sometimes, but it would be naïve to think that it’s never a negative experience.

We are often taught that “love is blind”. This simply isn’t true. Love is all-seeing and accepts the flaws anyway. Only infatuation is blind. But there comes a point where “accepting flaws” borders on “compromising your beliefs”, and when that happens, it’s important to evaluate whether you really love the person you’re with or if you’re just settling for what you think you deserve.

Now, I’m not saying that love doesn’t require compromise sometimes. Love is all about compromise – but you shouldn’t have to compromise the things that are most important to you. If you have to think about whether you’re willing to deal with something, you’ve pretty much already answered your own question.


Love means not having to say you’re sorry. Settling means you’re always sorry.

When you truly love someone, the compromises you make will come easily. You won’t have to think about it much because you value your partner’s happiness just as much as you value your own.

Settling, on the other hand, demands that you put your partner’s happiness above your own – and that’s not a fun position to be in.


Love involves give and take from both parties. Settling involves one partner giving and the other taking.

It’s rare that a relationship will be completely one-sided. Most likely, it’s going to be subtler than that – but the end result is still the same. One partner will feel empty, while the other partner will still want more.

This can put both partners in an incredibly tough position, as both will potentially feel that they are being victimized, but for different reasons. The partner who does more taking will feel entitled to more from their partner than the partner can give them, and the partner who does more giving will (understandably) feel that they do not have enough to give.


Love asks that you compromise your wants. Settling asks that you compromise your needs.

Many people have a hard time making the distinction between needs and wants, and this is where things can get a bit difficult. Sometimes it requires that the partners take a full “inventory” of the things they’re asking, and determine how important it is to them.

There is, of course, the argument that – if you’re willing to give it up – you don’t really “need” it. But some people will go through great lengths to make sure that their partner is happy, and this can have hazardous effects on their self-esteem, their self-worth, and even their self-respect.


Love goes both ways. Settling is one sided.

Listen, ladies – if you’re not both giving in, it’s not a compromise. It’s not a negotiation. It’s a hostage situation.

I’m sure that sounds harsh, but it’s true! If either person’s requests are considered more important than the other person’s, there is no love. Love has to go both ways, or one person will just be a slave to their own emotions.


Love is happy. Settling is depressing.

If your relationship is making you sad, angry, or confused more than it’s making you happy, it’s not the right relationship to be in. It can be hard to say goodbye, but for your own mental health, it’s important that you do.

This doesn’t always mean that it’s the other person’s fault, though. The truth is, it’s almost always up to both people collectively. Sure, one person may have more say than the other, but if they don’t have the initiative to walk away, they are allowing their partner to continue taking advantage of them.

There’s a saying that I’m sure you’ve heard – “you teach people how to treat you”. I’m not really sure who originally said it, but it holds a lot of weight. If you allow yourself to be treated like dirt, you will continually be treated like dirt.

This is especially tough because settling often teaches us that we aren’t really the only ones involved in our decisions. (Love does this too, but in a different way.) But if your partner loves you, she will want you to be happy as well – even if it’s not with her. Maybe the time apart will motivate her to be more considerate of your feelings, or maybe it won’t. That really depends on the person and the situation.

The moral of the story is, if your relationship isn’t making you happy – let it go. It’s not love, no matter how much you want it to be.

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Author

Barbara is a 26-year-old lesbian living in California with her partner (and their “fur babies” – an adorably chubby puppy named Porkchop and a ball python named Ru). In the spare time she pretends to have, she enjoys horror movies, music of all varieties, reading, and complaining about the weather.

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