Dating Higher Standards

15 Unsettling Signs You’re Settling in a Relationship

The question, “Am I settling in a relationship?” is certainly an unnerving one that can invoke a range of emotions, such as discomfort, guilt, fear, confusion, or plain old apathy. 

The question could be coming from a place of epiphany – suddenly realizing that you probably deserve much better but unsure of what that looks like. 

On the other hand, it could be coming from a place of insecurity, looking for a way to get out of the relationship now so that you don’t have to fear future heartbreak. 

You might also be interested in this question to evaluate past relationships, so you know the signs to look out for with future partners.

Since this is a loaded question, and you might not even be sure why you’re asking yourself it in the first place, I’ve written this article to help you get clarity on the situation and determine if you are – in fact – settling. 

I’ll discuss what settling may look and feel like and provide 15 signs you are settling for less than you desire and deserve.

What Is Settling in a Relationship?

If you are settling in a relationship, meaning you don’t feel fulfilled or truly content, connected, or aligned, it’s likely because you are getting less than what you truly want and deserve for one reason or another.

This often happens when you stay in a relationship out of convenience, because you’re afraid of being alone, or because you feel like it’s the best or only option.

Alternatively, it could also have less to do with your partner and more to do with whether or not you are advocating for your needs to your partner. If your partner doesn’t know your true standards, they don’t have a real shot at living up to them.

Whatever the reason, in a subpar relationship, there’s often a lack of connection, communication, and mutual respect required for high-standard relationships.

That’s why it’s crucial to understand whether you’re actually settling. You might genuinely care for this person but feel insecure about the relationship because your needs aren’t being met, or this person just might not be “the one.”

How to Know You Are Settling in a Relationship: 15 Signs

First off, any one sign on its own does not mean your relationship is doomed.

It simply means that it’s worth taking a deeper look into the relationship and taking action to address that sign. Even more so if you resonate with several of these signs.

So, without further ado, here are 15 signs you may be settling into your relationship, broken into two sections: 1) Signs You Don’t Like Them Enough and 2) Signs It’s Not a Good Match.

Settling In a Relationship: Signs You Don’t Like Them Enough

settling in a relationship feels like this
Photo by Polina Zimmerman

If you want a loving, passionate relationship, here are the signs you might be settling into a subpar relationship, due to having lackluster feelings about your partner.

1. You Only Like What They Can Give You / How They Make You Feel (Nothing Specifically About Them

Say someone asks you why you like your partner, and the only things you can think of are along these lines:

  • “They make me feel safe/comfortable.”
  • ” They call me every day.”
  • ” They appreciate me / like me / love me so much.”
  • ” They do nice things for me.”
  • ” They’re so generous with their time / money / resources.”
  • ” They connect me with great people.”
  • etc.

If these are the only reasons that come to mind when you think of why you like your partner, chances are you only like them for what they’re providing you instead of who they actually are as a person.

Now don’t get me wrong, these are not terrible reasons to like being with someone, as long as they are among other reasons that have to do with the person themselves, such as:

  • “They’re smart / funny / charismatic / motivated / confident / [insert character trait here].”
  • ” They are loyal and considerate to everyone.”
  • ” They love to travel/ is a great cook / does kung fu / [insert admirable hobbies here].”
  • ” We have similar belief systems and values.”
  • etc.

Can you see the difference?

2. You’re Afraid to Show Them off to Your Friends 

People have varying levels of comfort when talking to friends and family about their love lives, so if you’re not one to “show off” your partner in general, that’s fine.

However, if you’re afraid to mention them, hate when they come up in conversation, or don’t want to bring them around ever, then that’s definitely a sign that they might not be the one.

Of course, family meetings can be nerve-wracking and complicated.

But even still, if you’re genuinely feeling good about someone and love their personality, looks, and character, you’ll likely be excited for them to meet your friends.

3. You Feel Uncomfortable Getting Questions or Pushback from Friends and Family

Let’s say your partner has already met the people closest to you.

If it makes you uncomfortable to get questions or pushback from friends or family, this could be a sign that you’re not confident enough in them as a person to vouch for them.

Take it from me – my Nigerian parents had certain cultural expectations regarding who I dated, so they weren’t stoked when I fell in love with someone that didn’t meet those expectations (like, at all).

For reference… here we are!

However, I was so confident about him that whenever my parents asked questions about him or the relationship, instead of getting uncomfortable, I took full advantage of those moments to explain why I loved him and why I planned on being with him, even if they had different expectations for me.

Of course, uncomfortable questions from family and friends may be just that – uncomfortable – regardless of how you feel about your partner.

But in general, it’s a sign of settling if this discomfort comes from the fact that you simply don’t have anything great to say about them or don’t believe you should be with them deep down.

4. You’re Making Excuses for Their Behavior

If you find yourself consistently making excuses for your partner to others, like “oh, it’s not normally like this” or “he’s just having a bad day,” then it may be time to reflect on why you feel the need to make excuses for your partner in the first place.

Sometimes we make excuses because we know that our partners aren’t showing their best selves or are going through something difficult, so we genuinely mean it when we say, “they’re not normally like this.”

But if you’re constantly making these sorts of remarks, that might be a sign that you’re embarrassed by their behavior more often than not and that they are normally “like this.”

And if you say this to other people in a public setting, you might also want to consider how they act in a private setting.

Because if they have similar behaviors that you don’t appreciate in private, it could be a sign that you’re simply settling by being with an incompatible match or not speaking up about those behaviors.

5. You Justify Their Actions to Yourself 

This sign is similar to the one above but more focused on the excuses you make about your partner in your own head.

Settling in a relationship doesn’t necessarily mean you’re with an A-hole who has the most toxic behavior known to man.

So, if your partner isn’t toxic but just incompatible or not up to your standards, it might be difficult to see how and when you’re justifying their actions.

That said, here are some specific examples of what justifying incompatible behavior might sound like:

  • “Well, every guy likes to play video games for hours on end. It’s not a big deal.”
  • ” He’s not terrible at communicating. He just has a hard time expressing himself sometimes.”
  • ” At least he’s not as boring as my ex was.”
  • ” It’s not like I want him to be the perfect guy, right? That’s impossible.”
  • ” To be fair, I like to go out, too. So I guess it shouldn’t be a problem if he goes out every night.”
  • ” He’s a guy. He’s supposed to make crude jokes. I’m just being sensitive.”
  • etc.

These types of statements are ways of trying to talk yourself into believing that the things you clearly don’t like are things you don’t mind, or in other words, normalizing behavior you find distasteful.

It doesn’t mean you have to like every single thing about your partner.

But when you’re not settling in a relationship, it’s actually easier to be honest with yourself about what you don’t like because you know there’s so much more to love.

Is this feeling familiar? Apply for a free coaching session to get tailored advice.

6. You’ve Never Felt Physical Drawn to Them 

Physical attraction is not the only thing that matters in a relationship, but it’s an important factor.

Regardless of your preference levels for sex and physical intimacy, if you find that you’ve never been physically drawn to your partner, you might be settling for less than you desire.

The only potential exception is if you are an asexual person, who does not feel sexual attraction to anyone.

Either way, if physical attraction is something that’s usually important to you, and you don’t find your partner attractive at all, that’s something to consider.

You Have To Convince Yourself To Be Attracted to Them

Now, this doesn’t mean that you have to believe your partner is the hottest person in the world or even that they fit the mold of “conventional attractiveness,” whatever that means to you.

It simply means that you are drawn to certain aspects of their physical features – their smile, eyes, hair, arms, chest, etc. – especially as you continue to develop an interest in this person over time.

If nothing about their physical features interests you in the slightest, or you find yourself having to “talk yourself into” being attracted to them or intimate with them, this is a significant sign that you’re settling.

7. You Get Excited When They’re About to Leave for Long Periods of Time 

This one’s rough, but trust me, I’ve seen people who get genuinely giddy when their partner walks out the door. They feel lighter, freer, and more like themselves – that’s not a good sign.

Here’s the thing: if you’re constantly with your partner, getting alone time away from them is so healthy.

It’s important to be able to maintain a sense of identify outside of the relationship, of course. And you might even be excited for them on whatever trip or adventure they’re about to embark on.

However, if you find yourself feeling relieved or looking forward to the days, weeks, or even months that they’ll be away, it could be a sign that you’re not with someone who you genuinely love being around.

Additionally, if you’re with the right person for you, you won’t feel like you need to be “on” when you’re around them, especially if it’s been a few months or years into the relationship.

This doesn’t mean that if you’re not devastated when they leave then you’re settling. But typically, when you really like someone, you’ll probably miss them when they’re not around for a long time – plain and simple.

Settling In a Relationship: When It’s Not a Good Match

settling in a relationship - incompatible couple
Photo by Alex Green

You might like them but feel like there’s something missing. You might love them but have a sense that it isn’t enough to sustain the relationship long-term.

Here are some signs you’re settling because it’s simply not a good match.

8. You Never Get into Disagreements or Conflict

Some people might disagree with me on this, but hear me out.

I’ve heard several couples say, “we’ve never gotten into an argument!” as if that’s some sort of badge of honor…

…All of them have broken up.

Coincidence? I think not.

There’s a difference between fighting and yelling and screaming versus having healthy disagreements and a reasonable level of relationship conflict.

Sometimes a little conflict or friction might arise from the fact that one or both partners are comfortable speaking up when their needs aren’t being met or when boundaries are crossed.

If you find that no form of disagreement ever comes up in your relationship, this could be a sign that one (or both) of you is scared to ruffle feathers or rock the boat, which is an indication that you don’t feel confident enough about the strength of your relationship and your ability to overcome conflict.

Instead, you are coasting, holding things in, not challenging each other, and not growing the relationship to its fullest potential – thus settling.

9. You Always Put Their Needs Before Yours

Do you find yourself constantly putting your partner’s needs, wants, and desires ahead of yours? If the relationship doesn’t feel reciprocal, or you’re trying too hard to “make it work,” this could signify that you’re settling for less than you deserve.

It’s absolutely okay to put your partner first sometimes, but it should be balanced. If you’re always the one making sacrifices without any reciprocation, your relationship isn’t working as it should.

It might be because your partner isn’t stepping up, causing the relationship to feel unbalanced or one-sided. Alternatively, it might have less to do with your partner and more to do with your people-pleasing habits.

Either way, it’s important to make sure your voice is heard and that your needs are also being discussed and taken into consideration so that you don’t become complacent with a subpar relationship.

10. You Feel Like You’re Just Existing in the Relationship Rather Than Feeling Alive

Do you currently feel a little… dead inside? Is it as if your relationship is just going through the motions and not bringing out the best in either of you?

If so, this is a clear sign that you’re settling into a mediocre relationship.

A good relationship should be lively and vibrant – not necessarily all the time, as that’s unrealistic, but more so than not.

More importantly, it should bring out the best in you both and make you feel alive! If this isn’t the case, it’s important to take a step back and evaluate if this is really the relationship for you.

It could be that things just need to be spiced up a bit, or the two of you may just not be as compatible as you hoped.

11. You Feel Resentment Toward Your Partner

Resentment is an emotion that can come about for many different reasons and can be felt in even the most loving and considerate relationships.

But no matter what, feeling resentment means that you feel like you’ve given something up to be with your partner instead of having made a conscious compromise or sacrifice that you’re okay with because it means you get the privilege of being with them.

For example, if you moved across the country for your partner and missed out on a big job opportunity because of that, you might start to feel resentful over time.

But resentment only arises, grows, and lasts if the benefits of the relationship don’t outweigh the opportunity you gave up.

If it does, you likely won’t feel resentment. And if it doesn’t, then you might be settling.

12. You’re Always Comparing This Relationship to Your Others

Comparing your current relationship to your past ones is natural, but it can also be a sign that you’re not completely satisfied with where you are.

If you’re constantly comparing your current partner to an ex or feeling nostalgic for the old days could be a sign that things aren’t completely where you want them to be in your current relationship.

Rather than longing for what was, focus on finding the positives and developing a better and brighter future with your current partner.

And if that task feels impossible to you, then you’re likely simply settling and need to move on.

13. You Envy Other Couples

settling in a relationship - jealous of other couples
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

In addition to comparing your relationship to past ones, you might also compare your relationship to other couples around you – and not in a fun, lighthearted way, but in an envious way.

If you’re constantly feeling jealous of other couples or wishing that you had what they have, this could be a sign that you’re not completely happy with your current relationship or not getting what you truly want out of the relationship.

The grass may be greener on the other side, but if you frequently want to stroll over there, it could be a sign that you’re settling and need to make some changes.

14. You Never Feel Secure or Supported in the Relationship

I know I mentioned earlier that if you only are in the relationship because your partner gives you a sense of security and reassurance, then you might not actually care much about who they are as a person.

However, it’s important that you do feel this from your partner!

Feeling secure and supported is a huge part of any relationship, and it’s something that you should never take for granted.

If you constantly feel like your partner doesn’t have your back or like they don’t love and support you how you need them to, you’re likely not getting your needs met.

Further, if you feel like the relationship is always on rocky ground, it might be time to figure out what’s really going on and decide if this is a situation you can still salvage or if it’s time to move on.

15. You’re Not Investing in the Future of the Relationship

Finally, if you find that neither you nor your partner is interested in investing or even discussing the future of the relationship, this could be a sign that you’re settling.

By “investing in the future,” I mean making plans for things that involve further commitment in a way that suits the two of you, whether that entails moving in, marriage, travel, kids, meeting families, etc.

These discussions take time, thought, and energy, but when it’s a good match, this time, thought, and energy is exciting – not overly draining.

If you both remain disinterested when these topics arise, especially if you’ve been in the relationship for a long time, it may be a sign that you couldn’t care less about where the relationship goes – which might mean you’re settling in the first place.


Settling into a relationship is never a good thing, and it’s best to address these feelings head on.

And the end of the day, there’s nothing wrong with realizing that you and your partner aren’t right for each other and taking steps to move on. It’s always better to figure it out sooner rather than later.

If any of these signs feel familiar to you, it’ll be helpful to take a moment to evaluate where your relationship is going and if it’s the right path for you.

Did this resonate with you? Follow me on Instagram for more tips or apply for a free coaching session to talk through your unique situation.

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