I recently got an email from someone asking me the difference between accepting or settling about an area in her relationship. I thought it was a great question as the two could be easily confused.
I have heard people say things like, “you just need to accept him as he is…you won’t find a perfect person. So its better than being alone”. Honestly, I don’t agree with that. Truth, you never will find a perfect person. But you can find the person who is perfect for you and you don’t have to settle to find them.
Let’s break down the difference between accepting vs. settling.
Accepting: Choosing to accept to love someone in-spite of their shortcomings. Their shortcomings do not effect the way you feel love from them. They do not challenge or change your core values.
Settling: Not feeling fully loved and accepted. Your needs are not being met. Your core values and standards have lowered or changed.
This is a big reason why I encourage dating. If I had decided to marry a previous ex boyfriend quickly after meeting them I honestly may have settled. Not because they were bad people at all. But because some of them did not have the same core values and beliefs that I did. Some of them couldn’t give/show me love in the way I needed it. Had I jumped too quickly into “this is the one” I may have not realized that until after I said “I do”. And that “I do” is an I do to accepting that person, just as they are, for life. I would’ve had to now accept the fact that I had settled. And that is an awful place to be at in a marriage. You never ever ever want to look at your spouse and think to yourself, “well I settled.”
A previous ex-boyfriend decided to share with me a belief that he had after we started dating. He knew that I was a virgin and that I was saving myself for marriage. He was not, and I knew that, but he agreed on saving himself now as well. However, as we began dating he began to express with me a different belief he had. He starting telling me how if him and I did end up having sex it would be okay because God forgives us. While in principle, I do agree with him, in theory I do not. I did not believe that just because God is a forgiving God we could sleep together and then afterwards pull out the forgiveness card. He kept pressing this topic with me. I could feel the tension of a decision I had to make. If I stayed with him I may end up in a situation I didn’t want to be in, or eventually my belief changing because of what he kept telling me. Ultimately it would be settling for me because my standard and core value would change.
Settling is also emotional. What are your emotional needs? It is very important to know what you need in order to feel loved. I highly recommend the book by Gary Chapman, The Five Love Languages. I think that love languages can shift some during life but for the most part they do stay the same. You will want to identify what your needs are and be comfortable communicating them to the person you are in a relationship with. With this said, let me clarify something, your spouse is not perfect. Seth does not get it right every moment of every day. My top love language is quality time. There have been times where I have had to communicate to Seth that I need him to give me his time and undivided attention because I have felt disconnected from him. However, I have never felt “un-loved” by this. Our relationship is more secure then days where my love language has not been met. We can not be divas about this stuff 😉 There is a difference between an off few days and a lifestyle.
I received an email from someone who was sharing how the person they were dating is very distant emotionally. That person does not express their emotions and also did not show affection. She felt this was something she really wanted and needed in a relationship. Basically her love language is words of affirmation. She feels loved when he is affectionate verbally with her. So what do you do in a situation like this? Do you stay in it thinking you are being too picky and just adjust to the way he/she shows love, or do you move on? As I have said before, I am not here to tell you what to do. I will only share with you what I have learned and realized along the way.
First, you always express what you need. If that person says they can not do that then you may have your answer. If they understand and begin to try then you give it some time. Consistency is key. But remember my motto “people do not change once you get married”. So do not expect that you will get married and all of a sudden everything will change.
It is good to know what you need, what your standards are, and what your values are. You have to stay true to you. Seth wants to show me love the way I feel it because he loves me. It is not a chore to do this.
In a dating relationship I think it is very important to take a deep look inside to see if this relationship is causing you to have to settle in any area. This is never easy to do, and always scary at the thought of ending something but what is even more scary is ending up in a marriage where you feel regret.
Here are some questions that you can ask yourself…you know..the hard questions..ugh I know..
- Is there any area that I have to change my belief system if I want to be on the same page as my future spouse?
- If nothing was to change in our relationship with the way he/she treats me would I be fulfilled and feel love?
- Are there areas of concern that I feel because he/she is not meeting an un-realistic standard that I have set, or because their standard is different then mine?
- Do we both see shortcomings as areas that we are both willing to grow in?
- When it comes to the big stuff…religion, lifestyle, finances, and family decisions are we on the same page or do we have different views?
I hope this can help you to better understand if you are settling or accepting. Hang in there…eventually you will be happily married and in love if you stay the course and don’t settle along the way! You got this! 😉
All Photos By: Sarah Schweyer Photography