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Choosing the Wrong Partner: 7 Reasons We Settle for Less Than We Deserve

we settle for less than deserve

“This is what I know. Don’t settle for 40, 50, or even 80 percent. A relationship-it shouldn’t be too small or too tight or even a little scratchy. It shouldn’t take up space in your closet out of guilty conscience or convenience or a moment of desire. Do you hear me? It should be perfect for you. It should be lasting. Wait. wait for 100 percent.” ― Deb Caletti, The Secret Life of Prince Charming

Here are some of the reasons why people settle for relationships that just don’t give them what they need.

We’ve all been in the kind of relationship where friends and family members keep asking us why we stay with “that guy” or “that woman.” That partner we keep making excuses for: “She’s just friends with all her ex-boyfriends.” “He only drinks like that because his friends make him.” “When she’s jealous, it’s because she loves me so much.” “He’s not controlling, he’s concerned about me.”

Choosing to stay only because you feel like you need someone.

When you have to make those kinds of excuses for your partner, you’re not getting what you need. But it’s embarrassing to admit that really, you stay because you feel like you need someone–anyone–in your life, even if they’re far less than who you deserve.

So you end up on relationship autopilot, making excuses for unacceptable behaviors, ignoring the warning signs that you are in an unhealthy relationship. When your partner disappoints you yet again, you get angry, then you make another excuse, then you stay.

Related: 9 Ways People Settle in Relationships

Here are some of the reasons why people settle for relationships that just don’t give them what they need.

7 Reasons We Settle for Less Than We Deserve

1. Denial

When we deny what we really need, who our partner really is, whether or not we are actually happy, we are lying to ourselves. Women, especially, are really good at this. We see only what we want to see, and explain away the rest.

The lies we tell ourselves and others begin to sound believable, as we desperately try to convince everyone that we are happily in love. It becomes easier to deceive ourselves than to face the truth.

Don't settle for less
Don’t settle for less

2. Illusions

We believe we can somehow change our partner, and make them the person we want and need them to be.

We assume that no matter what their history, somehow they will behave differently from us. We cling to romantic notions of what love “should” feel and look like, and ignore our intuition when our reality doesn’t align with our fantasy.

3. Shame

At the core of shame are deep feelings of inadequacy. We feel unworthy, unlovable, and disconnected from others. When we grow up being invalidated and misunderstood, we’re already on the path to feeling we don’t deserve much of anything.

Related: 12 Things A Self-Respecting Woman Should Never Settle For In A Relationship

4. Low Self-Esteem

Low self-esteem is often a result of shame..

If we grow up in a family where our needs were not met, validated, or even acknowledged, often we end up feeling that what we need isn’t important, or that we’re not worthy to get what we need. We end up sabotaging our relationships with controlling, rescuing, and/or people-pleasing behaviors.

5. Dependence

This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t depend on anyone; in fact, what we deserve is a healthy connection with a dependable partner.

But extreme dependence– “I can’t exist without a partner” – is unhealthy. In essence, we cannot recognize our own wholeness and completeness. We get into relationships feeling like half a person.

6. Emptiness

When we grow up in a family where our need for nurturing, attachment, and empathy is not met, emptiness is the result. The children of families like this feel abandoned, and that feeling can persist into adulthood.

The emptiness can manifest itself as depression, anxiety, chronic loneliness, and isolation.

never settle
Never settle for less

7. Fear Of Abandonment And Rejection

Missing out on early bonding with a primary caregiver can cause extreme fear of abandonment.

Children who are afraid they will be rejected end up taking on responsibilities way beyond what they are developmentally capable of. When these children become adults, the threat of rejection is still their biggest fear, so they are willing to do anything to keep their partner.

Related: A Guide To Understanding The Fear Of Abandonment And Object Constancy

When we don’t recognize and deal with these issues, we end up settling for less every time. So take a moment, slow it down, and check-in as to what motivates you to push at making a relationship work even when you know deep down that you deserve better. The truth is that you deserve to find a relationship where you don’t have to settle.

Sherry Gaba, LCSW is also the author of Love Smacked: How to Stop the Cycle of Relationship Addiction and Codependency to find Everlasting Love and Wake Up Recovery for Codependents.


Written By Sherry Gaba  
Originally Appeared In Sherry Gaba
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Sherry Gaba, LCSW

Sherry Gaba is a Psychotherapist, Life Coach, and Certified Recovery Coach specializing in individual, couples, family, and group psychotherapy and maintains a private practice in Westlake Village, CA, as well as providing phone and skype appointments. With over twenty years of experience as a clinician, and a graduate of USC specializing in addictions, relationships, co-dependency, trauma, parenting, divorce, and single parenting, she is currently serving as a private practitioner working with a broad spectrum of clients. Sherry is the author of the ground-breaking and award-winning book, The Law of Sobriety: Attracting Positive Energy for a Powerful Recovery.View Author posts

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