13 Signs of Settling in a Relationship and How to Avoid It

Do you feel like something is missing from your relationship? Do you find yourself disappointed with your partner?

Maybe you ignore these things for a while. However, the idea that you may be settling may keep resurfacing in your thoughts.

So, how can you tell if you’re settling? I’ve put together thirteen signs of settling in a relationship that you may be able to relate to.

Let’s look at what it means to settle and some signs that you may be settling. Finally, we’ll talk about what you can do to avoid settling in the future.

What Does It Mean to Settle In a Relationship?

To settle in a relationship means that you accept less from your partner than you need, want, or deserve.

You may have heard people advise “don’t settle for less”. What they mean by this is that you shouldn’t be with someone who doesn’t fulfill your needs and desires. By settling, you agree to be with someone that doesn’t meet all of your needs or standards.

You may settle in hopes that you can change them or that you will love them anyway. While it’s true that people do grow and you should be accommodating of the person you love, settling isn’t usually a good idea.

Settling vs Settling Down

You might be confused about the difference between settling and settling down. Although they sound similar, these two things are very different!

We talked about what settling is – accepting less of a partner or relationship than you need, want, or deserve. So what is settling down?

Settling down means that you are in a committed relationship with someone. You’re no longer out looking for love because you’ve found it. You’re ready to settle in and build a life with this person.

Settling down usually correlates with moving in together or getting married. So, don’t confuse these two terms because they are vastly different.

Signs You’re Settling

If you’re not sure if you are settling in your relationship, use these signs to help you decide. While these things don’t always mean that you’ve settled for someone, they are good indicators.

signs you're settling

1. They Don’t Check All Your Boxes

When we are dating, we have a mental or physical relationship checklist. This list is composed of all the qualities and attributes that we want in a partner.

For example, you may want someone funny, smart, who wants kids, and has a good job. If your partner doesn’t check all the boxes on your list, it may be a sign that you’re settling.

You may have met a great person who has all of those qualities but doesn’t want kids in the future. You may choose to settle for less than you want because they are perfect for you otherwise.

2. You’re Unhappy

There could be several reasons you’re unhappy in your relationship. However, if you find yourself chronically unhappy due to something your partner does or doesn’t do, it could be a sign of settling.

3. You Ignore Deal-Breakers

Just like you probably had at least a mental list of things you wanted in a relationship, you likely had a list of deal-breakers. Or you at least knew that there were some red flags you should look for.

While some of these red flags and deal-breakers are easy to ignore for a while, they usually resurface later on. Just because you really love someone doesn’t mean that these things won’t matter to you in the long run.

You might find that the issues become important again after you’ve been together for a while.

4. You’re Comfortable

Another sign that you might be settling for less is that you are “just comfortable” in the relationship. You’re not excited, energetic, happy, or fulfilled. But, you’re comfortable so you settle for less than what makes you happy.

5. You Constantly Doubt the Relationship

If you constantly find yourself doubting your relationship, it may be because you’ve settled. Deep down, you know the person you’re with isn’t right for you.

So, you keep having doubts about your situation. You should listen to your doubts and either communicate them or see if there is a deeper issue there.

6. Things Are Good, Not Great

Are you excited about the way things are going in your relationship? If you’ve settled for less, the answer is probably “no”.

Things might be going okay with no real issues to speak of. However, things aren’t going great. People often find themselves wanting to leave a good relationship because it’s just good and not great.

7. The Thought of Leaving Excites You

Do you daydream about leaving your partner? Do you think of the things you could accomplish on your own? If so, they probably aren’t the right person for you.

If you’ve settled, there are probably things about them that you ignore, but deep down they bother you. The thought of leaving them can feel comforting and exciting.

8. You Aren’t Physically Compatible

If you aren’t physically satisfied in your relationship, you probably settled for someone who is not compatible with you. Either one of you could be craving more physical intimacy than you’re having. When you settle for someone who doesn’t match your physical needs, it can affect other areas of your life and relationship.

9. You Expect Them to Change

Do you have a list of things you want your partner to work on changing? If so, you might have settled for them in hopes that they would change the things you don’t like about them.

Are you pushing them to get a better job? Or have a healthier lifestyle? Unfortunately, people don’t usually change easily. So, if you’re expecting someone to change for you to meet your standards, it probably isn’t going to happen.

10. You’re Embarrassed By Them

It has been said that your partner is a reflection of yourself. Well, if you’ve settled for less than you want, you might not like the thought of that. It may even embarrass you to introduce your partner to your friends or family.

11. You Don’t Feel Lucky to Have Them

If you never look at your partner and think “Wow! I’m so lucky to be with this person!” that is a sign of settling. When you look at your partner, there should be things that you recognize and appreciate.

If you don’t feel lucky to have them in your life, chances are something big is missing for you.

12. You Daydream About Different Relationships

Even if you aren’t thinking of anyone else, in particular, you might find yourself daydreaming about a better relationship. Maybe one where all of your needs are fulfilled and you are happy and excited.

If your current relationship isn’t meeting your needs, you may start fantasizing about one that does. This is a sign that you’ve settled and are unhappy.

13. You Feel Like They’re Holding You Back

The last sign of settling I have for you is if you feel like your partner is holding you back. This could be holding you back from progressing in your life, in your career, or if they are a roadblock to fun things you want to do.

Do you ever sit and think about how much better you’d be if you weren’t with your partner? Or maybe how much better off you’d be with someone who supported you more? If so, you may have settled for less than you want.

How to Avoid Settling

Now that we know what to look for when you’ve settled in a relationship, let’s look at how to avoid doing that in the first place. If you can avoid settling, then you won’t have to go through another failed relationship that leaves you unsatisfied.

There are a few things you can do to make sure that you’re on the right track when looking for the right person to be with.

how to avoid settling in a relationship

Know Your Goals

If you have clear goals for your future, then you’ll be able to identify more things that you need out of a partner. Using these goals, you can name the boxes that your ideal partner needs to check.

Know Your Standards

If you don’t identify your standards, you’ll shape them to fit the wrong person. Without knowing your standards, you can make things work with just about anyone, even if they aren’t right for you.

So, before you start developing feelings for the next person that comes along, make sure you know what you want and what you’re willing to accept.

Have Realistic Expectations

We know that no one is perfect. If you create unrealistic standards and expectations, you likely won’t find anyone that fits your vision. However, if you focus on a few things that are important to you, then you should be able to filter out the wrong people and find the person who is right for you.

Don’t settle, but don’t expect perfection either.

Settling In a Relationship FAQ

What does it mean to settle for someone?

When you settle for someone, it means that you’re willing to accept less than what you want in a relationship. You may do this because you don’t believe you can find anything better or because you’re afraid of being alone.

Is it bad to settle?

Yes, settling is generally considered bad. When you settle, it means that you’re not getting what you want or need out of a relationship. This can lead to feeling unfulfilled, unsatisfied, and unhappy.

Is it okay to settle in a relationship?

It’s up to you to determine if you’re willing to settle. It depends on what you’re compromising and how much you love the person you’re settling for. If you are going to be resentful or unhappy, settling usually isn’t a good idea.

How do you know if you have settled in a relationship?

There are a few signs that you’re settling in a relationship. These include things like feeling like you’re with the wrong person, being unhappy, feeling like your partner is holding you back, and not being proud of who you’re with.


Settling in a relationship means that you’re accepting less than you want. It can lead to feelings of unfulfillment, dissatisfaction, and unhappiness.

If you’re not getting what you need out of a relationship, it won’t feel right and you may find yourself dreaming of another reality. It’s best to avoid settling in the first place. However, you can try to work with your partner to get through the things you aren’t happy with. This doesn’t always work out though.

There are things you can do to make sure that you don’t settle for less than you want, such as knowing your goals and standards, having realistic expectations, and avoiding creating unrealistic standards. If you feel like you’re not happy because you’ve settled in your relationship and need to end things, you can read this article on 5 Ways to End Your Relationship so that you can move on to something better.

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