I see it all the time. Women settling for less than they deserve. The truth is that many women settle for complacent relationships. Some even tolerate relationships that are downright toxic. Regardless of whether you’re on one side or the other, or somewhere in between, there are a few reasons that we tend to settle for less than we deserve and some things that we can do to stop that pattern.
Our brains are constantly trying to protect us. As humans, we’re wired for survival. So, when we decide to settle in our relationship, it’s our brain’s way of telling us to stay safe. When you’re dealing with a situation where you and your partner have become complacent and the connection feels diminished, your brain might be sending you messages like, “At least this situation is familiar”, “Things could be much worse” or “This is good enough.” In this scenario:
complacency = comfort
comfort = safety
safety = survival
Even in the extreme situation of abusive relationships where people know they’re not safe, their brain is telling them, “At least I know what to expect” or “Things are bad but I can’t survive without him” or again “Things could be worse.” See, even in abusive scenarios, our brains are sending the message that the devil we know is better than the devil we don’t know because to our primitive brain, the unknown is unsafe. To an extent, we trust in our abilities to navigate the relationship that we’re already in but not our abilities to navigate the unknown.
So, why would you want to do anything to disrupt the possible safety that you feel in your relationship? It’s simple. Although our primal brain tells us the unknown is unsafe, it also tells us that the bigger our tribe, the more likely we are to survive. That’s right. We’re pack animals and connection is one of our basic needs. Let’s evolve a bit from the primal brain. Even today, the more intimate relationships we have, the more that our needs are met for love, acceptance, nurturing and emotional belonging.
We can begin to change our primitive protection patterns, but it requires some work. First, it requires us making the decision that we actually want more than what we’re currently getting from our relationship. If you haven’t given yourself permission to want more, then there’s really no way to move forward. After all, how do you make a move on something you don’t want?
Second, it requires us our acknowledgment that we deserve more. These two steps, although similar, have a subtle difference. Just because I want a million dollar mansion, doesn’t mean that I deserve one. I mean, if I haven’t worked hard to make money to afford a million dollar mansion, do I really deserve it? The difference with deserving more in our relationship is that we all deserve connection and intimacy just because we are uniquely ourselves and everyone deserves love. So, before moving forward, take a moment to acknowledge that you deserve intimacy and connection rather than complacency and discontent. Maybe even come up with a phrase that you can repeat to yourself that anchors this new deserving mindset.
Next, determine what’s holding you back. Is it fear or your primitive protection patterns? Is that protection really necessary? Is that fear serving you well? Take that fear all the way to the worst case scenario. Would you survive? If the answer is yes, release the fear. If the answer is possibly no, think about what help or assistance you could utilize to get safe. In most scenarios, the answer is, “By deciding that I want more intimacy with my partner, I’ll survive.”
Once you come to the realization that you don’t have to settle anymore, you’re done staying stuck and you’re ready to start creating the connection you deserve, now you’re well on your way to begin transforming in your relationship.