relationships · settling down

Settling Down

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There’s something about the term ‘settling down’ that makes me panic. What kind of a term is that? “Settle down.” It’s the kind of thing you say to people when they’re acting hysterically and won’t listen to reason. It’s what you say to a spooked horse, or a hyperactive child. Even on their own, neither of the words are particularly positive; ‘settling’ gives the impression that you begrudgingly wound up in a situation you’re not entirely happy with, and ‘down’ has a negative sort of connotation all of its own. Why can’t you ‘settle up’? It can be a bit frightening to think about spending a lifetime with one person. I definitely think that’s true.

That horrible phrase doesn’t help though.

Neither do the jokes guys make about ‘the ball and chain’ or being forced into marriage reluctantly. Who wants to be a ball and chain? What a miserable description. When I hear grown men joke about it I honestly come out in hives. Over the weekend I listened to this one guy “joke” about how he didn’t even want to get married every time his fiancee’s back was turned. She would come over to join the conversation every so often and tell some charming, amusing anecdote about some element of their relationship, and as soon as she wandered away he would be miming slitting his own throat and making faces to make his friends laugh.

I mean… What the hell?

It baffles me that this is somehow considered hilarious banter. I can promise you now that if that guy ever had that situation reversed on him, he would absolutely hit the roof. Never have I heard those kinds of words come from the mouth of a guy who would take the converse in stride. In fact, if any one of these guys overheard their girlfriend or fiancee make fun of him to her friends while his back was turned, they would have a meltdown so massive their ego might never recover.

Some people can be such prats, honestly.

Anyway, back to settling down.

I can get pretty spooked about it. Every so often I’ll think about it and feel a wave of uncertainty. At first, when I examine my fears, they have a very particular form to them. I can practically turn them over in my mind. What if I get sick of them? What if they start to irritate me all the time? What if I fall out of love?

Once I scoop my way past that shallow layer though, I realise that the real fear comes from the underbelly of my superficial thoughts. What if they get sick of me? What if I start to irritate them all the time? What if they fall out of love?

It all sounds so easy – you ‘settle down’, you make a home, you go out, you have friends over, you live happily ever after… But what about all the what ifs? What if you start to feel trapped? What if you feel lonely, or unheard, or unconsidered? What if you forget all the things about the person that you fell in love with? What if you don’t take the time to remember how you felt the first time you met them? What if you start to resent them? What if small issues snowball into unbreakable barriers between you?

There are six things that I’ve learned from experience are vital for a healthy relationship:

  • Trust
  • Honesty
  • Gratitude
  • Respect
  • Love
  • Communication

Without any one of these, the whole house of cards can come fluttering down in a depressing cascade of emotions. I’ve been in a rotten relationship before, and I think it really opened my eyes to how rare it is to be in a good relationship. It’s so, so much better to be single than to hang onto something that’s missing any of the above.

Maybe I’ll never ‘settle down.’ Maybe I’ll just refuse to ever use those words unless I’m one day in a situation where I’m patting a nervous horse on the nose. Maybe I’ll settle UP, and the ‘settling’ won’t be the begrudging sort, but instead the comfortable type; like the way you settle into your favourite armchair with a good book.

And when I think about it that way, it really doesn’t sound scary at all.

 

*Header image is obviously an image of my dream reading armchair. I will share with the pupper. We will squidge. It will be perfect.

0 thoughts on “Settling Down

  1. It’s awful. You can’t even help out at a friend’s wedding, without them asking you every two minutes why don’t ‘you’ go through the same ordeal. Yeah, all this hysteria is making the idea of marriage sound more tempting by the minute. I’d rather hide under a table!

    I think, because the idea of change, compromise, of a “new life” is so ingrained into the idea of settling down, people forget that they will spend the rest of their lives fighting for their own individuality. Like, I have people making snide remarks about what I wear, or any activity that I like to do, telling me “you won’t do that once you have a family”. But, having been a kid myself, I think it would have been better if my parents didn’t make unnecessary sacrifices of their interests and personality, just to do what is thought to be appropriate. I’ve tried my best to get to know them as people, to help re-kindle interests and passions they gave up, because to me, loving is appreciating the other person’s individuality. And I’m not going to settle ‘up’ for anything less than that with my future potential husband!

    1. I do think it’s important for people not to disappear into their ‘roles’ as husband/wife or as parents, but I realise that’s probably easier said than done with a screaming one year old to tend to! I think everyone needs some time to themselves – whether it’s individually or together – to indulge their passions and hobbies and interests.

      1. Definitely easier said than done, but absolutely important to preserve, and fight for if necessary. Of course, life has changed (whether it’s marriage or having children), but that just makes it that much more difficult to hold on to something that seems extraneous for now.

    1. No, I think you both settle up. Like ‘match up’.

      ….Or maybe I’m just horribly mangling the English language at this point.

      1. Possibly some slight ‘mangling’, insofar as two people ‘settling up’ might be construed as ‘finalising a financial transaction before parting ways’. But I like the sentiment of your ‘settling up’ and if we didn’t occasionally barbarise the language for more satisfying expressions then we wouldn’t be the creative and talented people that we both so clearly are. So mangle away I say…

  2. haha you know I can honestly say I have never thought about the phrase “settle down” as you have just discussed. I found it hilarious when you compared it to the literal meaning of the words “settle down” you’re right it is something that people would say when someone is being hysterical about something.
    Also I dislike guys like that, he really does sound like a prat. If he doesnt want to “settle down” then no one is forcing him, he can easily walk away. ugh some guys are such losers, really turns me off of “settling down”.
    Great insight into the whole concept though, as with all of your posts I have read so far, I loved it. 🙂

  3. Nice post. Sometimes, those “what-if’s” will drive us crazy. I think I say “settle down” to my puppy a dozen times a day. Next time I say it, I’ll be thinking of your post. The photo is awesome!

    1. Ha! I now have a mental image of you bopping a puppy on the nose and saying ‘Settle down now’ while it tugs on your shoelaces.

      ….Puppies are the best!

  4. I think about relationships a lot these days, given my situation. For some people, I wonder if settling down is a requirement, not everyone wants to have a relationship that lasts forever. I think often we take it on that we HAVE to settle down into a relationship forever at some point (I mean, no one wants to grow old all alone, or raise children by themselves). The more I think about it, people trap themselves in relationships like marriage because they think they have to, or they trade commitment as one exchanges currency, gaining love, or sex, or a servant, or material assets. Sounds like that is what is happening to that guy there, or rather what he is doing to himself. He may just be lazy and figures it is easier to get what he needs from this one girl rather than always having to find a new partner, or thinks his ability to attract potential mates is starting to fade and so is settling up as best he thinks he can. To that end, I think honesty and consent are two hugely important factors when entering a relationship. That guy isn’t being honest about entering into his marriage with his fiance, and things could get ugly down the line since he isn’t entering it for the right reasons, whatever they are. She thinks she’s consenting to marrying this guy based on these falsehoods he’s portrayed, and that is disgusting. We just kind of accept this as normal, that’s why we have the whole ‘ball-n-chain’ and such nonsense. I think if people were more flexible about there understanding of relationships and stop trying to have a one-size-fits-all attitude that everyone needs to settle at this point or another in there adult life then hopefully people would end up in happier, more fulfilling, but possibly more temporary relationships. Or maybe people just need to be themselves and stop lying to one another and themselves about what they want out of a relationship. Ok, need to end this messy rant, lol.

    1. “Or maybe people just need to be themselves and stop lying to one another and themselves about what they want out of a relationship.”

      This is probably the truth of it! I think that guy really does actually want to marry her, but also wants to look “cool” in front of his friends (even typing that is so cringe). It was just the contrast between her being so genuine and sweet and then … “boys being boys” which for some reason always seems to need to include some put-down of a girl, whether it’s intended or not. I don’t think it crossed his mind he was being unkind to her. He was pretty drunk!

  5. I hate the phrase ‘settling down’. Social expectations about relationships are my pet hate and how it’s so different for the guy vs the girl. At my sisters wedding last April everyone kept saying to me to hurry up and set a date, what was I waiting for, you don’t want to be too old a bride, biological clock ..blah blah then I actually saw a guy High five Kevin and congratulate him for ‘dodging the bullet for so long!’
    I’ve never been big on the idea of marriage (I was happy when I got engaged but secretly was having panic attacks inside) but I think it’s more a dislike for ‘settling down’

    1. I can’t even express how much I hate the fact that I seem to be asked about getting married at every. single. social. event. whereas Scrubs is blithely oblivious to the pressure. It makes me feel so gross. We’re not engaged and I’m not in any rush but I swear people talk to me with pity in their voices when I tell them how long we’ve been together, like there must be something wrong with me or Scrubs must not be sure just because I don’t have a ring on my finger. Argh!

      1. Same!!!! I feel like I should be In that freak show you posted about because ..’my little sister beat me down the aisle!’ Women in my family totally pity me, it’s so annoying and ridiculous!! Like I’m really not that fussed about a piece of paper and and a party….besides I prefer my own name 😜

  6. Ugh the phrase “settle down” also makes me cringe. It does seem to come across negative…. So Settling up is a FANTASTIC view! I hope you don’t mind if I use this as my mantra for my future haha.

    It is also disheartening to hear the ole ball and chain comments and witnessing such negativity regarding such a beautiful part of life. It’s actually reasons like that that makes me so paranoid about that level of commitment. No one ever wants to be talked negativity behind their backs especially about marriage! Yeeeshh men wtf.

    I agree with you 100% about hitting the roof if I were in that situation. Additionally, I would probably consider a nice swift kick in thier ass too 😉 But we all know that getting beat up by a girl and if she gave some sass back would truly bruise that male ego – just wouldn’t be able to handle it!

    I support this post entirely, loved the read and can’t wait to read more!

    1. Yeah. I want my partner to have my back and be my bona fide teammate, not put me down to look cool around a group of lads that he barely sees. Thanks for the comment!

  7. Quinn, I seriously think you need to tell that prat’s fiancée what he is doing behind her back. It sounds like a disaster waiting to happen. If you are not close to her, maybe suggest it to someone who is? He is an immature idiot who is unlikely to take his role as a husband seriously, let alone that of being a father. My skin is crawling ta the thought of him!

    I also hate the “settle down” line, though I am well past the age when people say it to me. It should never be said to any young people as it tries to push them into a mould or suggests that the life they are living is inferior in someway. I agree that it has negative connotations!

    Great thoughts from you again!

    1. I don’t know either of them to be honest, but I’m about 95% sure he was looking forward to getting married but, you know, *secretly*. He was drunk and talking to a bunch of lads, so I think he was more concerned with looking “cool” in front of them than realising he might be acting unkindly and making her look a little foolish…

  8. it freaks me out too but I think that’s because I had ‘settled down’ for such a long time.
    i think there are ways of settling down that are easy and lovely and cool, but it’s important to keep your freedom, independence, spunk and always punch people who ask ‘when are you going to settle down?’

    1. Haha yes. I know a couple of relationships that are #GOALS as the yoof these days would say, and honestly they’re something to aspire to. Great teams of two people who honestly are so considerate of each other and each others’ needs. We can dream! And I’m going to have to invest in a boxing glove for that last one. I don’t want to bruise my knuckles!

  9. first off. Loved the featured image. Reminds me what’s important in life:) And I hear you on the derogatory terminology with “settle down.” I’ve “settled in” for a cozy after breakfast nap with my wife, especially on a cold winters day, and I’ve “settled up” after a big night of winning at the Blackjack tables in Vegas. But… I don’t think we’re the “settling down” type. Fortunately, great relationships (as you allude to in this excellent post) don’t require it.

  10. I often portray my own wife as rather a bumptious harridan in my blog, but it’s frequently at her insistence. I think she has fantasies of being some sort of Ice Queen, cruelly wielding her beauty to subjugate men who come to worship her. Or something like that. Anyway, she sometimes reads over my shoulder as I’m typing and says, “Oooo, make me meaner! Make me meaner!”

    And that’s one of the things I would put on my own “Big List O’ Relationship Keys”: a similar sense of humor. If you can make each other laugh (or at least not make the other roll their eyes in disgust) that can defuse an awful lot of otherwise tense situations.

    The other thing I would put on the list is: have a shared passion. It doesn’t matter what it is – lamp finials, My Little Pony, REAL ponies, ’30’s musicals, whatever – as long as it’s shared, and passionate. Looking forward to, and then participating in, an activity with and equally enthusiastic partner forges bonds like nothing else (including “having children”). I’ve often wondered why some of my friends have divorced while others stay together, and it seems that “shared passion” is the one common variable among the happy set.

    Oh – and great sex. How could you leave that off?? (I’ll chalk it up to naivete, poor girl.) Don’t stop having it. Trust, Honesty, Gratitude, blah blah blah, all sound great in the amorphous platitudinous way that everyone seems to love in poems, Hallmark movies, and relationship themed motivational posters. But unless you’re boinking (bonking?) regularly and filthily, that list means diddly. You could get all of those qualities from a dog. If you’re not Doing It with wild abandon every chance you get, you have a roommate, not a mate.

    Finally, and most importantly: don’t take relationship advice from strangers on the internet. We’re idiots.

  11. It can be a bit frightening to think about spending a lifetime with one person. I definitely think that’s true.

    According to LiveScience.com, “Of the roughly 5,400 species of mammals, only 3 to 5 percent are known to form lifelong pair bonds.” Most all species on Earth do NOT “settle down!” Why should we be any different? Could we ever truly BE any different!? “Ball and chain.” Hahaha. 😉

    I can promise you now that if that guy ever had that situation reversed on him, he would absolutely hit the roof.

    Not all guys (alot?) are exactly the same. <3 🙂 And "falling out of love" happens all the time. No big deal. But 'falling in love' does too! Woooohooooo! All your "What ifs" Quinn are valid and justified.

    On your six qualities for a healthy relationship, I would add at least two more:
    -Trust
    -Honesty
    -Gratitude
    -Respect
    -Love
    -Communication (proactive!)
    -Lots of Laughing!
    -COMPERSION!

    …it really opened my eyes to how rare it is to be in a good relationship.

    Hmmm, definitely disagree here. Sorry, however I understand and empathize with your POV/context. <3 Definitely nothing wrong at all with being single! Not alone, mind you! But single? It's fine too! "Settling UP", sideways, down, all around… whichever. Just be with those who further invigorate you, make you more whole, make you laugh, challenge you… basically a team of marrow-suckers!!! 😀

    You are just fine Quinn. Besides, you are ONLY 30-something? 😉

  12. Quinn, another great read!

    I enjoyed reading your perspective on settling down. I honestly have never thought about it in that type of way before. Which is because I have always seen settling down as a way of saying, when you are young and haven’t married you are wild and free and careless, but when you find the person you are ready to spend the rest of your life with, you decide to settle down. Settle down in the way that you might not go out to bars every weekend anymore, your responsibilities grow because it’s not about you anymore but it’s about you and your spouse, usually that includes starting a family and having to be the grown up for a child that you are responsible for (if children is a path you take). Settling down isn’t a bad phrase and honestly you break down is completely accurate. You are settling down by slowing down and growing up. I hope all of that made sense..

    Marriage is a wonderful thing, as is being a mother! My husband is my BEST friend. We are POLAR opposites and I think that’s a good thing. He fills in all that is missing in me, where I am weak he is strong and vice versa. For instance, he is the voice of reason, when I want to be unreasonable and I keep his head on straight when it would normally float away because he is so laid back and care free.

    Plus, there is no reason to be afraid of it all. If it is a desire of yours, then you will have it. If not, then that’s totally okay too. You are on YOUR time, not everyone else’s. AND you seem to be having fun!

    P.S. I took a very similar picture of my lab last night in our chair. She is so spoiled!

    1. This whole comment made me smile so much. Scrubs is my polar opposite too (except that we’re both quite relaxed) and I do think it works well! I can feel your love for your husband and it’s so nice!

  13. “Settle up!” Ha! I love it so much. I’ve never thought about how depressing settling down actually sounds. I think I’ll stop using the term in reference to my life, lol. Good stuff!

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