Do you wonder if you are settling in your relationship? Do you feel shame and guilt when you think about it?
In this episode, I clear up what it means to settle and help you drop any negative feelings around the idea.
In real examples, you’ll be able to recognize if you have some things to shake up or if your job is to just keep going exactly as you are and keep trusting the process.
Rather than looking for outward signs of settling, you’ll learn what it feels like inside of you, and how to fix any inward signs of settling.
I am Andrea Giles, and you’re listening to the Heal from Infidelity podcast
episode number 88, Am I Settling?
Hello and welcome to the Heal from Infidelity podcast where courageous
women learn not only to heal from their spouse’s betrayal but to become the
boldest, truest, most decisive and confident versions of themselves ever.
If you know there’s more freedom than the life you’re currently living but
don’t quite know how to get there, you are in the right place. Stick around
to learn how to create a life that will knock your own socks off. Is it
possible? It is, and I’m here to show you how. I’m your host Andrea Giles.
Are you ready? Let’s dive in.
Hi, my friends. I am back from a wonderful training about relationships. I
learned so much, it pushed me hard. I felt all the feels, it taught me some
things that I had not considered before for myself, for my own
relationships, and things that I want to bring back to you. One of the
things that I have been thinking about in regards to my clients is this
question of, am I settling? If I stay, am I settling? So I want to talk
about that today. Many of you are in the position of deciding to stay or go
or some of you have already decided you want to stay but you wonder if
you’re settling by staying. So today let’s talk about it, what does it mean
to settle first off? Here is my definition. It means to stay in any
relationship where you think that it is the best you can have or ask for,
there’s not much progress or motion, it feels stagnant.
I’m going to give you a couple object ideas to think about. I want you to
picture a jar of water with sand at the bottom. The sand settles to the
bottom, right? What makes the sand move? Motion, picking the jar up and
giving it just the slightest shake will make the sand move. Or you can tip
it upside down and turn everything on its head. The sand only settles when
there is no movement. When that jar is left alone and it is good enough
where it’s at, that is settling. Just going to leave it here, it’s fine, it
doesn’t need to move. That is settling. Here’s another object. A while
back, I tried my hand at sourdough. Have any of you done sourdough?
So you get a little starter, you mix it with water. And every day you have
to add a little bit of water and you have to stir it. And what I learned is
that if you do not stir it, it goes bad. And it becomes very, very sour and
rotten and moldy and you have to toss it out. But if you stir it every day,
it will continue to grow the bacteria that gives it that distinct flavor
and health benefit in sourdough bread, sourdough pancakes, all the things.
Now, it doesn’t always have to be you that stirs the sourdough but somebody
has to. As long as somebody’s still stirring it, it’s not going to settle
and become rotten and you can still reap the benefits of it. Now, with
infidelity or any marital problem, you are both going to take turns shaking
that up, shaking that jar up, stirring that bowl.
Sometimes he will, sometimes you will. Sometimes you both will be doing it
together simultaneously. As long as you are both taking steps to shake
things up and move things forward, you are not settling. Now, one note, one
person’s efforts greatly affect the other. Everything inside that jar is a
system that works together. If the system is shaken up, everything inside
it gets moved. But sometimes people cling tightly to old systems and ways
of doing things for their own reasons, fear, doubt, guilt, shame, not being
willing to burn down the old. If they’re still in contact with their
initial affair partner, they’re not going to be able to fully engage in
building a new system until they have made a firm decision and acted on it.
So that kind of space does not mean that you’re stagnant, it means that
you’re gathering information. When you are stirring it up and looking at
your partner’s willingness to be shaken up themselves, to grow, to move, to
answer their own questions, to look inward. That’s how you get information,
you’re information gathering.
It doesn’t mean that you are settling when you’re in this space. Let’s look
at what settling actually looks like. Settling is actually more of a
collection of thoughts than outward symptoms. Here are some common ones,
this is the best I can do. No one else will want me, so I might as well
stay here. No one else will want to take on all these kids, so I might as
well stay here because I don’t want to do it alone. He will completely fall
apart if I don’t stay. I owe him staying because of what he has done for me
in the past. I’m not perfect, so I can’t expect him to be. I won’t be able
to financially take care of myself, so I guess I’ll stay. My kids need a
dad in the home, so I’ll stay.
I could go on and on forever here with these kinds of thoughts, but I just
want to say that if you consistently have these kinds of thoughts and use
those thoughts to hide, to shrink, you may be settling. Why do I say maybe
settling instead of settling? Because there are nuances with it. There are
nuances in each relationship only you can answer. I’m just giving you some
things to look at. Now, let’s say we pluck all of those thoughts out of
your brain, all those settling thoughts out of your brain and replace them
with these. What would you do differently? How would your action change up
the system? Here are some thoughts. I am waiting and watching and making a
very deliberate choice to give him time and space to figure this out. He
either will or he won’t, but I know I will be okay. I don’t know exactly
how I will financially take care of myself, but I know I’ll figure it out.
I would love my kids to have their dad in the home, but what I want most
for them is peace, I will fight for their peace.
He may fall apart if I leave, and it’s okay. Sometimes people have to feel
the full weight of their choices to change, I want what is best for him and
for me. I know there are other good men out there who would be interested
in me. I am a good, smart, capable woman, but for now I choose to stay
here, I will know if the answer changes. I am imperfect, but I am always
trying. That is the standard I hold myself to and the standard I hold him
to. So let’s look at some examples of what settling might look like in real
life. I work with clients who initially when they first found out about the
infidelity were very, very upset and they gave themselves a little bit of
time like a month or less to be mad, to talk about it. And then it got
swept under the rug. And then they come to me two years later, three years
later, sometimes more going, “I don’t know why I’m still having such a hard
It’s because they pushed it away. And when they tried to bring it up to
their spouse, it’s met with defensiveness, avoidance, anger even sometimes
like, why are you bringing it up, we already worked through it? This my
friends is settling. Why? Because we are meant to grow. If there are things
that need to be unearthed and really processed to move forward and they’re
being shoved down and not given air to breathe, it will be settling. If you
both act like it never happened but you’re seething inside, this is
settling. Why? Because you are settling for less of you. I’m going to come
back to that.
Example number two, sometimes my clients will come and say they are just
waiting for their partners to decide between them and the affair partner. I
cannot say what is best for my clients, but I do go digging around and
asking why they’re staying in that space. If it is a space of pick me, pick
me where you just hope and pray you are the lucky one, you are settling.
Why? Because you are forgetting your own worth. You’re settling for
someone’s crumbs, you’re settling for less of you, less of what you have to
offer and less than what you are capable of receiving. Last example, you
have done the work, you have stirred that jar up, shaken up the system to
the best of your ability. Have you made some mistakes along the way?
Absolutely. But you keep showing up, you keep trying. And yet, he doesn’t
show signs of wanting to grow.
So at springtime people are starting to plant, right? Getting plants,
planting them in their yards, doing potted plants for the porch, things
like that. I want you to picture a potted plant. If the potted plant stays
in a container that’s too small as it grows, then what happens is the roots
get all tangled up and eventually it dies because it doesn’t have enough
space to go deep and to spread out and to be able to collect all of the
nutrients available to it. It literally cannot receive all the goodness
that is trying to be given to it, and it will die. If you take that plant
out and move it into a bigger container and put new soil in, give it some
water and some sunshine, it will probably feel a little shock for a little
bit. It might not know what’s going on, like this is a new space, it might
look unhealthy for a minute. And then it starts to settle in and then it
flourishes. It grows and grows and grows, and it has enough room for those
roots to spread.
If we’re talking about a system for both of you, you will probably know if
you need more space. You will know deep inside when you’re ready for more.
It’s like you are called to it. It’s almost like this painful yearning like
I must grow. This is killing me, I can’t breathe here. So you invite your
spouse to this bigger space, you say, “This is where I’m going, do you want
to go?” And this is done by asking and requesting time together and maybe
learning some things together and really getting clear on what it is that
you’re wanting and really clearly communicating that. If he digs in his
heels and you choose to stay in that smaller pot with him, you may be
Now, there are instances where you head on over to the smaller pot and you
let them stay where they are and you just love him. You’re like, yep, it
looks kind of uncomfortable over there, it looks kind of difficult. But as
long as you are still growing, you’re not settling. You might just decide
that you want somebody to come with you to your bigger space. That’s all,
it’s not settling. I want to point out a theme with everything that I’ve
said so far, settling is much less about what the other person is doing or
isn’t doing, it is more about what you create for yourself. It is about the
high standard you have for yourself and what you hold onto for you.
Settling means thinking and asking for and receiving less than what you’re
capable of having, less than what you desire, less than what you deserve.
It’s very personal.
If you are seeing movement and motion, it’s very possible you are not
settling. If you’re not being stagnant yourself, if you’re challenging
yourself, if you’re stepping into the things that feel hard and scary, you
are moving. Now, there are some behaviors that some people exhibit that can
be very clear indicators that this may not be the best place to continue
laying down your roots, and I want to touch on those. Any form of abuse,
mental, physical, spiritual, and otherwise. What does this look like? It
looks like stonewalling, intentionally ignoring each other, manipulation,
lying, sneaking, demanding sexual things from you that you are not
comfortable with and then guilting you into saying yes. Controlling where
you go, what you do, who you’re with, what you spend.
Gottman, if you’ve heard of John Gottman, he has something called the four
horsemen that he uses as a pretty accurate indicator, predictor of what
marriages are going to fail. The four horsemen are criticism, contempt,
defensiveness, and stonewalling. And in the future, I will do a full
episode about these. But if these things are happening in your marriage,
they lead to a dead end if they are not addressed, if they go unchecked.
Again, criticism, contempt, defensiveness, stonewalling. If they go
unchecked and if it continues on, you could be settling because it will
lead to a dead end. So where do you go from here? Take an honest look at
where you are in your relationship, how are you showing up? Are you still
shaking things up or sneaking away, hiding, waiting on him to do something?
I don’t want you to settle on you. There is greatness inside of you, it
If you feel like you’re going to bust open, listen to that, trust it,
follow it, it will lead you somewhere good. Don’t settle. If you lead out
with yourself, lead out with your heart using your own desires, your own
needing to move to that other bigger pot as your guide as to how to show up
in your marriage, you will know the next step to take even if it means
leaving a relationship with someone who does not want to grow with you.
Don’t settle on yourself, don’t diminish yourself. If you’re not
diminishing yourself and your need to grow and you’re continuing to move
forward, you’re not settling. Keep growing, keep shaking things up and
you’ll know if it’s time to move to a bigger pot and you’ll know if it’s
time to leave someone behind that doesn’t want to go with you or to let it
be okay that they’re not coming with you and still grow yourself. I hope
you found this helpful today, and I will see you next week, bye-bye.
Thank you for listening to the Heal from Infidelity podcast. If you would
like to be kept in the know about upcoming free classes, new podcast
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it’s andreagiles.com/lies-about-infidelity/. I will see you next time.