212: Settling

If you had a job that paid good money, it came with all the package benefits, and enabled you to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle and provide for your family, but there were one or two aspects of it that jarred with you but were tolerable, would you resign in the hope of finding the perfect job elsewhere, or would you take the rough with the smooth and be thankful how lucky you were to have what you had?

I have seen some aspects of Leigh’s life over the last month or so that have made me stop and think, and I totally get it now, why he wouldn’t want to give it all up for one aspect of his life that is lacking. Honestly, if that was me, I would probably do the same. He has an idyllic life in so many ways. He may be a cheater, but he is also a self preservationist.

I read something on a forum the other day from a male perspective which again I think is a very realistic perception if you are in an amicable relationship:

‘The love is there, but it is difficult to have the open relationship talk. If you love someone to death it’s fuckin’ scary to think a few sentences could end years of marriage. So we live in fantasy land.’

Why would Leigh risk that after 30 years of hard work? I am sure it’s not that simple and this article articulates many of my thoughts around this. It’s not my place to judge by my empathy for his situation grows.

I have never been as lucky as him to have something worth hanging on to. For me, leaving was always a no-brainer that far outweighed any of the benefits of staying. There was never anything precious enough to stay for. But I understand how someone that has a pretty good life wouldn’t want to give it up because not everything was 100%. Nothing is ever perfect and sex is never a good enough reason to leave.

So whilst I have sometimes projected small glimmers of hope that maybe, just maybe, one day he might reconsider his situation at some point in the future, I have completely wiped that from my mind. He would an idiot to give up everything he has now, for me, or someone like me.

There are two ways I can approach this:

  1. Leave
  2. Let things continue as they are for now because it’s not a bad set up.

Do you see how ironic this situation is? Yes, that’s right, I am also settling. What would I be leaving him for? Another stint on Tinder? More singledom? To find myself in exactly the same situation I was in just before I met him? And what do I get by staying? Him. Reliable contact. Affection, A nice guy. Fun. Insight into someone else’s life. Someone on my wavelength. I also get to keep the independence I like and the life I have built for myself.

Neither of us is unhappy the way we are. It’s just not perfect. Yes, I’ve unpacked a lot here on this blog over the years, but analysing the way I feel about anything is par-for-the-course with me. I am always overthinking. It does not mean I am unhappy. It means I am always checking in, reevaluating and making sure I am where I want to be at any given time.

And I am.

I don’t think the idea of settling is so bad, but it depends on how you mentally cope with the physical settlement. If you can balance the positives with the not so positives it is doable. Living comfortably financially and physically in a loveless, sexless marriage that is not toxic and is at least harmonious for everyone concerned, isn’t the worst of situations.

But if you can’t shut off permanently or temporarily to emotional or sexual needs there will be times when settling isn’t quite all it. If it comes in phases as something you can get out of your system in bouts you may get by. And provided you don’t have regrets in later years about either the settling or the indiscretion then you’ve probably done better than most. Patching up the gaps with sticking plasters is the age-old response to unhappy relationships and why affairs pervade throughout history at every level. Whether it is right or wrong is a moot point because it continues to be a coping mechanism as an alternative to communicating, resolving or separating and that’s just because we are human and we all cope in different ways.

Unsatisfied partners who martyr themselves to the family or public image and seek out their satisfaction elsewhere do themselves no favours in the long term, but individual circumstances can only be realised at the end of one’s life when all is said and done and until your life is over, how do you know if it was worth the risk either way?

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