11 Differences Between Settling In Love And Being Realistic

We know we shouldn’t settle in life, and in general that’s a good rule of thumb to follow. However, there’s a massive difference between settling and having realistic expectations, especially when it comes to dating and relationships.

  1. Fantasy is expecting him to pay for everything; reality is expecting that you’ll both contribute equally. It’s unfair to always expect that a guy will pay for everything, every time, just because he’s a man. This isn’t the 1950s. You wouldn’t like it if a guy expected you to sleep with him all the time just because you’re a woman. If you make as much money as him, you should pitch in too. If you don’t, find other ways to contribute to the relationship.
  2. Fantasy is expecting him to read your mind; reality is expecting him to ask what you’re thinking and care about the answer. Talking about our feelings can be hard and messy. Wouldn’t it be nice if our partners could just tell what we were upset about without us having to say anything at all? Sorry but this isn’t going to happen. Your boyfriend may be able to read your mood and tell something’s wrong but it’s still your responsibility to communicate your feelings to him. No dodging that bullet.
  3. Fantasy is expecting him to remember every little detail that you say; reality is expecting him to remember the important things. It’s really not fair to get mad at your boyfriend for forgetting something you mentioned in passing two weeks ago and that has had no impact on his life since then. Do you remember every single thing he tells you about his day? As long as he remembers the important things—when your mom’s birthday is, that you have a big presentation coming up, the way you like your coffee—that should be enough.
  4. Fantasy is expecting him to cater to your every wish; reality is expecting him to support your dreams. Your boyfriend is his own person, not a butler. Don’t try to turn him into one. You don’t need someone to serve you, you need someone to support you where it matters. Someone who will listen to your hopes and dreams, and will always do what they can to help you succeed.
  5. Fantasy is expecting him to be your only source of emotional support; reality is expecting him to be one of many. We all want to feel emotionally close to our boyfriends. We want to think that because they love us so much, they’ll always have the right answer and be able to help us when we’re down. Sometimes, people get overwhelmed. Maybe he also had a bad day at work, maybe he got in a fight with his best friend—the point is, you need to have a larger support network to vent your problems to than just him.
  6. Fantasy is expecting that you’ll be inseparable; reality is expecting you’ll be interdependent. Unless you’re a perfect clone of your partner, you’re going to have different interests from each other. There will always be times when you need some personal space, and that’s okay. It doesn’t mean that you aren’t well-matched for each other, it means that you’re individuals.
  7. Fantasy is expecting that he never look at other women; reality is expecting that he never pursue other women. We all have attractions, we all see people we think are hot. Getting angry at your guy for appreciating another woman’s beauty is just going to lead to an ugly fight. What matters most is that he never pursues another woman—never engages in an emotional relationship with one, never flirts beyond what you are comfortable with. It’s the difference between just looking at a car, and taking it for a test drive. Let him look and you look too—just don’t touch.
  8. Fantasy is expecting him to treat you like a princess; reality is expecting him to treat you like a queen. Queens have responsibilities. They’re held accountable for their actions. They rule alongside the king and they get stuff done. All a princess does is sit around in a tower waiting for a man she didn’t pick to come save her. She has no choices and she has no thoughts or ambitions of her own. You are so much better than a boring princess. Don’t settle for being treated as one.
  9. Fantasy is expecting him to sacrifice everything for you; reality is expecting to compromise. Relationships are all about balancing the needs and desires of two unique people. There will always be give-and-take but it has to come from both sides. If you expect your guy to sacrifice everything he cares about just for you then you’re saying that your needs and wants are more important than his own. That’s not healthy. Decisions need to be made together, taking into account what you both need.
  10. Fantasy is expecting him to protect you from everything; reality is expecting him to help you heal when you get hurt. You’re not a doll, a pet, or a child who’s too innocent to know what danger looks like. You’re a grown woman and you can learn how to take care of yourself. Sometimes you’ll get hurt, and sometimes it’ll be because of him. What you need is to know that, after it all, he’ll be there with a hug to help you through it.
  11. Fantasy is expecting that you’ll change him; reality is realizing that only he can change himself. It’s a hard truth, but here it is: no one ever has the power to change someone else. We can only change ourselves. It’s in so many stories, where a woman’s love is able to convert the dangerous bad boy from his misguided ways. But this isn’t a fairy tale. So don’t waste your effort in the hopes that one day it’ll get better. The change has to come from him.
Jolene Bell is a wordsmith, fairytale-loving feminist from Portland, OR. She grew up surrounded by creative entrepreneurs and storytellers, and through their influence developed a great love for writing. In college, Jolene studied English Literature with a focus on gender roles. She is a mild-mannered person until someone brings up a book that she doesn’t like - then all bets are off. Her main pastimes include reading, hiking, organizing her bookshelves, and snuggling with her cat.