Mismatched standards


Robin (saying to Marshall): “…every good relationship has a “reacher” and a “settler”

Ted: “Exactly! One person “reaches” for someone out of their league, the other one “settles” for someone below theirs”

A friend once quoted to me that in every relationship, there is a “reacher” and a “settler”. I believe she originally got this pearl of wisdom from the fount of all knowledge that is “How I Met Your Mother”. At the time she was reaching the end of a long term relationship with someone she obviously thought of as lesser to herself, but who thought the world of her. It got me thinking though, is this really the case in all relationships?

Photo by babibabishow

Walking down the street, you often see a couple that doesn’t quite add up. The woman is stunning, and the man… average at best- or vice versa! Think David Walliams and Lara Stone. Does the woman think that she has settled? Does the man constantly feel threatened that she will move on, being so obviously out of his league? Perhaps there is a third option that the outsider cannot pick up on. Maybe he has something else to offer other than his lack-lustre looks. Maybe he is hilarious, a geniu or a genuinely nice guy who will treat her right. Maybe she believes that as the shyer of the pair, he has, in fact, settled for her.

In my friend’s case, it is true that looks-wise she was “out of his league”. This was also true in terms of intelligence, with her being incredibly academic, he being more vocational. However had she really “settled” for this guy who had supported her and made her happy for over three years before her doubts set in? Was it healthy that she perceived herself to hold all the power in the relationship? I thought too of my own relationship, and of those around me. Who were the reachers and settlers in those? If indeed, there is one of each in every relationship.

Early on in my relationship, I went away to university, leaving my boyfriend three hundred miles away, working full-time at home. If someone were to ask me “what does your boyfriend do?” I could answer with “…errm something to do with computers… or electronics?” He didn’t find it terribly interesting, so I could hardly be expected to, right? I was meeting a lot of new people, having a lot of new experiences and it was my choice if and when to go home to see him (of course, I chose to do so as often as I could!)

I guess you could say that at this point in our relationship, I technically ‘held the power,’ but did that make me the settler? Fast forward two and a half years and he is training to do Intelligence work in the RAF. Pretty cool huh? I went six weeks without seeing him last term because of his extensive basic training. I had been thrown into the world of third year, stuck writing essays at uni, not going out as much, not meeting new people. While his life was new and exciting; mine felt suddenly very out of my control, and I didn’t like it much. If I sound bratty, I am just being honest. I am sure that many of you are all too familiar with the sense of wanting someone more when they feel out of your grasp. Did that mean I was now the reacher?

Turns out, he was feeling exactly the same way; his life felt out of his control. Yes, it was new and exciting, but also limiting, and mentally and physically exhausting. All he wanted to do was to kick back, relax and see me, along with a nice home cooked meal. I guess at that point we were both “reaching”.

What I am trying to get at is, yes, probably there will be times when, for one reason or another, you feel more like a “reacher” in your relationship. I know it to be true from my own experience. What I also know to be true, is that it cannot be healthy to believe you have “settled” for anybody! It didn’t do my friend a lot of good, she has since realised that not all boys are lovely all the time after all. Would you have thought it?

I don’t believe there to be a “reacher” and  a “settler” in every relationship. Will that mindset stop me from vocalising “why is she with him?!” when a magazine shows me another picture of Lara Stone looking fabulous, followed by a not-so-dapper Walliams? Probably not. But the fact  is that both partners had the choice, and they chose each other. The best relationships are those when you both believe yourself to be the “reacher”.

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