The Difference Between Compromise and Settling in a Relationship

Posted by in dating in midlife, first date success, love after 40 | 0 comments

difference between settling and compromising Hi Sandy,

I’m a divorced 44 year-old woman who was married to an abusive man. He has full custody of my kids, and I have been lonely and sad for a few years now. I want to get remarried. Recently, I met a guy online who lives 5 hours away. He has good character traits, not especially good looking, but he seems sensible. He has a good business, was never married, has no kids, and is 46 years old. He has high blood pressure and cholesterol, had cancer 10 years ago, but says he’s improving his health daily with exercise & alternative healing. I haven’t met him yet, but we are planning to meet shortly. I’m so unsure about what to do.

Do you see physical illness as a person having unresolved mental issues? My choices are narrowed down, and one of the most important things is being able to communicate, good character traits, and being a good business man.

I know I can’t be too picky if I want a good-hearted non-abusive man. I become more afraid every day, being alone without my kids, and without money. I realize that marriage is not a hospital and I don’t plan to be a caretaker, but I’m not sure if we have enough in common. Would I be settling? Should we meet or not? What do you think?


Dear Lisa,

There seem to be two main issues here. The first is whether this guy is worth meeting/dating. And the second is what’s the difference between settling and compromising in a relationship?

As to whether he’s worth meeting? From your description, there are pros and cons.

The pros: he seems financially stable, and has ‘good character traits’. Not sure what those character traits are though,since you’ve only known him via phone and email. It’s hard to really know what his true character is. That requires time and in-person dates.

The cons:

  1. First there’s the long distance issue. The five hour distance can be a big obstacle in forming an intimate relationship. If both parties are not fully committed, it won’t work.
  2. Then, there’s his ailing physical health. I’m concerned about his health issues, and whether or not you would end up becoming his caretaker. I am also concerned about how much of his health issues he disclosed this early on.
  3. I think he suffers from TMI. In my experience, people who disclose too much about themselves too quickly are often needy and/or have boundary issues.
  4. You describe his looks as ‘not especially good looking’. Don’t discount the importance of attraction. If he’s somewhat attractive to you, attraction can grow. But if he really turns you off? Not so much…
  5. He’s never been married. You have. That’s not a definite deal breaker, but you don’t share the big life experience of marriage. And to get to midlife without a marriage? That raises red flags about commitment issues, selfishness, etc. You would need to get to know him better to see if that’s true for him.


If it was me, I wouldn’t meet him unless the communication and connection over the phone was over the top amazing. And I would Skype or do Face Time before either of you committed to a five-hour trip.

Difference Between Compromise and Settling?

My biggest concern is that I detect an undercurrent of fear in your email. Fear that you won’t meet a great guy. Fear that you won’t be able to marry again. Fear of being alone the rest of your life.

If you are dating from a place of fear, you will probably end up settling, and you won’t be honoring your true core values in a relationship. If you settle, you suffer in the long run.

Compromise, on the other hand, is important in any relationship. You are two people coming together with different habits. For example, you can compromise on where to go for a vacation, but you settle when it’s a scuba diving vacation and you hate the water. Especially if that’s where you always vacation, and you never go to places that would meet your recreational needs, too.

My gut feeling is that this guy is not a good match for you. You need to believe you are special and will find the right man. He’s out there. But if you date from a place of fear, you will not make a sound choice in a mate.



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

AlphaOmega Captcha Classica  –  Enter Security Code

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.