It is often extremely easy to issue advice to friends and family about their romantic choices. As such, you may be a bit confused if you happen to be on the receiving end of such advice. For the most part, making romantic choices should come naturally to you. Attraction isn’t something that one necessarily needs to ponder for a great deal of time. But getting into long-term relationships (especially marriage) is something that often requires careful consideration. Some people have “high standards”; some people just have a long list of “wants.” The reasons why people lower their personal standards are obvious (low self-esteem, fear, etc.) But how are you to know if you actually are “settling” in your romances? Here are three tell-tale clues…

That “Nagging” Feeling

You know that nagging feeling that you get when you’ve left the house and think that you’ve forgotten to do something–pesky issues like leaving the stove or iron on, forgetting to lock the door, or some other important task. Experiencing this sensation as it relates to your spouse could be a red flag that you’re not completely content with your romantic choice. For example, if during social engagements, you frequently feel uneasy about being seen with your mate, consider the reason(s) why. Does your partner tend to get into debates with others? Does he/she make others in the room uncomfortable? Maybe you don’t like your partner’s choice of attire. No one is perfect. But if you are often embarrassed or distressed over outings with your spouse, look into whether those reasons are “superficial” or tied to a deep-seated character flaw. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. As such, true love typically overrides any physical imperfections you feel your partner has. In short, you should be proud to spend time with your mate whether you are in private or out on the town.

Uneven Scales

Do you often find that you’re the first one to “back down” during arguments or disagreements? Are your personal wishes often sacrificed for the “better of the relationship?” This mode of thinking goes a little bit farther than who gets to hold the remote control. Often in romantic relationships, there is a push-and-pull-an emotional tug of war that couples experience. This is natural, as circumstances will sometimes reflect two separate sets of opinions. Needless to say, both parties should be willing to find some sort of objective ground. Obviously, this is much easier said than done. But if you constantly feel the need to “make peace”-without really resolving issues, more than likely you will eventually build up resentment. This build-up is the stuff that potential flare-ups are made of.

Running Out of Time

Let the record show that true love happens during all stages of life, to different types of people-and at any age. You should never feel as if you are “running out of time” to find a potential partner. In fact, those who have been single for a while sometimes find that their extensive dating experience makes it easier to determine who is right for them-and who is not. One clue that you’re settling is when you feel “pressured” (even slightly) to settle into a permanent/long-term relationship merely because others around you have alluded to some sort of time limit. For women, the “biological clock” is perhaps the most prevalent benchmark. Certainly, women do have a certain amount of time to conceive. But there should not be an overt struggle between the desire to become a mother and the desire to be in a loving, healthy relationship. If you are in a relationship where childbearing “overrides” happiness in other areas of the union, you may be prone to “settling”, simply to accomplish your goal of procreating. In essence, relaxing your standards to meet an imaginary time line (often imposed by others) is a sure-fire way to introduce potential relationship problems.