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Are You Really In Love Or Are You Just Settling?

Are you with your man for the right reasons? Is he Mr. Right, or just Mr. Maybe?

As a Cosmo girl, you're out to get what you want and what you deserve. By this time, you've probably been rewarding yourself with the best: the right job that satisfies your interests, the pad you've always dreamed of, close friendships that have taken you through your quarter life crisis, and the perfect man you could ever hope for.

But is he, really?

"I thought I was happy when my college mate, Eddie, and I got together, six years ago," says Pamela, 28, an interior designer. "After all, my whole barkada was lusting over him, but I was the one he pursued and courted after graduation." It took Pamela less than two minutes to say yes when he asked her to be his girlfriend, thinking that it was the end of her boy blues. It didn't turn out as she expected. "Our relationship was rocky. He was the type who wanted his ego to be fed. I was kept in the shadow. I was always known as 'Eddie's girlfriend.' I thought I was okay with it, I thought I was happy. We got engaged, but I broke it off. But sometimes, I can't help but feel that I wasted those six years of my life."

Convenience Quotient

"Many are settling for less than love in their relationships," says mental and spiritual coach Aluna Joy Yaxkin. "Many stay in a relationship much longer than they want to, because it is simply inconvenient to leave them." This would mean, she says, that they would have to go through the turmoil of losing the relationship. "Many things change when we leave any form of relationship. We might have to move, change our jobs, lose a few of our friends, or even wake up and have to evolve to the next level."

Admit it, what we may actually be loving in our relationship is not really our man, but the convenience that he and the relationship provides. We live in a world of convenience—sometimes we believe that's all we want. "We have convenience stores, convenient online shopping, convenient jobs and convenient condo living," says Yaxkin. But are we really happy?

Fringe Benefits

Most of the time, convenient "relationships [are] based upon purely selfish reasons—reasons that have nothing to do with love, commitment to growth and development, or sharing our life," says relationship coach Deborah Cooper.

Cooper further explains that "people may say they're with their partner because of love, but often when you dig a little deeper, you'll hear statements like 'I want to start a family,' 'I was tired of being alone and lonely,' 'I needed emotional support,' 'I needed to feel that I had somebody in my corner.'"

You may not realize it, but these are all motivated by personal gain—the wrong reason to get into and stay in a relationship. Everything may seem fine when you think your needs are being met. But once they aren't, these types of relationships are, sooner or later, bound to collapse; they're most likely to be filled with disappointment, disillusionment, and hurt. Staying in such a relationship and pretending that everything is fine is being unfair to yourself and to your partner. Moreover, if you're settling for less than you truly deserve when it comes to love, you're only shortchanging yourself.

Mr. Maybe

Find out if you're in a so-called relationship of convenience or benefits. "One of the reasons people end relationships with negative feelings is that they stay together too long," says John Gray, author of Mars and Venus on a Date. "They try too hard to make the relationship work." Often, it's by believing in a fantasy, trying to change their partner, or compromising too much, without realizing that he or she is so wrong for them after all. If you're in such paramour purgatory, it may be high time to make the commitment to leave or re-examine your relationship. Waiting it out and wasting your time won't make a breakup less painful or less difficult.

Cosmo cites six false notions that may just leave you wallowing in relationship limbo with your man. If any of the following sound familiar, you might be committing a Mr. Maybe mistake. It'll be wise to accept the facts and move on.

Mr. Maybe Mistake 1: "He's the man of my dreams."

Often, we settle for an image rather than actually falling in love with a person. Hilda, 24, immediately said yes when Rico, the campus crush ng bayan, proposed to her after only six months of going steady. "I was so flattered then," recalls Hilda. "Imagine, he was everyone's crush! Ang daming girls na humahabol sa kanya, but he picked me!" They got married right after graduation only to separate four years after. "It didn't work out," says Hilda now, who explains that they had very different ways of dealing with the mundane concerns of everyday life. "He was so different from my expectations," she says. "I fell in love with the campus crush, not the husband and life partner I truly desired."

Click through to the next page to see the five other Mr. Maybe mistakes.
Mr. Maybe Mistake 2: "We're so bagay for each other."

You've been voted prom and king and queen. People often tell you how damn good you both look together. No matter how alike your interests are, or how picture-perfect you look side-by-side, doesn't mean that you'll be satisfied with the deeper aspects of your relationship. "They always told me that since we were both aktibista, magkakasundo kami lagi," says Christine, 27, a volunteer for a non-government agency. She's been living in for five years with her boyfriend Nick, 29, who's also employed in an NGO. On a trip abroad, Christine met a guy to whom she was extremely attracted, but she could not bring herself to break up with Nick.

In the case of Charity, 28, a marketing assistant, their bagay factor was qualified by the length of time they were together. "My classmates kept telling me, 'You guys have been together since high school—fate na 'yan,'" she says, who has been with her boyfriend, Adrian—her best friend and first crush—for over 15 years. When Adrian proposed, Charity didn't hesitate to say yes—only to break off the engagement. "We were just comfortable with each other because we had known each other for so many years. There came a point na nagsawa na talaga." Being together for a long time or seeming oh-so-bagay doesn't always mean that you're right for each other.

Mr. Maybe Mistake 3: "He's madly in love with me."

"Owen was the one who was the most todo-bigay in love with me among all my suitors and ex-boyfriends," shares Luisa, 24, a call center agent. So she said yes when Owen, her boyfriend of three years, proposed to her. But did she love him back as much? "I knew he loved me sobra, and I thought I did with the same intensity," she says now. "But I have to admit, there were times that I just wasn't interested in him. I just didn't care. And most of all, I had to admit to myself that I wasn't fully satisfied with the relationship."

Some people argue that you can learn to love someone if that someone truly loves you. "It can be extremely flattering to find someone to love you unconditionally; some people spend a lifetime in search of this kind of love," says Hector. Love, however, involves two people; it's a two way street. "You will hardly find true happiness in a love relationship if you cannot equally return the love you are receiving from your mate," adds Hector.

Mr. Maybe Mistake 4: "My family and friends love him."

"Whenever my boyfriend Ricky visits me at home, my dad never fails to declare that he's the son he never had," says Anna, 23, who has three other sisters. "But sometimes, naiinis ako whenever Ricky gets so controlling. He'll always tell me to eat konti lang so I won't gain weight, grow my hair long so I'll look more feminine, or not wear makeup, and if I do, bawal ang red lipstick. So sometimes, I ask myself, 'Will I really be happy trying to live up to his expectation of a slim and simple girl?'" Yet whenever Anna brings up Ricky's controlling ways to her parents, they always seem to dismiss it as concern on Ricky's side. "I figured, he must be doing that for my own good naman," she says. It wasn't until Ricky refused to talk to her for three days after she pigged out at a buffet that she realized: "He doesn't love me. I was just settling for him, because he made my parents happy."

You are not here to satisfy your family. "People who settle this way, usually rationalize that maybe they are being too picky," says Hector. "And when they reconsider their assessment they do not believe their choice of a partner was influenced by others; they believe it was their own decision."

Mr. Maybe Mistake 5: "He's financially stable."

Melanie, 25, a real estate agent, is engaged to Allan, 30. "I can't wait to marry him," she says now. Never mind that Allan is prone to jealous rages and constantly loses his temper. "Ganyan talaga, okay lang 'yan," says Melanie. "As long as he provides for me as a husband, pwede na siya."

Some women believe that a Prince Charming is out there to save us from our financial woes. Hence, we don't think twice about "marrying up." "Young women without economic resources see this as a way to acquire the financial stability they cannot get alone," says Cooper.

"Getting into a relationship for security reasons is just one of the many blunders that men and women make when it comes to choosing a partner," says Henry Krakow, PhD. "That relationship is a time bomb waiting to explode—whether it takes months or years. A relationship based on convenience just never works."

Mr. Maybe Mistake 6: "I don't want to be alone."

Women are terrified of being alone, says Nancy Good, author of How to Live with the Difficult Man You Love. Cooper agrees, "Many women believe they are nothing without a man." Others think that having a boyfriend or gaining the title of "Mrs." will make life easier and happier. "In spite of their careers, education, and financial success, these women often believe that without a man they are complete failures," she adds.

Betty Friedan, author of The Feminine Mystique, says that the reason women are often drawn to coupledom is that "the security of togetherness" is just too tempting to pass up.

"Loneliness is another culprit that drives us to seek unsatisfying relationships that end disastrously," says Krakow. "We have all been lonely at some point in life so you know what it can do to you."

The fear of spending your whole life without someone can consume you and drive you to make a decision to stay and stick it out in a bad relationship. Or, it can lead you to choose to be in a relationship with someone totally wrong for you. Add your biological clock into the picture and being with someone almost transforms into a desperate need. "The worst thing about it is that it can drive you to make choices that are bound to cause you pain and heartache in the long run," says Krakow.

Learn to be happy solo and take care of your health—and that includes being in a relationship that you want and derive true happiness from.

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