Yes, people are actually CHOOSING to settle.
If you believe romantic movies and novels, you probably believe that all of us have soulmates and it's up to us to find them. Unfortunately, this soulmate for all theory can cause a lot of distress if, try as you might, you just can't seem to find your very elusive soulmate.
You start to question yourself and the powers that be. Are you, for some reason, not worthy of a soulmate? Did you piss off the people in charge of these things? Was there something you were supposed to do but somehow missed?
Before you get too discouraged, a recent study from the University of Texas and California State University, San Bernardino, published in the journal Evolution & Human Behavior, found that relationship fulfillment isn't dependent on finding a perfect soulmate, but on finding the best possible partner available to us.
Settling? Yes, but in a good way.
The researchers wanted to find out what makes people happier: being with a partner who fulfills all of their ideal partner characteristics, or being with someone who is superior to all the other possible (and realistic) partner options available to them.
For the study, researchers asked 860 participants questions about what they preferred in a mate and how satisfied they were in their relationships. After analyzing the results, the study determined that one's relationship satisfaction doesn't depend on whether your partner actually matches your ideal preferences.
"Satisfaction and happiness are not as clear-cut as we think they are," said the study's lead author, Daniel Conroy-Beam. "We do not need ideal partners for relationship bliss. Instead, satisfaction appears to come, in part, from getting the best partner available to us."
Be happy with what you've got. You're not settling if you're happy and satisfied in your relationship.