I know of a bunch of people who almost took the big leap—those who were all set in marrying their partners, those couples who have stable jobs and have the qualities of a good parent. They almost got married. Almost.

I bumped into one of them recently and found out that she remains single yet happier than ever. When I asked her why she chose to not to stay with her partner, her answer was simple. "I didn't want to settle. We just wanted to get married because it was the next, obvious step. Everyone expected it from us, but we knew that it wasn't what we both wanted." This led to a long conversation (over coffee) about what it is like to be really in love and not just to settle for what life offers.

So, to save everyone from future headaches and heartaches, here are some of the differences between settling and being in love:

Settling is steady and stable. Love is uncertain.
It's true that romance does fade, and there is nothing wrong if you believe that you and your beau are fine. But if you guys are always fine and steady—you rarely or never have arguments anymore, that might be a sign that you're both settling. You're used to his company, and it seems that it's routinary for you to spend time with each other.

When you're in love, you still get into fights, and it's okay. You both become even closer after an argument—you get to know each other more. You still get excited when you both make plans, that it's not just a task you are required to do. We're not all for bickering couples—that's not healthy, it's toxic. What we're saying is that there should be a balance between sunny and stormy days.

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Settling is making the right choice; being in love can go beyond rhyme and reason.
You are with someone who is everything you wish for—his qualities are ticked off your must-marry checklist. You feel that choosing this guy seems like the right and feasible choice (that's what your brain tells you so), and you feel safe with this decision. Maybe he's got a great job and your family loves him. You are certain that life will be comfortable. But what happens when his fate changes? Will you still stay?

On the other hand, when you're in love, there is no reason to back up your feelings. It just happens. Not to be confused with impulsive infatuation and crushes, being in love is a long-lasting emotion. It never leaves you. You still need and want the person in your life no matter what. Your heart wins over your brain.

Settling is safe, but love is terrifying.
When you choose to settle because you don't want pain anymore, that's not being wise. You're being a coward. Whether you choose to be in a loveless, business-like relationship or you just want to remain unattached, you're simply playing it safe. You settled. Basically this thought sums it up, "Wala na. Ito na yun eh."

Falling in love increases that the chances of you getting hurt, which makes it scary. But you're bold enough to experience that; you're willing to risk it all. You believe that being with this person will be worth it. Besides, it's not like you died after your past heartache. Just tell yourself, "Carpe diem, heart."


PHOTO: Flickr Creative Commons/Maggie Winters

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