It goes unsaid that many couples don’t see eye to eye on many topics. Sometimes it’s their spending habits or their non-complementary dressing style. Like you’re taking him to meet your parents, and he just gets into his ‘best’ tracksuit pajamas. Do you wonder if you might have settled for less, or maybe he’s just lucky that he’s got you?
It’s natural to feel a sense of inferiority or superiority towards your partner because of the manifestation of this toxic concept that has so conveniently fit in with the societal norms. Be it looks, family background or status, or one’s dressing sense, we are quick to judge the compatibility and success of a love story.
Psychology calls this the settler/reacher theory. In a relationship, one is the reacher, which leaves the other one as the settler. The terms are more or less self-explanatory.
We often believe that couples are made in heaven or that people of equal ‘value’ are destined to be with each other. However, couples that face the supposed ‘value’ barrier are subjected to the settler and reacher theory.
Deny it all you like, but even the best of us have judged a couple at first glance. The first thing that comes to mind when seeing a wealthy man dating a middle-classed girl is that she probably is with him for the money. Or when an average-looking guy ‘lands’ a real beauty, he’s lucky. So you see when you label one as the reacher the other becomes the settler. The pretty girl settled for a mediocre guy when she could’ve done better, at least look wise. The wealthy man could have dated a woman of his financial status, but Nah, he settled for someone below his potential.
The reacher in a relationship is the one who gets to date someone out of their league and, according to society, got someone of more ‘value’ than themselves. Personally, this seems like a ruthless interpretation of a very beautiful idea of love.
This is also implied when either of the partners feels a greater inclination towards the other and is more invested. So obviously, he or she will put in a greater effort to reach their partner. Not always, but the settler in these situations likely feels like they have power over the other and enjoy the attention.
Everything that a reacher is, a settler is not and vice versa. It is not very difficult to identify a reacher and a settler in a relationship. You know why? Because many a time, the couple themselves are aware of it and unconsciously portray it in their everyday activities.
After reading all this, you probably doubt all your fantasies about love. No matter what your favorite romance novels tell you, a relationship is not a 50-50 partnership. You’re bound to get wound up in this insensitive perception of a relationship and subjected to judgments and insecurities.
It really irked me how harshly both parties are addressed. It somehow makes the reacher look like a lowly pushover and the settler as someone very unapproachable and snobbish. When you’re in a relationship, there are no sides. It’s one mind, two body ideology. Love is feeling free of all the dark emotions of discrimination, envy, and hatred. Yet the settler/reacher theory has polluted the idea.
A relationship is a multi-faceted partnership. He can be the better-looking one, and you can be the funnier ones. He’s spendthrift; you’re smart with handling money. He’s a shy dater; you’re outgoing and friendly. So if we actually sit down and analyze, both have reached and settled for each other because you felt the connection.
Just because you don’t like how he keeps the toilet seat up or leaves his gym shoes beside the rack rather than ON the rack, it doesn’t make him a sinner. You need to reform your idea of the reacher vs. settler ideology.
Maybe, you need to stop seeing through this filter. You need to see how much value he adds to your life. If you keep believing you’re the settler, factors around you will only reinforce your belief, therefore, making your boyfriend feel like the settler.
How fun it would be to play on the seesaw as a kid when one would go up the other would go down, and you just couldn’t wait to go back up again. But it was a full partnership. You had to push yourself to go up simultaneously as your partner encourages you. A relationship is very much similar.
The reacher/settler theory disregards the partnership and unity in the relationship. The same concept can be phrased in a much more positive manner. There is no disgrace in being the reacher. It just shows how much of a sincere lover you are. As for the settler, why not call them an encourager instead? They encourage the reacher to be a better version of themselves.
Get to know your partner deeply because both of you, in some aspects, maybe the reacher. Be the encourager and help them climb up to your standards may be higher so that you switch roles, and now it’s your turn to let your partner encourage you.
It’s all how you view your relationship. So are you a reacher or a settler? If I had a choice, I would rather be the reacher because, honestly, I don’t see what’s terrible in loving more than you’re loved.
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