Oct 22, 2013

Are You The Reacher Or The Settler?

Are you settling in your relationship?

According to Dean C. Delis, author of The Passion Trap, every relationship has a reacher and a settler.

A reacher is the “one-down” partner who is dating someone who is somewhat out of their league. The settler is the “one-up” partner who could do better, but is choosing not to.

Masculine energy (which is quick to categorize things as cut and dry either/or scenarios) loves being able to think of things through such narrow lenses. Wouldn’t it be so much easier to be able to consider one person in a relationship as the “one-up” partner and the other as the “one-down?”

Feminine energy (which is creative, flexible, and ever-changing) sees the nuance in relationships. No pairing of people should be forever stuck in one way of being.

Men’s self-help (which The Passion Trap‘s limiting definitions falls under) often gravitates towards this overly black and white dichotomy of “this is exactly how things are, with no variation.” In chasing after certainty, subtlety and nuance gets lost.

And honestly, the idea that one partner in any given relationship will eternally be settling sounds pretty depressing.

So here’s my updated, more balanced take on the reacher/settler debate.

Attractive Woman Listening to Her Boyfriend

1. You Reach And Settle In Different Ways

Relationships are multi-faceted. One of you might feel that the other is more physically attractive. Maybe your partner brings more emotional durability to the table. Perhaps you have a lot of direction in life, and your partner benefits from this more than you benefit from hers.

Thanks to the cognitive bias of selective attention, when you decide to believe that you are “the settler” in your relationship, you will pick up feedback from your environment that will reinforce this belief. You will criticize things that your partner does to justify your feelings of superiority.

She accidentally forgets to put away the jar of mayo? It will appear that a horrible transgression has been committed. Her fumbling of a joke’s punch line will seem like the faux pas-iest of faux pas. She leaves her dirty clothes on the floor (and not in the hamper) and it will represent a personal affront to you and your awesomeness.

Get off your high horse, take a look at your relationship through clear eyes, and realize that you both bring value to each other’s lives in different ways.

2. You Take Turns In Each Role

If you are always the reacher and she is always the settler then neither of you are growing.

When you first started dating, you might have felt like you were seeing someone way out of your league. So what did you do? You chose to grow. You wanted to meet her on her level. You sorted your life out, started exercising more, started crushing it in business, and just generally became a more competent and amazing human being.

After a while, she sensed that you were growing and she didn’t want to fall behind. She was inspired by you and your drive.

So what did she do? She followed suit and continued to up the ante.

And just as easily as you could describe this as a reacher/settler swapping of roles, I would attribute this to an alternating divide of comfort and growth phases.

When you are the reacher, you are in a growth phase. You are pushing to be your absolute best.

The word settler seems poisonous to be keeping track in such a competitive frame… let’s go with encourager.

When you are an encourager, you help your partner by supporting them in their growth phase. You see how much work they are putting into their health/wealth/fulfillment and you are on the sidelines cheering as loud as you can.

The truly thriving relationship exists when you can take on both roles as a reacher and an encourager. You are both simultaneously building and advancing yourself, while encouraging your partner to grow.

3. Either Role Is Based On Individual Perspective

Whether you see yourself as the reacher or the settler can also fluctuate on a day-to-day, moment-to-moment basis.

You might both think that you’re the reacher in your relationship on your best days (“I am so lucky to be with such an amazing person”) or, during a heated argument, you might both momentarily think that you’re the settler (“She is so lucky to be with such an amazing person”).

Does The Reacher Settler Debate Have Any Merit?

I believe there is value in the reacher settler model when it forces someone to realize that they are continually dating below their potential.

Being with someone that you feel doesn’t challenge you in any way is not a relationship that is benefiting you or your partner. You will grow to resent her and she will feel like she is walking on egg shells around you. She will take care to not disturb the delicate dynamic between the two of you for fear that you will leave her.

Let her go, and find someone that you feel more appropriately challenges you in becoming the best version of you that ever lived.

Which Are You – The Reacher Or The Settler?

Beliefs are powerful things. Whichever role you assume yourself to be captaining, your environment and relationship will seem to reinforce that.

Would you rather have resentment towards your partner in assuming that you’re too good for her, or be motivated towards constant growth in assuming that you might need to level up in certain areas to match her?

The choice, as always, is yours

.

Dedicated to your success,

Jordan

Ps. This debate was also further popularized by the TV show How I Met Your Mother, so if this all sounds familiar and you haven’t read Delis’s book, this would be why.

Blog

Related

See All
The Only Thing You Need To Get Right While Talking To A Woman
Apr 28, 2014
Jordan Gray
The Only Thing You Need To Get Right While Talking To A Woman
You have been raised with the mindset that you need to play it cool in order to impress and ultimately attract a woman. And the initial appeal of this way of interacting with women makes sense. Because it helps you steer clear of vulnerability (something that you have been taught to avoid at all costs). Besides,...
Continue Reading
Half A Dozen Hacks For A Thriving Relationship
Aug 7, 2013
Jordan Gray
Half A Dozen Hacks For A Thriving Relationship
With online dating and booming big city populations changing the dating scene in a massive way, relationships are suffering. It's easy to devalue intimacy when the frictionless market of dating allows you to get out of your current relationship and into a new one within a few days. But you're not...
Continue Reading
How To Take Ownership Of Your Love Life’s Success
Feb 23, 2015
Jordan Gray
How To Take Ownership Of Your Love Life’s Success
The majority of my private coaching clients are abnormally high functioning people. They’re self-employed and loving their work, they’re in good shape, and they have relatively conquerable issues in their love life. Over the past few years I’ve noticed a specific trend in the character traits of my...
Continue Reading
Kindling vs. Coal: How To Know If Your Relationship Will Last
Feb 28, 2016
Jordan Gray
Kindling vs. Coal: How To Know If Your Relationship Will Last
I recently had a new client ask me the following question… “So, I recently met this woman. She’s amazing. She’s everything I could have ever hoped for… and yet, I’ve never been so stressed out in my entire life. I find myself analyzing every little move that she makes. Interpreting every...
Continue Reading
What Ancient Tribes Knew About Being A Man That You Don't
Jan 27, 2014
Jordan Gray
What Ancient Tribes Knew About Being A Man That You Don’t
For thousands of years of human existence in ancient cultures across the world, there have been rites of passage that made boys into men. During these rites of passage boys would overcome fear, anxiety, and death in order to shed their boy-like way of thinking and more fully mature on a mental and...
Continue Reading
How To Optimize Your Dating Profile If You’re A Catch
Jan 2, 2024
Jordan Gray
How To Optimize Your Dating Profile If You’re A Catch
Congratulations on being a catch! Now, let's make sure your online dating profile is as awesome as you are. In this guide, we'll dive into the art of crafting a profile that screams 'I'm the one you've been swiping for!' Get ready for practical tips, counter-cultural tweaks, and an appropriately finessed...
Continue Reading