Soulmates, calm, and whether settling = giving up

I haven’t written about this much but it’s running through my head almost constantly. Admittedly less this past week than previous, but it’s still there some days.

I feel I don’t have the words to clearly articulate what I want to say about Fox. I’ve tried verbally with friends and it comes out wrong and awkward. I will say “but he’s so… nice.” And rightfully they say “and what’s wrong with that, Ann?”

There’s nothing wrong. I’ve said before that this relationship feels different, and it’s not in any way to suggest different is bad. Quite the opposite. I’m not keen on repeating past experiences with men which left me feeling empty and desperate for crumbs of attention.

At the core of it, I’m struggling to figure out which characteristics of a partner I must have to be happy and interested in the long term, and which are those I may want but ultimately aren’t critical.

And then, as I start to think these thoughts, another one takes over – why should I compromise anything on what I want? And if I do compromise, am I giving up?

Then the next thought is: am I giving up because I’m tired of all the bullshit I’ve been through in the last year and am simply dazzled by the sparkly object which is how well Fox treats me?

And then I think – no, he’s not like the other men I’ve dated who put the world at my feet. They haven’t all been like Tony. Way back when, the Giant wanted me to be his girlfriend and was lovely to me. Johnny Id treated me very well. There were other men I didn’t date for long who I know adored me.

So it’s not about Fox giving me that glass of water after being in a desert. Others have offered and I have declined.

He is special. I like him as well as how he makes me feel.

So then why do I feel slightly unsettled?

And that my friends is how my brain cycles through these thoughts and leaves me tired.

Lots with Fox is very, very right.

He does lots of great things for me. He’s communicative. He accepts me for who I am. He’s a committed father. He makes cupcakes from scratch. He cooks for me. He’s tall and handsome. He’s willing to do lots of different things with me. He has a high sex drive. He knows about my sex drive and adventures and while it makes him worry he’s not going to be able to be / do all the things I want, he doesn’t shy away from trying. He’s a kind and thoughtful friend. He listens. He does romantic things. He has a good job. He gets along with his family.

That’s a pretty long list. I’m sure there’s stuff I’m forgetting.

So when I think of the things I’m less fond of, they seem minor in comparison:

We have good chemistry but it’s not the best I’ve ever experienced. While he takes direction and feedback well, his touch and kisses don’t hit a bulls-eye. We have no problem spending a day together and chatting, but he doesn’t have the quick wit rapid-fire banter I really enjoy. He doesn’t make me laugh hysterically. He believes in personal growth and stretching boundaries, but is also very content. He says he’s a simple man. He’s a type-B.

My Mom broke up with my Dad after YEARS of cheating that started when she was pregnant with me.  She decided the most important characteristic in her next partner was honesty.

Not a big surprise.

My step-father is not who I would choose for her. One reason is he doesn’t have the humor or intelligence she and I share (or my Dad, for that matter). I asked my Mom about it once and she concurred, but also said it wasn’t her primary focus. She said gets those witty conversations from others.

I guess she ascribes to the belief that you don’t have to get everything from one person.

Is this settling for less than greatness? Or is it a practical and appropriate approach?

It runs counter to how I’m wired in so many other life venues. I have a visceral negative reaction to Fox saying he’s “just a regular guy”. I loathe the thought of being regular or average.

I loathe the thought of saying “oh, he’s just fine”.

But obviously he’s way more than fine. He’s not perfect, but who is? How do I know if he’s perfect for me?

One friend asks if I can see myself across a table from him having dinner for the next 30 years. Would those perceived shortcomings bother me?

Then I think about it another way. I was married to Type A, quick witted, great banter, not content for a moment with what he had. And that relationship wasn’t for me – so that alone doesn’t do it.

I dated crazy intense chemistry and lots of laughter. And that relationship wasn’t for me either.

But what I definitely need are those things that Fox gives me. Without those, I’m miserable. He meets the criteria I wrote about ages ago about what I wanted and how I want to be treated.

Do I actually believe those memes that say you feel calm when you meet the right person for you? Can I reduce my relationship decisions to some trite Facebook post?

So where does all this leave me? This post feels as roundabout as the circular thoughts. I can’t even write a conclusion because then it all starts again.

Suffice it to say –

Scratch that. I can’t even write that.

60 thoughts on “Soulmates, calm, and whether settling = giving up

  1. Anne what if you tried not to overthink this and just enjoy each others company. I over think and it gets me into trouble. This relationship may last or it may not. Right now things are pretty good. Enjoy being the center of Foxs attention. No need to make big decisions yet. 💋

    • Thanks Caroline. I’m actually trying to not overthink it, but I suppose given how serious we’re getting I also want to make sure there isn’t some gut feeling I’m not listening to.

      This is new territory for me. I just don’t want to make a mistake.

      • I’ll comment here before I forget… About that gut feeling you’re afraid of not listening to? Take a few days away. Retreat from it all over a weekend. No work, no child, no parents, and most importantly no Fox, just you and your thoughts. Listen when you’re away. Search your heart. Do you miss him? If yes, you’ve got your answer. Do you think of the things that you enjoy with him, or are the first things that come to mind those things that bother you?

        I’m no expert though… just the thoughts that came up to mind reading your post and these comments…

        • It’s not so much a gut feeling that something is wrong and I’m burying it. I do think it’s simply that this feels so different. Definitely there are some things I wish were different – and they are important but as I wrote, I’d rather not have those things then have a repeat of some old patterns.

          It’s just so lovely and easy to be with him.

  2. Fox is Fox. He’s blazing his own relationship pathway with you and you are balancing the Fox ways against prior experiences and the criteria in your head and your heart. This is still dating, getting to know one another, and there are bound to be missteps and mistakes made on both sides along the way. Right now, right this minute, are you happy in the relationship? You’re not the same woman you were when your marriage ended, so why would you think you want the same sort of man as your former spouse? Fox is different than other men you have dated and been with and maybe this too will end someday. But what if it doesn’t? What if it gets better? Maybe you are listening so hard for alarm bells you are not hearing the quiet that comes with satisfaction and contentment. This new territory may surprise you in the nicest possible ways, Ann; I am hopeful your big, bodacious brain can perhaps accept that at this moment, all is well and it does not need to remain on high alert 24/7.

    • These are great points Janelle; thank you. If I had written this three weeks ago the noise would have been a lot louder. I’ve been able to still the thinking somewhat.

      I am happy right now. I like being with him, I like who he is, he makes my life better. I also need to accept him for exactly who he is – and since he doesn’t have a few of those qualities, I need to have peace with that. I truly don’t think I’m settling, but it’s hard for me to resolve that it my head.

      • There is not looming deadline to resolve anything in your head, so perhaps your brain just needs time to absorb the new reality that is Fox. I’m really glad you’re happy having him in your life and that you feel cherished by him.

        • Thanks Janelle. I do just need some time to get used to this – it’s so different and so amazing. And there’s no deadline but I want to be careful about the fact we are getting so serious and spending time with each other’s child, for example.

  3. omg, I recognize that hula hooped frenzy thinking – a friend used to tell me I was taking a subject, chewing it up and getting it all knotted and stuck in my hair. I juggle thoughts just like you’re doing with similar thoughts of me missing something. BUT, thinking about them at the same time that I’m going through them makes me feel unsettled and decisions become sticky for me. I think you’re quicker on your feet than me. That said, if I were you, I’d be wondering when my thinking will start winding down from doubting or questioning this relationship that on paper is what I wanted. When will my thinking be more settled and balanced to that comfortable knowing weight? I think you are just asking these questions because you WILL question those things. It’s in your nature but answers don’t care about your questions. Time is what you need to be fair to your own process of discernment. I’m only guessing from that over-thinkers perspective. You could easily begin to avalanche any future with Fox if you keep hula hooping it all. That circling can start tornados. Let things be. You don’t need to know anything more than what you do now. Revelations about you and Fox can rise up with clarity and surprise you if you just stand back. It’s hard but trust me, you can be stunned sometimes with the results that you just allow to happen instead of engineering with reasoning and your own historical data. What the hell, coast a while – a long while. I know that sounds like you’re doing nothing but trust me – it’s not. I think that relates to you thinking you’re settling somehow. I think you’re just trying to come to conclusions too early. This isn’t what you’re used to doing so you aren’t comfortable. Why would you be? I may have over thought and given 4 cents instead of just 2. xo, J

    • I think you may have given me a whole dollar!!

      What is this thing called coast? It’s funny, at this point in time after I met my ex, he’d already broken my heart and we’d gotten back together and I’d forever changed.

      Not knowing more than I do now is uncomfortable – as you can well understand.

      I’m often good at seeing / predicting where things will end. I don’t know that with Fox but it’s mainly because I don’t see an end with him. Which scares the shit out of me and makes me super content at the same time.

      I’m so glad you understand that logic circle because it’s so frustrating sometimes!! And I know not everybody breaks things down this way…


      • “Coast” Well, I’ve heard lovely tales of this ease of being…it might be a fairy tale though. This ‘thinking” we do has been an awesome tool but I have to get ahead of it to dodge it’s slings and arrows. I have to tell you that only in the last 2 or 3 years have I purposely gagged that thinking and bit my tongue and tied my own hands – you know, just for shits and giggles. I’ve been happily surprised at outcomes. It’s a strange feeling for sure but I’m taken aback by results. Perhaps that is trusting that things will be as they’re meant to? I know, it sounds like bull, right?! haha All I have to add is , Whatever you do, don’t run because you’re scared.. You can take it.and beyond the fear is where you have to get to to reap the benefits. It’s emotional BDSM, only you’re Master and slave.

  4. Reading this… I so get it!
    And then, I remember that book I wrote about, on why some people tend to overthink, people with a fear of loss that comes from so far back that they don’t remember ever being any different.
    I have been through a similar pattern of: “but surely, he can’t like me, and he’s not the man for me” over the past 7+ months. And every time, either I manage to sort through my thoughts by writing about them, or he does something, a very simple thing, not any sort of grand romantic gesture (not his style), that makes me shift my whole outlook on our relationship. And that’s when I remember that this relationship may not be long term, but it’s exactly what I need right now. And after the 20+ years spent not listening to my gut feeling, I tend o over correct.
    But those 20+ years also taught me that I cannot know whether a relationship will be for life. So I shouldn’t think too far ahead, and just enjoy what I get when I get it. And I know that I am now a different person and will know, if at any point it isn’t enough for me any more, to *do* something about it. Communicate about it first, then leave the relationship if needs be.

    I think you are at that point too, Ann, where you are able to pick up and leave (or kick him out) if at any time you feel the relationship isn’t what you are looking for any more.

    So enjoy what is happening right now, and don’t try to look too far ahead in the future. No one is talking about wedding plans, are they?

    Not sure I make sense, as usual. But know you’re not alone over thinking it. I’s who we are. Doesn’t mean we need to worry every minute of every day, because this may just end up pushing the good ones away :-/

  5. I think it’s telling that after reading this I had to go back and look for the specific things you said weren’t ideal about Fox. I think that’s because all the wonderful qualities you mentioned seem to make up a pretty complete package. At least from my perspective. I’m a type A and I’ve been with a type B for almost 5 years now (including the year of our affair)–and sometimes his contentment with the status quo drives me crazy, but I’ve learned to let it go because he brings so many wonderful things to my life. We had amazing chemistry and now it has settled down to a slow burn, but still the best sex of my life, just less than I would like. He is very funny and it has helped me to become a funnier person over time. I guess my point is that once you ascertain that there are no deal-breakers in the relationship, you have to see how things evolve over time (i.e, he may learn how to make you laugh more). I think what impresses me the most about Fox is that he’s a real grown up in every way. I think because of that, he has the potential to be a true partner to you, if you decide that’s what you want. Again, if there are no deal breakers, then make sure you are fully enjoying this and not letting over-analyzing get in the way.

    • He is a real grown up and it’s amazing. And different. To your point, nothing is a deal breaker and I’ve had those characteristics before and it didn’t guarantee relationship success – by a long shot.

      I am doing a decent job of not overthinking – I do feel some pressure to make sure I’m not burying any concerns. Because we are getting quite serious and integrating into each other’s lives and I don’t want to do that lightly.

  6. Ride it out literally and figuratively to see where it goes. There’s no deadline for a decision, so why try to force it? At some point you’ll decide he’s everything you need or he’s not. You’re very analytical and you sound like you get a little analysis paralysis sometimes.

  7. This post hits home right about now. I am not surprised by this between you and Fox as all because I am so similar to you.
    I have been tossing over and over and over the word “average” in my mind for days. My x was average. Bobby was not. I am certain I can no longer be content with average.
    I also talked with my friends at work about the characteristics that drive someone to be “more than average” against someone happy being content with where they are.
    You are not a content person. Neither am I. I think no matter how many other check boxes you hit, without the bright lights and sparkle of an over achiever type A, we will always wonder are we settling? I am not saying we are, I just don’t think the nagging thought will ever go away.
    And, if it doesn’t go away, will we ever truly allow ourselves to accept something different?
    I know for me this is a great big struggle. I read it in your words too. I wish I had advice for you as you so kindly and often give to me. Great big words of wisdom.
    Just know I’m here with you. Xxxx

    • Honestly Madeline it depends on what / how you define “average”. My ex wasn’t average from a career perspective (and neither am I). But he and Tony and others have been sorely lacking in lots of other ways.

      So Fox excels in so many things – communication, interest, words of encouragement, dedication, etc etc. He’s extraordinary in how he treats me.

      And he isn’t settling for average when it comes to being a boyfriend. Or a human. Which is amazing. He’s spent years taking steps to be better and believes in constant growth, which is one thing I really love about him.

      It really is only in the work arena where he’s fine to not be trying to be CEO. He’s content. He has made choices to be a better and more available father, for one. I’d rather have that kind of man than one who chose to live in a different country for 8 months – my ex.

      I suppose I really am comfortable with an over achiever from a relationship perspective. I’ve had too many bad experiences and believe I can continue to make different decisions that will end up with me in a much better place.

      • I am merely repeating words you used in your post. To me “average/simple/just fine/less than greatness/good (not great) all come down in the same funnel of interpretation.
        I think Fox is awesome. He seems like an amazing man with stellar qualities…but you are the one writing about not being bowled over starry eyed jumping up and down with giddiness in love. You are in a content/practical/good enough space and trying to decide if this is the right space for you or not – so I responding to those statements. Only you can decide if the slow burn of chemistry can equal the bright fires you have previously experienced that haven’t worked out for you.
        I read somewhere that we have been raised to accept compromise, but we must learn the ability to know when the compromise is good or bad for us. It seems you are questioning if Fox’s strongest characteristics are “good enough” for you against the ones he may be lacking….that’s how I take your post above. Are you compromising with Fox? It seems that this post is questioning that, but your comment swings you back to the reasons to choose the compromise. Only you can know and I am just watching through the window.

        • I’m not in a practical “is this good enough” place. I am completely bowled over by the calm feelings and depth of feelings I have for him – it’s a “still waters run deep” kind of thing. From everything I have seen and read, infatuation isn’t a good place to start. Even my therapist said those kinds of relationships can happen with narcissists, because of how they treat you at first, which has also been my experience.

          The circular argument in my post is really me processing a relationship and man who is so different. Extraordinary in his own way.

          • I like the reference to still waters run deep – but I just want to say it’s not how I interpreted your post.

  8. Is it even reasonable to expect ONE person to be able to deliver EVERYTHING you need? That’s a terrible burden for any one being to have to live up to. I think your mom makes a good point – why not get what you need from a whole rainbow of people? Just allow a select few (or one) to your innermost circle because they provide the more important needs. I just feel like if you keep expecting one guy to be able to deliver everything you think you need, you’ll be rejecting relationships till the day you die.

    I keep getting advice to “live in the moment” – because I have a tendency to want to have a plan for every contingency. It’s very liberating to be able to say “fuck it, I’ll deal with things as they come up”. Obviously this doesn’t apply to all situations, but it does help me stopped getting all wrapped around the axle on ‘what if’ possibilities.

    • I learned with my ex that he couldn’t provide a lot. I don’t inherently expect someone to meet all my needs, I suppose, but it’s more that a couple of Fox’s characteristics are the ones I always said I have to have in a partner. I don’t think it’s the case, though. Or at least that’s what I’m working through.

      I don’t have any gut feelings that give me pause. In fact I can see things continuing with him for a long time. But I don’t want to get ahead of myself either way.

  9. I see a lot these days in the modern dating world how people constantly confuse preferences with dealbreakers. So many people can’t even discern the difference anymore, and that leads to so much angst and denial of great things that could have been but never were.

    As Dan Savage says, there is no “the one”. There is no settling down without some settling for. No two people are 100% sexually, emotionally and personally compatible. And everyone has a price of admission. This 5 minute clip really put it all into perspective for me a long time ago:

    All of this is to say, with Fox you need to determine whether the things that you find are lacking are preferences or dealbreakers, and if you see the potential for these things to improve with time. It sounds like some of them already are. As to the others, only time will tell.

    • It’s a great point, Josh. The intellectual / humor stuff had always been on my “must have” list in a partner. That’s what’s causing me the thinking. And I’ve come to the probable realization that it’s not actually a must have.

      Fox is pretty awesome to me and he makes me feel great. I like him as a human and we are both committed to moving life and love forward. Which is perhaps the most important thing.

  10. My mind does the same exact thing. I was married to steady, even keel, low maintenance. It wasn’t enough for me personally. I need the passion and excitement and fun. But then I wonder, can someone that passionate and fun, be serious when the time is right?

    I wish you luck figuring it out. Just want you to be happy, no matter how you get there. xoxo

    • Fox is passionate and committed to ensuring my physical needs are met. Which is amazing. And honestly, when I think about Tony, with whom I had insane chemistry…what good was that when he couldn’t be the boyfriend I needed?

      It’s a mind shift for me, but I can see that all the incredible things Fox is / does should far outweigh whether he and I have the same sense of humor. Right?

      • The logical side of me says “yes”. The woman who does everything based on passion and chemistry and sometimes with reckless abandon, isn’t so quick to say “yes”. I’m such a romantic, that I want to find it all wrapped up in one person. The older I get, the harder it is getting to hold on to that hope.

        As long as you are happy, truly happy, then it doesn’t matter if he laughs at the same things you laugh at. He sounds like he treats you amazing. xoxo

  11. I feel sorry for you Ann. Not sorry in a pity way, but sorry in “your in a tough place”.

    Can you answer this, because I know you just said it recently…Are you “IN LOVE” with him or do love him as a person(as in the idea of who he is)?

    • Thanks Fred, but you don’t need to feel sorry for me! I don’t consider this to be a really tough place. Just something I am working through because a couple of things I thought were must-have’s probably aren’t.

      And yes, he’s an awesome person as well as someone who makes me feel good.

    • as someone very familiar with overthinking, I don’t think I am, actually. I’m trying to be respectful of us getting more serious and am also reflecting on the characteristics I thought I had to have in a partner.

      But I do take your point!

  12. I have to comment on the idea of finding one person who “checks off every box”…you won’t find him. I discussed this at length with my therapist last spring. Her advice was to figure out which boxes were most important in the long run and go from there. There will never be a man or relationship that checks off every box and is perfect. The boxes that are left empty, can you fulfill them in other ways? Seems like that has been what your mother has been successful with..and you can too!

    My therapist gave me an article that talks about the evolution of relationships and how we have become a society that expects our partner to fulfill us in every way and meet all our emotional needs. Back in the day relationships were for providing financial security, providing children etc but women would have their friends for all the emotional stuff. Now we are financially self sufficient, don’t need a relationship for children but we put a lot of weight on our partners to create and maintain our happiness. We want all the boxes checked and feel like we are “settling” without every need being met.

    I’m not sure where I am going with just found the article thought provoking.

    I like Fox and I think he is good for you. I think you need to just stop thinking about it and just be in the moment. Enjoy what you have with him and don’t think about whether this is for now or forever, just enjoy.

    • It’s great advice Sassy and I completely understand where you were going with that. I actually have learned through my split that I need to rely on friends and family for support – I don’t want to be in a situation where I am left empty after a relationship. I completely hear you. Thank you. xo

  13. Ann, overthinking this can leave you susceptible to doubting. If there was a gut feeling you had about Fox, you would have experienced it somewhere by now. That lack of genuine doubt; faults in his character or personality appears to be an uneasy situation for you. He is not perfect. Neither is anyone else.

    No human is stationary apart from our soul mate we are different. When we are with them, they are like a mirror, reflecting the best features and sometimes revealing our own flaws. We simply decide to accept who we (our soul mate and us) are and enjoy what we have while growing closer throughout our relationship.

      • Hi!

        Your gut is your best barometer. Your head listens to all the reasoning and rationale, risks and rewards and other logical assessments. In the realm of love, passion, compassion, understanding, etc., the head is the wrong organ to take the lead role in assessment.

        Gut (a.k.a. the deep recesses of the heart) is the single most telling place. If there is an uneasy feeling and your head is telling you to ignore it…WRONG! Stop immediately! The opposite holds true. Your gut is right. Go with it.

  14. You paraphrased your mom as saying “I guess she ascribes to the belief that you don’t have to get everything from one person.”

    I’m reminded of something V related that her mom said years ago, before I even met her. “You want intellectual stimulation? Join a book club. Find a man who rocks your world in bed first”

    Maybe your mom and my MIL are cut from the same cloth 🙂

  15. I’ve wondered the same thing, and wondered what it was worth to go after someone who is better than the “good” I have. So far I’ve stuck with “good” but I think about it all the time. For most of my life I didn’t even know that a relationship could be better, so I was content. I learned that there was more out there, and I am no longer content. You’ve got enough experience to know what makes you happy, and what doesn’t. My therapist and some friends have told me it’s a matter of expectations and choosing to be happy or not. There is some truth to that, but then those people aren’t inside your head and living your life.

    Another way to think about it…I’m ambitious, have very high standards and am very critical. I’m very rarely satisfied and an am always reaching for the best. I like that part of me, but it leaves me restless, which makes me work hard and strive, but also gives me no peace. I have come to realize that the striving and angst really come from something inside of me that isn’t satisfied with me. NOTHING and NO ONE will ever entirely satisfy me, because I’m not satisfied with myself. I need to fix that feeling in my own soul if I want to quiet the restlessness…I’m just not sure that I want to quiet that voice. Perhaps you have the same issue, or maybe you just have high standards. Your call.

    I have no real advice other than to say you’d know if he was “the one” or not. If he’s not, enjoy him while he’s in your life and until you can find the one. Life is short.

    • Thank you so much for this. I can relate to what you describe and over the years I’ve done better at being still and accepting less than perfection. It’s been important to my happiness.

  16. Your mom is right. The person you date or marry or whatever shouldn’t be your end all and be all. There are traits that they won’t have. And you’re not compromising by staying with that person. You pick the things that are most important and find everything else (in a non romantic way) from others. Expecting your SO to be everything you want/need will only end in disappointment and fighting.

What do you think?