I’ve been struggling the past few weeks with my singleness and string of failed relationships. Yet again, things are off with the guy I’ve been seeing on-and-off for the past nearly four years. I’m familiar with the saying about the common denominator in all your relationships is you. So I’ve been looking back, searching for common threads among various ex-boyfriends.
I realized that for a long time, like many women, I struggled with self-esteem issues (and admit to still working on that today). I’ve chalked up some of the exes to me not being confident enough to date guys more on my level in terms of education, upbringing, career and lifestyle. That much is clear from this distance. But then I met someone I thought was out of my league. I figured it was time I aimed higher, and hey, what could I lose? If it didn’t work out, I’d just have to add one more ex-boyfriend to the list. Time to be brave and make a change.
To give a little background, we met through an online dating site and emailed/talked for a few weeks before we actually met. And when we did meet – he was everything I thought I wanted. I felt swept off my feet and was totally into him. I was so excited and happy that I’d decided to take a chance. I thought I was finally getting the guy I deserved.
But things were just not working out. He was dealing with a lot when we met – terminally ill family member, unhappy at work. So I kept making excuses for him to myself. Yet we continued to have relationship-ending arguments. And then we’d somehow make our way back to each other, after weeks or months. I convinced myself that it must be a sign that we were meant to be and just needed to figure out a way to make things work because at the end of the day, we loved each other.
However, the last breakup seemed more final. And actually, that’s just what I said to him, that this was the final goodbye. At some point, enough has to be enough. I know it takes two to make or break a relationship, so I’m not placing all the blame on either of us. We both contributed to the demise of our relationship over the years.
That brings me to the point of today’s post. I’ve been doing a lot of soul-searching the past couple of weeks. And today, something occurred to me. One of those ‘light-bulb’ moments, if you will.
I realized that maybe I’d been looking at it all wrong. We’re taught from a young age not to settle for ‘good-enough’ when it comes to choosing a partner (and many other things in life too, but I’m just talking about relationships today). I’d always understood that and knew I wanted something more, something special. But now I’m thinking maybe I actually do want ‘good-enough’ after all, just in a different sense. Meaning, not someone who just ticks off certain boxes, but someone who, in an elevated sense, is good enough for me.
I can recall stories my mother told me about how her mother told her that the man who one day would become her husband and my father was a really great guy and that she better not let him go. Thankfully, she listened to that advice. That’s what I want. Someone who treats me so well that everyone important in my life notices and thinks I’m lucky. Not because I need them to notice, but because it means that he’s treating me the way I deserve to be treated. That’s the key.
I also realized that this is what my now-ex had in me. I can recall several people either saying to him while I was standing there or him recalling the conversation to me later that I was really good for him, good to him, it was obvious from looking at me how I felt about him, etc. And I know these things were all true. I really did love him. (And I still do care for him. Things didn’t work out for us, but I still wish him well and hope that we both find the right person for us.) The way I felt about him, the way I treated him, was unlike how I’d felt or treated anyone else that I’d dated in my whole life.
But I didn’t get that in return. Looking back, in nearly four years, not once did a family member, friend or coworker say anything along the lines of, I better hold on to him, what a great guy, and so forth. Sure, I got comments that he’s really good looking, dresses great, is funny, and has huge muscles. But those are all things on the surface. Like maybe my friends were just searching for something nice to say. Maybe that was what was missing in our relationship – something deeper.
I realized I haven’t had that yet – a guy that is just really, really good to me, the way my father was to my mother, and the way some of my friends are to their spouses. And I want that. Someone who is not ‘good-enough’, but who is ‘good-enough-for-me’. Sure, I aimed higher with my last boyfriend, but not high enough. I need to dig deeper. And I plan on doing so. If the next guy doesn’t want to treat me the way I deserve to be treated, and if I don’t feel the calling to be really good to him in return, then I need to be ready to move on and continue my search. I’m not giving up hope yet!