You went to the most delicious restaurant for lunch with a friend. She went in knowing she wanted a big, beautiful salad with grilled salmon on top. She also wanted it served on a plain white plate, with a glass of sparking Perrier on the side with one wedge of lemon.
The restaurant had exactly what she wanted on the menu. You both ordered, and then waited in anticipation.
First, the sparkling water arrived. But instead of it being Perrier, it was Pellegrino. Instead of a wedge, it was a slice. You watch your friend grimace a bit, but she drinks it anyway.
When her salad was delivered, it was everything she wanted and more – so delicious and perfectly prepared. And yet, it was served on a red Fiestaware plate. Your friend took a bite and then sent it back, having lost her appetite. But as soon as she sent it back, she talked about how amazing the salad was and maybe she shouldn’t have sent it back.
I can imagine if you were sitting across the table from this reached, you would probably want to reach out and smack her, right? From where you sit, you can see that her lunch is everything she wants and more, and yet, she’s getting caught up on the tiny details that don’t really matter.
Knowing what you want vs. how it shows up
There is a distinction between knowing exactly what you want, and being open to it showing up differently than you expected. This is the difference between truly settling and having a rigid ego.
Settling occurs when we know how we want to feel and what we want to experience, and then we actively accept partners and situations where we know those things aren’t possible.
Having a rigid ego occurs when we know how we want to feel and what we want to experience, and when we are attached to it being with a certain person, on a particular timeline, in a specific way.
I will never settle again!
This topic is tricky because it’s super subtle. Frequently, I hear my clients proudly proclaiming, “I will never settle again!” I beam with pride. And then they share why. And then I cringe, because it’s the equivalent of wanting a delicious salad on a white plate only. No, no, no, no, no, no, no.
They focus on looks, status, financial stability, location, family situation, etc, and then use these as a filter for what not settling would look like.
Instead, I would suggest figuring out the answers to these questions.
- What do you want to feel in your relationship?
- Who and how do you want to be in your relationship?
- Who does your partner need to be for that to be possible?
From there, the wants and boundaries become clearer.
IF I want to feel like I am the primary object of a man’s affection,
THEN someone who wants polyamory may not be for me.
IF I want to feel like my partner is providing the structure for our life together,
THEN he needs to have his shit more together than I do. This might mean he has the ability to make things happen, get stuff done. (I could translate this into he needs a stable job with lots of income, but that’s my ego saying that I know what it should look like.)
IF I want to integrate my family with a partner,
THEN he needs to be interested in spending time with children and appreciate my role as a mama.
Can you see that these are different than strict requirements about a partner and his life situation? These characteristics could show up in a guy who’s single or not, with or without kids, and with or without a high-paying job.
If I know the underlying feelings I want and the values I align with, the possibilities have grown 10-fold, and all of a sudden, I can call out the qualities I want, rather than the external evidence of the qualities. Not only is this not settling, it will speed the process of finding a solid match, because the criteria aren’t artificial representations of what I want.
In the comments below, tell me one thing you want to feel in a relationship, and who your partner might need to be for this to happen. Do it in the IF…, THEN… format! Can’t wait to see what you come up with!