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The BUST Lounge > Forums > The Mating Game
I'm appreciating the ideas, experiences, and wisdom of this thread right now, as I try to sort through the problems I'm having with my boyfriend. I feel like I could probably write for hours about my situation, but the main thing on my mind is the issue of honest, open communication. Specifically, when you're questioning whether or not you're settling for someone, do they need to know that?

My initial response would be "no, definitely not." I can imagine how hurtful it would be to hear the person I love telling me he's trying to figure out if I'm good enough for him. I would never want to inflict that hurt on someone else, especially not someone I love. The problem is, my boyfriend already realizes I'm wondering if I'm settling for him. I don't know if it's because of his perceptiveness, his insecurity, or just my failure to hide my feelings well, but he knows I wonder if he's enough for me. If he's intellectual enough, empathetic enough. Those are the two main issues--in fact, the only two issues. And he wonders if he's enough, too. He feels he's deficient in those ways, too. And he grills me about the details. He'll say things like, "Are there specific incidents or times when you feel like I'm not enough for you?" and "I don't think the issue is really whether or not I'm enough for you; it's that we both *know* I'm not enough for you and the question is whether or not that's going to be a problem." He wants to change things about himself, not just for me but for him as well.

I'm trying to sort out some of these issues on my own (Do I have unrealistic expectations? Are my standards so high as to be unfair to him? Would I ever be able to find anyone better? How important are suberb intellect and perfect empathy, anyway, when he's such an amazing guy in every other respect?)... but he always wants to talk about these things, he always wants to ask the questions that have painful answers. And sometimes he gets those answers out of me. But I never know if that's progress or if that's a big mistake.

Should I (can I) actually tell this guy who I love that sometimes I think I need someone older, wiser, who can challenge me in ways he can't? That I felt not just sadness, but a little bit of relief when I thought he was about to end things with me? That I've always felt ahead of him--not above, just ahead--and that he's always had catching up to do in terms of life experiences, learning, maturity? That I sometimes want to break up so I can get to date/know other men and see how he truly measures up? That I stay together with him not only out of love, but out of fear of losing him to someone else and never getting him back (or meeting anyone more right for me)?

I feel like those things would be terrible to hear. And moreover, they'd reinforce his insecurities, which are making him feel like shit and making us fight about dumb things (that he's touchy about because they bring up those insecurities). But he seems to think that discussing things honestly would be good for our relationship (especially since he already knows what's up, anyway) and would help him to make changes he needs and wants to make in his live. In general I do believe in honesty. But aren't there just some things that you don't say, for the other person's sake? Aren't there some times that honesty isn't the best policy? Shouldn't I just try to figure out the question of whether or not I'm settling on my own, without dragging him down in my contemplation of the issue?

Any input from people who've been here would be appreciated.

personally, i think asking for "perfect" anything is asking far too much bc honestly, i am sure he would love it if you were "perfect" in some way that you arent but nobody is perfect. i think it's wholly unfair to ask that out of anyone.

that being said, if you are unhappy with him, or dont think he is fulfilling what you need in a relationship, then get out. i think maybe what you meant by perfect is perfect for you, but i truly hope you aren't pulling the thing i see so many girls pull and expect guys to be so empathetic that they read your mind or something along those lines.

also, is your intellect superb and flawless? i am just wondering where you get these standards from.

that being said, if you arent happy in a relationship, you should never settle for anything less than what you want. i am just wondering if perhaps you want so much that you will never find it.

all this could be just what you think is wrong in the relationship or how it manifests itself and maybe you truly arent meant to be together.
Katie, thanks for the response. I want to clear up a couple things that you brought up. First and foremost, I don't fool myself into thinking that I'm perfect in any way, or that I have a flawless intellect. I know there are many people out there who are sharper than me... in fact, that's exactly who I'm looking to be with. I want someone who will constantly challenge me, instead of telling me that I constantly challenge him. As far as empathy goes... I don't know, maybe I do expect too much. I don't expect mindreading, but I just want so badly to feel like he understands, and so often when I confide in him about something I'm upset about, he's just left speechless. Confused? Afraid to say the wrong thing, I guess. (Maybe because he thinks saying the wrong thing will convince me he can't understand or empathize... damn self-fulfilling prophecy. Hm.)

You bring up a good point in saying that the real standard is whether or not I'm happy in the relationship. I feel like I *am* happy... until I start getting hung up on this stuff. I keep trying to convince myself that it's not an issue, I just don't know how to shut off that part of me that's always wanting just a little bit more out of him.
ok, i didnt think you were definitly referring to that. i completely and TOTALLY understand about not being challenged. perhaps, he isnt challenging enough for you. i broke up with my BF of 4 years bc of that reason. the only reason i REALLY figured it out that he didnt challenge me enough is bc i met someone who did. while we arent dating (god thats a whole other issue) he still challenges me and makes me realize that is exactly what i want. whether it's from him or another guy.

look, i dont think you should settle. if something keeps bugging you then it is legitimate. the only reason i was wondering a bit was bc how you phrased everything. but you cleared everything up, and if he isnt challenging in you i dont think you should settle. but i know how scary it is to have that be the only thing you dont like about the relationship. bc you always wonder if its worth breaking up with someone over that and if you arent setting yourself up for disaster. but perhaps, thats better than spending your entire life wondering about if you could have maybe found someone who fit your intellectual curiousity better. who knows. good luck though, i know it sucks i was there once!
I think you can have realistic love with romantic love. Yes I agree that there is a difference between the two, but there should be some of both. In my own relationship I find myself having that realistic love...where sometimes things are ho hum...nothing too exciting, you're comfortable with each and that is that. But I guess maybe what is different for me is that underneith all that the embers of romantic love are glowing and feuling the whole realistic love thing.

I've never felt like I was settling. I wouldn't want to imagine what that feels like. I know people who have "settled" and they regret it everyday of their lives.
great thread. I too have just grappled with the "am I settling?" question. I just got out of a relationship and I'm still wondering if my expectations were too high to stick it out, or too low and I was I just grasping at straws to keep it going. Time will tell I guess.

I would love to here more opinions from you guys who can pinpoint what is/when you knew you were settling.
It looks like my question of whether or not I should "settle" might be decided for me soon. Ever since he brought the topic up about two weeks ago, we haven't had one normal, nice, conflict-free, hurt-free day. And we're both getting exhausted from fighting so much. And he's getting sick and tired of feeling like I don't think he measures up, or don't care about him. I feel like the next time we see each other I might be getting broken up with.

So green, how do you feel so far? Is your gut feeling telling you that it was good or bad to get out of that relationship?
this question is is about "types." You know how some ppl have their types...well, mine is a sweet and pretty laid back neuvo hippie guy, u know, long hair n shit, no fuss kinda clothes, again sweetness is key...and anyway, I met that exact "type" a few months ago. Only thing is, I wonder if my pre-established "type" is causing me to want to be with him too much...there's another guy, one at work who doesnt fit this "type" but who I do like, altho to a lesser degree than hippie boy, and who likes me back. So, my question is: if I go out w/ the other guy, will I be settling?
Yeah, I only went for my "type" for a long time, and now I am reconsidering it. From age 15 to 25 I loved guys in bands. Now, I think I'm gonna steer clear of 'em. I still want to meet a guy who is creative and into music, but he also has to be responsible and realistic. I hope hes out there...
Mr. Pixie was not my "type". Not in the very least, thank the Lord. It ocurred to me that if it wasn't working out with one, why the heck would it work out with 20 other carbon copies? I wasn't his type either. But now we are married, and are glad to be rid of our old types.
pixiedust- that's cool. that's reasonable, unlike my ridiculous feelings for hippy guy! I actually was expecting the responses to be all for hippie boy, just coz I'm so enamored that I couldn't think of any reason not be his faithful follower and possibly starting a cult in his honor. I have a follow-up question, if u don't mind... in relation to you, is mr. pixie very similar or just somewhat? like, are you both devoted environmentalists or is one of you that while the other is a hard-core musician? I'm just curious coz I'm trying to figure out if I'd even be compatible w/ some of the ppl that I like...if some of my crushes make any sense to even have in the first place! Oh boy, to be 20 and so damn naive...
Frankly, Mr. Pixie is just like my ex BIL, which is the biggest reason I didn't want to dat ehim in the first place. I loved my BIL don't get me wrong, But the Star Wars, LOTR, D&D fan obcession thing is really lost on me. Thankfully, Mr. Pixie is not as hard core as a lot of those types of fans. I would say we are pretty opposite.
I like new things and new challenges, but he doesn't like change. I love to be on stage and perform. He would rather play video games. But he needed someone who could build up his self esteem and push him to accomplish his goals and I needed someone who would take care of me without trying to control me and we just "fit".
Here Here for not going for your "type"! My boyfriend certainly isn't my "type" and for a long time, I didn't even consider him romantically because of this.
I like tall pretty boys who wear skinny ties and listen to bands like Joy Division and Interpol. My boyrfiend is shortish, severely prematurely balding, into psy-trance, and is so bad at dressing himself that his entire wardrobe consists of cool clothing given to him by his sympathetic female friends.
But you know what? He's kind, interesting, smart, and treats me like a goddess. Once I stopped focusing on what I thought the perfect man for me was-- well, I found the perfect man.
is it too much to ask for a man who is financially stable? i have a house and a car and a job, and my guy has a job - but since he career hopped for so long, his savings are depleted. he's 38...i'm not....
yes p, It IS too much to as for! HAHA! Mr. Pixie makes good money and we are not doing too badly, but he has over $50k in school loans and several maxed out credit cards. Thanks God we seem to be getting a handle on the cards.
pixie - my guy does not make a lot of money, complains about it but does nothing to change the situation. he was supposed to look for another job, and he never has. it's not that he has a lot of debt, but nor does he makes it hard for us, since when the basement was remodeled, he was complaining about work but was not paying for it. hence it gets a bit tense between us.
he says he wants to work it out, of course in such a way that he won't have to move out.
our common friends are probably thinking i am a BFB. but i can't be in a relationship just because it SEEMS to be going well.
thankfully i have a meeting with a counselor on tuesday. this whole situation is really bad.
Ooh gosh, saktii! I hope I'm not supposed to be with a guy who listens to trance {{shudder}}. I'm gonna really have to get over some things if I wanna be open to meet the guy for me!
I realized at this very moment that EVERY relationship I've been in (except two) since I was 13, I settled in one way or another. I either felt sorry for the guy, and didn't know how to tell them I'm not interested in them "that" way (my usual teenage relationships). My marriage started off good, but then he decided he was bored and tried to convince me that I was Bi so he could be with other women - thinking he wasn't cheating this way. I stayed, 'cause I had children and I made a vow for better or worse- unfortunately it never got better, so I eventually left. The guy I'm with now, assumed himself in my life and I just didn't object. Although I've never been in love with him, not a day in the 5 years and two children later. I have love for him (at times) but it's not the same. Now he's in jail, and I'm stuck at home ( I'm on a disability due to having Lupus) with 4 kids and all of the responsibilities. All he can think about is how hard he has it, and am I being faithful (which I definitely am) I don't want to be with him anymore, but I'm having trouble breaking the news to him about it. I just hate confrontation, which is obvious from my past!
How do I stop settling, how can I break the cycle? I need to do this before he gets out!
Any advice? PLEASE!!!
jezabelle, you may need to see a therapist because it sounds like you've got a pattern going here. If you can't afford a therapist, it sounds like some codependent meetings might be a healthy place to start. I don't think there is a quick fix here. I can understand settling, or going out with people just because I don't know how to say, "No", but that's because our boundaries aren't intact. Boundary issues are deep and complex. Since I don't have them sometimes I just build a wall. Ask yourself several times a day, "Am I doing what I want to do, or How am I feeling" because it sounds like you might have trouble listening to your intuition. I have lots of trouble with this too.
hummingbird, thanks so much for the reply. It's much needed right now, as my friends don't seem to need me at the moment- so of course I'm not that important right now! You hit the nail RIGHT on the head, I have huge issues setting boundaries (romantically and not)and this has definitely been a pattern. To the point that I don't think I EVER want to be in another relationship AGAIN, I have four children so I'll never be alone. I know exactly whats wrong with me, I even know the factors that got me to this horrible mess I'm in. I just don't know how to fix it! My intuition is telling me that I can do this on my own with no problems, not to let him back. But when I look him in the eye I can't seem to manage to tell him to stay away. I'm not afraid of him, I just feel so guilty! And I want to do it before he gets out, 'cause my kids do not need to witness that kind of drama.
I feel like such a loser, an emotional weakling, and it's driving me crazy! I wish I could just be a bitch and tell him to F*ck off, that he's not worth the trouble. I just don't seem to be able to manage to actually do it. Can't do a Therapist, but I am looking for some meetings that might help. But if not, is there any hope for me?
jezabelle, I say, if it's too hard to look him in the eye, then you don't have to. Write him a letter, or call him on the telephone. It's sooooooo hard to know for sure whether to stay in a relationship or let go, but in your case it sounds like your getting closer and closer to the letting go part. You are not a loser, everyone has to confront their own stuff. There's a reason you have trouble with boundaries and standing up for yourself, I am sure of it. So stand up for yourself, you DESERVE it. What do you really want/need?
Good luck, it ain't easy! But you can do it!
There's an excellent phatty phat book on this subject, it's called, "Women who run with the Wolves" by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. Check it out online or at the local library. There's hope for you yet!
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