One of the things that used to put the big-time fear into me was ‘settling’. No way was I gonna find myself with some ‘nice guy’ that bored the bejaysus out of me. I wanted love and what I was used to looking for and feeling. This meant that they had to be:
- Tall (had to be over 5ft 10 as my father is short so on some level I felt in order for a man to be available and take care of me, they had to eclipse me in height.)
- Good looking but not too good looking (just in case he’d think that I wasn’t good enough for him) or he could be ‘quirky looking’ (to ensure that he felt as if he’d snapped up a great woman and wouldn’t leave, because I figured it was only what’s on the surface that they’d like me for anyway).
- Intelligent because, well, my mum had been banging on about my father’s super intelligence and his “wasted potential” for as long as I can remember (no childish chatter for me when I was a kid!).
- Employed in a good job because, “Natalie, you need a man for security. When I was your age, my boyfriends bought me TVs and jewellery”. Nuff said.
- Funny. Good sense of humour because I figured if a guy can make you laugh then they must be doing something right. That same sense of humour meant that my needs were later deflected with sarcasm and they’d combine the humour with intelligence to be passive aggressive and play mind games.
- A bit mysterious (read: giving off unavailable vibe). My stomach had to do the leap of ‘excitement’ (butterflies) triggered by attracting a guy who would be hard to pin down emotionally. If he was ‘too keen’ (read: decent, unambiguous, not trying to get into my pants, not blowing hot and cold and basically not maintaining a decent enough ratio of interest and messing me about in some way), I was out.
The deal was, I had to go from feeling in control to sufficiently insecure and anxious to feel that it was dramatic enough to tick the boxes of what I felt was love and a relationship. No matter the ‘highs’, the net result was unhappiness. Note also that there’s nothing in my above criteria about character and direction (their values).
I was afraid of settling but actually, settling happens one of two ways:
1) When you sell yourself short by going, “Ah feck it. The relationship musical chairs is coming to an end so I’ll say yes to whoever will have me”, or “Some crumbs is better than no crumbs and I’m too afraid to start over and go for what I really want and need”, or “All the good/men women are gone. It’s too late now”–you get the gist.
2) When you’re in a pattern of relationship insanity where you’re carrying the same baggage, beliefs and behaviours, going out with same person different package, and expecting different results. It’s when you choose based on the pattern of programming not actual values, your preferences for how you want to live. You settle for the familiar uncomfortable and effectively keep you small.
So yes: if you’re going out with Mr/Miss Unavailable, that is settling. Emotional unavailability is settling for low/no intimacy and limited commitment, for you and for them. Whether you settle for less with someone who dicks you around or someone who is ‘nice’, you’re settling for less than what you need, want and deserve.
You settle sometimes without realising it because the relationship feels like ‘home’ so you don’t know any different, or because you’ve been so busy blaming you or something or someone else, that you’ve not understood what has been behind some of your relationship decisions. You might not be aware of why certain preferences are your preferences. You impose a glass ceiling on you.
I think sometimes, in fact very often when we are in the loop-the-loop of our pattern, we think that the ‘chemistry’ that we experience in our painful relationships is something that we could experience in a less painful one, but that resonance we have, that strong attraction, is largely coming from the chaos and pain of those relationships. We don’t realise where we’re being triggered or that we seek out certain things because we have unresolved wounds to heal.
If who you’ve felt the most ‘chemistry’ with is in unavailable and what might be very painful relationships, a lot of what you feel is pain, fear, and familiarity. If you’re willing to take the time to know you, to look behind your attraction, and to make sure that you’re doing your due diligence in the early stages of the relationship, you will not subscribe to remaining in your pattern because you’re pursuing growth and you want to create a present and future that’s different to your past.
Loving relationships have chemistry and calm.
Calm does not mean that you’re not interested or that they’re boring; it just means that you’re not afraid, partly because you’re more personally secure (hopefully) but also because you’re not in a power struggle and/or trying to reclaim your dignity so that you can feel as if the drama has been “worth it”. You’re also not going out with a parental (or bully) replacement.
It is OK for you to like what you like but when there’s a recurring theme or something feels like a sticking point for you, it’s critical to the examine why you like what you like and that you don’t pursue it to the exclusion of shared values and mutual love, care, trust and respect. It’s not about you being ‘wrong’; it’s about choosing a partner without unnecessary blind spots and also taking responsibility for the type of relationship you want to co-create.
There’s no point in chasing a level of chemistry that interferes with your happiness and the ability for you both to have a mutually fulfilling relationship. You want to love and be loved, not be high.
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