As I approach 37 I have many friends who are very worried about my single status. No matter how much I assure them I am ok with it, and they should be also, some have taken to giving me advice like that fact that I should lower my expectations and standards. Despite me explaining that I am not looking for Mr Perfect, just Mr Perfect for me, apparently I am asking for too much. Well, I’m not asking for too much and I am going to explain why.
As I have moved through life I have learnt so much from every relationship and every experience. I have discovered so much about myself and what I need in both a relationship and a partner. At 22 I married my high school sweetheart, so when I found myself single at 25 I realised I had never been a single adult. I had started going out with my husband when I was 15. I had no idea about dating, so after a few disastrous dates I met a man that I fell totally and completely in love with. Unfortunately though, because of my naivety I ignored some major red flags and ended up in an incredibly abusive relationship. It was a horrific relationship, with a truly terrible person but what I learnt from that relationship didn’t just teach me some lessons; it changed who I was for the better. Among the lessons was just how strong I was, what sort of red flags I needed to look for, and to listen to my gut when it’s telling me that something is wrong. If there is a part of you screaming that something isn’t right, it’s probably not, even if that very charming man is smiling at you trying to explain everything away.
Since those 2 relationships ended I have been in love once. He and I loved each other very much, but it was a toxic relationship and it needed to end. I have discovered that despite dating various people over the years I very rarely feel ‘that’ feeling. I have dated really good people. They have been smart, funny, caring, lovely people but that hasn’t meant they are a good fit for me.
I am aware that I am a strong personality and I do have a very strong sense of self. Over the years I have figured out what I need. I need to be in an interdependent relationship. A relationship where my partner and I can be so incredibly happy and content together, but we can also go off happily and do our own thing and then come back together. I can’t stand having someone on top of me all the time. I need space to do my own thing, to catch up with friends, to write, to just be. I’m not a jealous person. If I don’t trust the person I’m in a relationship with, we shouldn’t be together. I expect the same trust in return. I am a woman of integrity and my word is everything. The main thing though, is that a relationship should be able to develop naturally. If you have to force it or if it’s difficult from the outset, it’s never going to get easier
How have I become so clear on what I need? Well I have dated all sorts of people. I have dated people that are hard work from the outset, and it just doesn’t work. The beginning of a relationship is when things are meant to be heady and special, that’s what sets you up to be able to weather the tougher times. I have dated men who resented me catching up with my friends. That right there sets off warning bells for me. To me a partner that has no friends in their lives and doesn’t want any in yours is seeking a very insular relationship. That’s not for me! I have dated a man that did not like any form of physical contact apart from in the bedroom. We dated for a number of months, and he tried to be more forthcoming with the physical affection and I in turn tried to lower my expectations, unfortunately the gap was just too wide for us to bridge. He and I are still friends, which I am grateful for, as he is the smartest man I have ever met and I love talking to him.
If your libidos aren’t closely matched in the beginning, they never will be. Hoping that your partner will suddenly want more sex is setting yourself up for disappointment. If someone is pushing you in to a relationship you aren’t comfortable with, you’re never going to be comfortable with it. When the guy you’re dating announces he’s staying an extra night, and all you want is for him to leave because you need some alone time, it’s a sign.
With all of that said about what I don’t want I can list what I do want. I need someone intelligent that I can talk and laugh with. I need to have some common interests with them. We need to have that chemistry and that spark that you can’t really articulate why it’s there, but it just is. It’s not all about how they look or whether they have a six pack. There absolutely needs to be a physical attraction, but that doesn’t always translate to the ‘hottest person’ in the room. Beauty truly does come from within.
Over the years I have been single I have never felt lonely. There have been nights that I have thought it would be so nice to have someone there to cuddle up to, but that’s where that need to be in a relationship ends. I have built an incredible life full of amazing friends and an ever-evolving career that I love and am so passionate about. I’m pretty lucky! So many of my girlfriends have told me they’ll be devastated the day I settle down and my disatrous dating stories come to an end.
I’m sure that as much as I have an opinion about these guys I have dated, they all have an opinion about me. Some would speak highly of me, some maybe not; maybe I was way too much for others. Most of the guys I have been on dates with have been really great men, but if I settled in to a relationship with them, I would be unhappy and probably in turn make them incredibly unhappy. That’s no way for any person to live.
In those single years of mine I have watched a number of friends (both males and females) settle in relationships they’re not really that happy in because they are so scared they won’t find anyone else. I have had discussions with some of these people when they were trying to get pregnant, and when I challenged them about not being happy and suggested they wait a year or two and maybe wait for their perfect person because once they bring a child in to this world, they will be tied to that person forever. They have acknowledged that it’s not an ideal situation, but they want a child and they want it now before it’s too late. Some of those couples are together and making a go of it. Others have split and since moved on and found other partners. Some of those break ups have been horrible and involved kids being moved all over Australia and these people hating each other.
While no relationship comes with a guarantee, I want to give any relationship I end up in the very best chance of making it. I am lucky enough to have been in an incredibly loving relationship when I was young, so I know that incredible feeling you get when you love someone with every fibre of your being. I have the benefit of dating a range of different people, and learning so much about myself in the process. Even appearing on The Bachelor taught me some lessons about myself, and what I need in a partner.
I know very quickly on a date whether or not I am attracted to someone, and then the next hurdle is the kiss. That first kiss will tell you everything you need to know about your physical connection with that person. That first kiss has gotten a couple of people a second date and it’s also killed any possibility of a second date for one or two people. The one time I didn’t listen to my instincts about the kiss, I persisted with dating that guy, and it ended badly. He didn’t fully understand why I was ending it and all I could say was that I wasn’t feeling what I should have been at that moment in time. The reality of it was, I knew the first time he kissed me, but I had hoped it would get better as we got to know each other a bit better. It obviously never did.
After having been single for so long I did start wondering if it was me that was the problem. Maybe I had been on my own for too long and was not willing to compromise enough to allow someone else in to my life. Then in to my life walked this man. He was amazing. From the second we met we talked as if we had known each other forever and were completely comfortable with one another. It all just worked. The next few weeks were a happy, giddy blur filled with so much joy and excitement. When he stayed with me, we were completely at ease with each other and in each other’s space. Sadly, it ended almost as quickly as it began.
What that brief love affair showed me though, was everything I need in a man does exist. I don’t need to settle for something less than.
The other statement that people will make to someone my age and single is that time is running out for me to have children… Do I want children? Yes, I would like them, but only with the right person. I don’t want children so badly I’m prepared to have them with anyone that is kind of sort of what I need. I would rather wait for that man that is perfect for me and have an amazing life even if that means it’s child free. So no, I will never lower my expectations and nor should I be told to. When the time is right, our paths will cross.