Sometimes I think I was one in a million. I was raised by a father who was loving, kind, wise, and a true protector. And he encouraged me to be who I actually was, not who he wanted me to be. He allowed me to fail when I needed to so that I could also pick myself up and start over.
He did this all while watching me as I grew up, always letting me know he was on the sidelines cheering me on and also there if the fall was so bad I needed help getting up. I never received a judgment on any of my failures growing up. Even in the failure of my marriage.
I think I have measured most of the men in my life, including my former husband as assuming they were made of that kind of stuff too. How disappointed I was when I found out that they weren’t. I have had to step back and realize that it may have been too tall of an order for any man to even come close to the kind of man my father was.
Are Your Expectations High Enough?
I have been a divorced woman for many years. I have had a few relationships in the past twenty or so years. But no one has met my expectations. I had many people tell me that my standards were too high. “No one will ever be your dad”, they would say. But then I realized that it wasn’t because my standards have been too high, it was because my standards have been too low. And maybe, just maybe that is why my marriage broke up and why I haven’t met anyone who I feel could actually be “the one”.
I am now at a place in my life where my standards are where they should be. After all, my father never cheated on his wife. But my husband did. And what I have learned about myself is two things.
Being the Heavy Lifter
First, I never again want to be the entire support structure of a relationship. In my marriage and relationships following divorce, I was the one who always put someone else’s feelings and needs in front of my own. I was always the heavy lifter in my relationships. Receiving very little support back. To that, I now say, “Screw that!”
I now see how utterly blind I have been. I never for one minute exercised the standards of care that I saw in my own parents’ relationship in my marriage. And I took that ridiculous behavior into the next relationships I found myself in. Never again!
I now have expectations and standards that are just decent, loving, and kind. In other words, if it’s too hard to be all of those things to me then shove off! And if I never meet someone who I find to be all of those things and more, then I am better off being the independent woman I am who is just fine on her own.
I Complete Myself
Second, I have found out that even though I want a healthy, happy, and secure relationship, I know that a man cannot be the end all be all to my so-called completion. If I can’t be responsible for completing myself, I have no right to ask someone else to be that for me. Why in the world would anyone even want that? I don’t want to be responsible for completing anyone either.
That would put me right back into the heavy lifting spot I was in before. I cringe when I see married people having one on Facebook. Dave Mary Smith with one picture, like they cannot even try to be two people with two different lives. What I found out is that if you take on that responsibility again and help complete the person you are in a relationship with, you sacrifice your own completion. It’s not your job to make anyone whole.
I am a true believer that you have to listen to your gut at all times. I have always been a woman with strong intuition. I have also been a great suppressor of that intuition and gut feeling. On every occasion that I have done that, I have regretted it. I am sure that where I am today as a divorced woman who raised two children alone is a direct result of my suppressing my gut feelings when I had inclinations that my husband was not faithful.
On the morning of my wedding day, I was sick to my stomach. I assumed it was just my nerves about the big wedding day. But my gut was telling me something else. Maybe it was because I was about to be married to someone I wasn’t all that sure about. Maybe my gut was telling me that this was not the standard of a man that I should be hitching my wagon to.
The conclusion to all of these thoughts is that believing in yourself, your gut, and your expectations of being with a man who is already whole in his own right is the right way to go. In my opinion, there is nothing more attractive than a man who knows who he is and who doesn’t require you to be his definition. That’s not what a relationship is for. It’s a two-way highway of gives and takes. Days that are good and days that are not. But in the end, they still make you happier being together than apart. How lovely that seems to me! And that’s what my standards and expectations are now!