Hear hear. And too many goddamned Disney movies as well, which put far too many good men into the prison of grotesquely unfair expectations just as it set up generation after generation of women who wanted the Big Day to be the beginning of happily ever after, which, as we all find out, Is LaLa land. As much as I empathize with those who have had to embrace bitter disappointment, I agree fully with Gilbert. My soul mates beat the holy shit out of my self importance, my ego, my pseudo confidence and the web of lies I developed to protect myself. Thank god they did. That’s their JOB. Call it karma, call it what you will, but the so-called soul mates formed the often deeply uncomfortable crucibles on which my character was forged. The cost was high, the benefits immeasurable. I hope I was able to return the favor to them. Having been single most of my adult life I’ve had the chance to be shaped by a number of princes- and they all were in their own way or I’d not have shared myself with them — but in all ways it was time well spent. If nothing else they taught me to appreciate a man as he is, not as some interior decorating project to be taken on at his expense, and to value the time given rather than to manipulate a commitment or make demands that are both unfair and unreasonable. Those lessons allowed me to attract increasingly good men, better partners, and those who better reflected my level of emotional maturity. I’m with one now. No guarantee of anything. Past the point where I either want or expect them. I am grateful for the time given. He’s free to come and go. He chooses to stay. Have we taken small chunks out of each other? Over 11 years, there’s been blood. All that can be said is that we are both far happier in each other’s orbits than not. I still get chills when his car crunches the gravel in my driveway. Something to be said for that. I love being alone best of all, and I truly value time with him. Is he a soul mate? Damned if I know or care. He’s taught me a great deal about both my limitations and my capacity to grow and change. Like I said I hope I return the favor. Perhaps it’s being 65 and not caring if I have a partner, perhaps it’s creating a safe space for a guy to be who he is without apology. I can’t know. What I do know is that being freed of the puerile expectations that chain us to each other and cause us to bleed when we inevitably discover each other’s imperfections has most certainly allowed for a far richer experience of partners than the ultimately hopeless search for that “perfect forever soulmate.” Again I can only address my own experience. I never wanted a man to “ take me away from all this” or make everything better. That’s my job. I’ve been supremely fortunate to have drawn to myself men who made me a better woman. I could hardly have asked for more.

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