There is a fine line between wanting perfection and wanting someone perfect for you. Just like there is a fine line between settling and accepting flaws in another person.
Someone who wants perfection is looking for a guy who never messes up (beaning late or forgets your b-day) or is always romantic and says the right things. He’s rich and good looking and a hard worker, but always has time for you. He is very masculine, but talks about his feelings like he’s your girlfriend. For people like that, there is an element of “settling”. But when these people settle, they are never *really* happy/content (to your core happy/content) with that person. They kinda have a sense of, I guess this is good enough. It’s kinda like going to a good restaurant and really wanting the bacon cheeseburger with onion rings (nothing fancy (or perfect), just what you really wanted. But they run out of bacon and onion rings (so they give you fries) and they put mustard (which you hate) on it and you have to scrape it off. You’ll eat it, you’ll get full, it’s good enough, but not what really satisfys you.
When you find the perfect person for you, their flaws mesh with your flaws. Have you ever had a good bacon cheeseburger and gone somewhere else and had an OMG amazing bacon cheeseburger? Same ingredients, but something about the bread and quality of meat is just so much better? Sometimes it’s messier, and you accept that. And you get fries instead of onion rings, but OMG they are just awesome fries and you dont miss the onion rings.
You know when you are with the right person when you can walk into a room and think, “I’m the luckiest girl in this room” but you also don’t have a sinking feeling like you aren’t good enough for him, because he feels the same way about you. You feel so lucky because you just fit so well together. No one else in that room would fit with you in the same way. You feel content and things are relatively easy.
But the real question you are asking is–how will I know? You date lots of people, some for a short time (one date) some for longer. You find out what is important to you and what isnt. And you get a feel afterward–like wow, while I was in it I didn’t feel like I had to suck in my stomach or hold my breath or shave a piece of me off, but once they are gone, you realize how much of yourself you changed in largeand small ways that over time is exhausting. When you find the right person you have to accomodate and negoiate with them to find out what works, but the effort is easy. (I can’t leave my mess all over the place now, but DH doesn’t expect me to suddenly be a neat freak)
You know you are settling when you are hoping something better comes along, or you dont accept them for 100% who they are (you are hoping that they change) or you make excuses for them or you try to fix them or you are just exhausted or scared so you say they are good enough.
You will find the right person and just because it wasn’t right this time, doesn’t mean you cant ever find it. And when you do find that right person for you, you will be able to see all the ways that ex-fi was wrong for you.