I wasn't sure who posted about settling and I didn't have time to sift through all of Andrew's posts to find it again, but my point was/is that is something you just have to look out for. G, I do NOT think you are settling for M and I'm sorry if my comments implied that. I think the two of you just have some fundamental differences in how you deal with others and emotions. M is likely less demonstrative and touchy feely than you (which tends to be typical of men anyway) where you are one to reach out. Your exchange this morning shows that. I am sorry he didn't respond in the way you needed him to, but I'm not sure he is able to do that, at least right now. I would imagine, based on things you have told us, that he is just too wrapped up in all his baby mama drama to see much farther than himself at this point.
Now, having said all of that, if you are still coming back here in say, 5 years, and you are still having the same issues, at that point, I would say that is settling. I don't think people fundamentally change WHO they are, but in this case, I don't think it is so much about WHO M is as his responses and attitudes are more about all the crap on his plate. And, you are right, you come across as a very strong, very put together, very "I got this" kind of woman and I wonder on occasion if that might not be a tad intimidating to M and he doesn't even realize that it is. I'm speculating, of course, since I don't know either of you.
I think you and M have something nice going. I don't think either of you are settling. I just think you handle things differently and like you said above, you have to learn to accept those things just as he has to learn to accept things about you. Sparky and I have some similar issues. I don't vent to Sparky a lot, but when I do, I need something that validates and comforts me. Sparky's go to response is "bummer, dudette" or "that [censored]" and then changing the subject. Yeah, I need more. We've talked about it and we are kind of at an understanding now that when I'm reaching out in a way that I require something more than bummer dudette, I just preface whatever I say with something like "I really need a hug" or something that lets him know that I'm feeling particularly in need of more support in that moment.
As far as counseling, I'm sure you have checked it out, but in my previous job, our insurance offered a thing called the employee assistance program which offered us access to counseling to help with different issues. I used it when I went through my divorce and it was amazing. I truly wouldn't have gotten through all that as well as I did without my counselor. I have actually had access to this same thing with 2 different employers, though both were state-based agencies so that may be where the similarity comes in. Anyway, like I said, I'm sure you have checked and I don't know if this is even a thing where you work, but it is worth looking into. In both cases when I had it, the insurance company paired me with a trained, licensed counselor in my area and set up the first appointment, then I set up the subsequent ones and I was even allowed to take my XH the first time around when I went through it (my issues then were related to his medical trauma) and they offered to allow me to bring our daughters as well, though none of them ever wanted to go. I do recall the last time I went through it, my insurance would only pay for like 10 sessions, but the counselor told me if I needed more she would work it out with me. I didn't even use all 10. Anyway, sorry for rambling and hijacking your page, but it is certainly worth checking on. You need to take care of yourself!!!!!!!
Me 50, H52 Divorce from XH final 12/17/2014 Marriage #2 12/31/2019 5 adult (step)daughters (3 from XH's first marriage, 2 from current H's previous relationships) 4 grandkids (plus 2 on the way)