Butterflies vs. Lead Weights

by mssinglemama on February 21, 2010

Earlier this weekend a single mom girlfriend of mine was telling me about a recent nice guy she’s dating who pampers her with dinners, gifts, nice words and kind actions but there’s something missing.

“I just don’t feel the butterflies,” she said.

And while this guy may not be a keeper, I still had to slap down some advice in hopes of breaking her in for a future of dating only nice guys, or as I like to call them – real men.

“You don’t have to feel butterflies right away. They’re like a drug, clouding your judgment. You should feel lead weights and they drop once every few weeks. They mean something, you feel calm, happy… content.”

This morning John Bear, Benjamin and I headed to Barnes & Noble. On the way in I snapped up a copy of Lori Gottlieb’s Marry Him. When I first read the article that sparked the book I wrote this blog post exploring some of her ideas. Her words had touched a few nerves but I listened and digested her thoughts wondering if I had just lost my Mr. Good Enough. In my case, Kris. Mr. Good Enough, Gottlieb argued was the guy many “picky” single women pass up on while searching for Mr. Right, Mr. Perfect 10, Mr. Knight in Shining Armor. By eliminating men because they were balding, or had a weird twitching eye – whatever – she argued we were setting ourselves up to be alone, forever.

I didn’t mind the thought of being alone forever and wrote:

Lori Gottlieb can husband shop all she wants, but this single mom is not ready for one again.

But, if I do meet someone who wants to grab my hand and pull me off of that cliff – I might reconsider. In otherwords, I may be a single mom but I still need the sparks and there’s no way I’m settling.

Now, well over one year later and 10 months into the greatest relationship I’ve ever been had, I have to say – I completely agree with her. But would I call John Bear my Mr. Good Enough? Did I settle? No way. I am still wrapped up in that warm blanket, soaking it all in – loving this and him like I never imagined. With that said, I don’t and have never felt with him the same kind of crazy butterflies and sparkage I felt with prior alpha-male, bad boys. This, I believe, is an incredibly positive thing.

I’ve already done the studly guy with the foreign accent who gives you millions upon millions of butterflies but no substance, no lead weights that drop into the pit of your stomach and knock the wind out of you. So it’s not that you’re settling for Mr. Good Enough, I think that’s the touch-point Gottlieb gets everyone riled up on – instead, it’s about choosing to settle down with a man for all of the right reasons, not the wrong ones.

I think Carrie Sloan of LemonDrop.com nailed it in her review or Marry Him!:

The thing is, the most unsettling part of the book for me was the word “settle,” because, despite the title, that’s not exactly what Gottlieb’s espousing. She’s simply suggesting you not walk in the shoes of her younger self: A very particular girl who wrote guys off indiscriminately, for all the wrong reasons, for too long. And, when you are ready to settle down, look for someone who’s going to be a good partner, rather than, say, a master sexter with bedroom eyes.

And then she added in regards to her recent marriage,

I don’t think either one of us thinks we’ve settled. It’s more that we grew up. And I think all Gottlieb’s urging you to do is use your perch on the bar to scan the room for nice guys you might otherwise overlook — because you might find they grow on you when the time comes not to settle, but to settle down.

After I put her book down I took a seat on the floor by the train table at Barnes and Noble and watched as John Bear tossed a giggling Benjamin up and down in the air. The nicest guy in the world who happens to be earning his way deeper and deeper into my heart, one lead weight at a time.

Forget the butterflies. Seriously. Butterflies are for teenagers.

Back up reading (old posts I’ve written on all of this):

Do you still believe in the one? I certainly hope not.
My Must Have Man List
Did I lose my Mr. Good Enough?
That Couple

{ 3 trackbacks }

Never say never
April 11, 2010 at 10:13 pm
Hello again
May 18, 2010 at 1:49 pm
Tisk. Tisk.
May 24, 2010 at 10:38 pm

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

MommaSunshine February 21, 2010 at 4:22 pm

Here’s the thing, though — I don’t think that butterflies and a man of substance are at opposite ends of the spectrum. I’m not saying that it’s the case EVERY time, but it *is* possible to have both. It’s been more than a year now, and CBG *still* gives me butterflies when we’re together…and he has proven himself, over and over again, to be a man of substance.

I think that it’s up to every woman to decide what her own personal priorities are. After having both in the same man – butterflies AND substance – I know that I’m not willing to settle for less than that in any future relationships, should this one not work out. And you know what? I’m willing to be alone for the rest of my life for it.


arscuore February 21, 2010 at 6:17 pm

I’m tending to agree with MommaSunshine… I’m falling hard for this new man, and he is a good, good man who does give me butterflies. I don’t think they’re mutually exclusive. On the other hand, I was attracted first to his kindness, which probably wouldn’t have been the first thing to turn my head when I was younger. We each take away from every relationship the bits and pieces we know we’ll need from our next. And one of the most exciting things about this new relationship is that it is an adult relationship, as opposed to an adolescent (I’ll-take-care-of-you-if-you-take-care-of-me) relationship.


mssinglemama February 21, 2010 at 6:22 pm

Just want to clarify – I do have butterflies with John, they are just entirely new and different. I can’t compare my feelings for him to any I have ever had for another man – and all of my past “loves” involved a heavy amount of butterflies at the beginning.

In her book, Gottlieb is just trying to encourage women not to throw a man out if there aren’t major butterflies on the first few dates. On John and I’s first date – there were not a major amount of butterflies, he was wearing a hoodie (I tease him about this all of the time)! And we didn’t even know it was a date.


MommaSunshine February 22, 2010 at 3:48 am

When CBG and I went on our first date, it felt like the most natural thing in the world. No major butterflies, I guess, but definitely LOTS of chemistry.


arscuore February 22, 2010 at 2:20 pm

Gotcha! I’ve always had butterflies with this guy, but of course, I crushed on him for a good year-and-a-half first, too!


Chenk February 4, 2015 at 3:29 am

Ah, they make me smile every time I see that picture. Thank you once again for your gneirosety. I have been cutting like a mad woman all week getting ready for the new term. xx


Leslie February 21, 2010 at 6:22 pm

You need both, and you can have both. Anything less is settling. I’ve been through it enough on both sides, and it proves true every time. You can try to ignore it, but it will eventually catch up to you and when it does, it can breed unfortunate emotions such as regret and even resentment. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but I’m afraid it’s true.


Older (but not single) Mama February 21, 2010 at 11:17 pm

I’m a much older, married mom who has been reading your blog for a year. This post has inspired me to barge in to offer a view from someone who met “the perfect man” over thirty years ago.
What made him perfect was just what you described, Alaina. From the day I met him I had a “peaceful, easy feeling”..(that’s a lyric from a song of the era).
When you are fortunate enough to connect with another person at that level there is never any question of nerves because the person is just there.
There is no magic formula to meeting that person. From my perspective the first step is to find a person who you can talk with (and laugh with).


Lucy February 3, 2015 at 12:46 am

I have 2 RR600’s both series 1 by the full red “rotring” lreitetng followed by the lead size. My first one purchased in 1991 has a different grip section to the one I received today (New Old Stock). My 1991 grip section has an exposed copper coloured spring which butts up against a small white collar at the jaws. My 2nd one has a white plastic sheath instead of the spring. Both pencils are without the metal lead tube of more recent offerings from Japan. Question to Rotring 600 experts – is there more than one version of the RR600 series 1??? – my two seem to indicate so. Thanks2 1/2p


Pippi February 22, 2010 at 7:11 am

Older (but not single) Mama, I have the same exact feelings about the man I am with now..peaceful and easy. After a marriage of hard and unhappy, it’s a welcome change.


3girlsandaboy February 22, 2010 at 9:07 am

I couldn’t agree with you more. Maybe it’s the single momma 10 month mark…i am so head over heels, but in a calm, content way. I do get butterflies when I see him, but not like the butterflies I had with “boys” who I knew would be gone in a moment’s notice. Love is so lovely…:)


Hanna February 22, 2010 at 9:10 am

I read that article too, 3 years ago- right after I became a single mom, my mother gave me the New Yorker(?) article and wanted to get my opinion. I agreed with many parts and disagreed with much of it too. I’m curious about the book now, but I don’t know if I want to be faced with that concept of “settling”. I’m just barely testing the waters of dating as a single mom and I’m afraid anything harsher than “you can do it” will make me give up completely.

Another book I just finished that gave some interesting perspective on marriage and skepticism on “finding someone” is the sequel to Eat, Pray, Love- Committed. You should check it out. I would be curious to know your thoughts on it.

Rock on Single Mom!


Roxanne February 22, 2010 at 3:24 pm

I totally get what you mean about the lead weights. Those are the ones that hit you on some random Tuesday afternoon, when you realize, “oh crap, I’m falling for this guy, because he’s friggin’ fantastic!” I think there are different kinds of butterflies, just being excited to see him and spend time with him reminds me of the butterflies sometimes, but I don’t think it’s the same thing as being “young and in love” and all spastic. We’re older now, we know what we want, there’s no game-play involved. It’s either real, or it isn’t. We don’t have time for anything else.


Megan February 22, 2010 at 8:58 pm

I was a single mom when I met my husband. I had been married to one of those “bad boys”. Totally hot, all the girls wanted him kind of guy. He left me and our daughter when she was three months old.
My husband and I met on a blind date, but spoke on the phone a couple of times before we met. The second time I talked to him, I heard an “ouch” on the other end… he had just poked himself with a sewing needle, because he was trying to FIX HIS DAUGHTER’S PANTS! I won’t say I was hooked then and there, but I was totally impressed. So, when I met him, and he was nice looking and kind, but not the totally hot, bad boy type, I was relieved and intrigued. After that first date, we were practically inseparable. He has since adopted my daughter and we have had our own children. His daughter lives with us, too. This is the greatest love of my life, and he totally gives me butterflies, because he has learned how to love me, not because he looked like Brad Pitt, or had the cool moves, or anything like that. Which, I think is Alaina’s point, right?


Bobbi Janay February 22, 2010 at 9:23 pm

I understand what you are trying to say and it makes me so happy for you.


michelle February 22, 2010 at 9:28 pm

Hey I just checked out your blog for the first time tonight, and I love it.. been a single mom for 2 years, and it can get lonely- so it was inspiring to hear about you and the other hot mamma’s who’ve got it together. Thanks! And I agree about lead weights vs. butterflies. Cheers!


Laura February 23, 2010 at 6:49 am

When I first read Gottlieb’s article I agreed with it (it was an article before the book). When I met my husband I was the same way you explained. I wasn’t sitting by the phone. I wasn’t freaking out at every word or gesture. I was comfortable, happy and patient. Other people wondered why I wasn’t jumping up and down and I just kept explaining that it was because this was real. I still remember the day I knew I would be with him forever. That lead weight dropped and I thought, “I want this man in my life.” It’s been 8 years and we have a great marriage. Now I watch my newly single girlfriend go out on dates and drop guys for the strangest reasons. I keep saying, “Give him a chance. Get to know him. Who cares that his hair is brown and not blond!”


Dawn February 24, 2010 at 5:55 am

I just read Gottlieb’s book and I related to it so much. When I first met the man I am seeing, something was there-but it was not “butterflies”. We dated for 5 months, broke up for 2 months (my choice) then went out for dinner one night. It was then that it hit me- he isn’t a bad boy, but a really nice guy. We have been together for 5 months and I get excited to see him every time. I dated the gorgeous guy-left me for another woman, dated the biker (we all need one) and he was a “hot mess”. I definitely agree- lead weights over butterflies! Butterflies are for little girls who have not had enough life experience yet.


april p. February 25, 2010 at 6:45 am

I am so glad you posted about this subject. I’m not a single mom, but I am divorced and now…. FINALLY… in the best relationship in my life. I completely agree with your post. The “initial butterflies” left me in the middle of a hopeless and excruciating marriage and ultimately… a divorce. However, my current relationship has me feeling butterflies left and right, a year into it. I’m not saying we weren’t a good match from the beginning, i was just choosing smarter. I guess you could say- I grew up.

Three years after my divorce, I wrote a little ‘what to expect when you’re divorcing’ guide for my friends that were just going through it, and this is what i wrote on this exact topic:
“Frequently in recent days I burst into spontaneous bouts of tears when the simplest acts of love, patience, selflessness are shown to me. It’s in the packing my overnight bag for my business trip the next day when I’m already asleep on the couch. It’s the picking up dinner when I had a bad day. It’s the rubbing my feet as I type this, while we spend a nice quiet evening watching Mad Men.
It might take awhile to open your heart to loving again. You’ll be stepping carefully along the way. The right person will give you the space and time to make sure your feet are planted firmly and will acknowledge your fears head on. When you need to talk, this person will say “When and where?”. One day, you’ll wake up and accept that you deserve this, and you won’t look back.”


april p. February 25, 2010 at 6:46 am

p.s. I also HIGHLY recommend Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert. It’s not a quick read with tons of exciting highs and lows, but if you’re truly interested in ‘making peace with marriage’ and marrying again, I’d buy this book and consider it part of your homework.


nic February 25, 2010 at 9:51 pm

i love your blog, i found it about a month ago at a very low point…i too am staying with my mother and raising my 2 year old daughter, while i go through a highly confusing and painful divorce. it’s almost been a year now, and there are times when i’m not sure this part will ever end! i wonder if i will ever have a normal social life again, meet a healthy, loving man and have a healthy, loving relationship. your blog gives me hope that this will happen one day. so thank you for writing about it, because honestly, there isn’t much out there on this subject!


Gustavo February 4, 2015 at 5:49 am

I turned on an eposide of Martha Steward the other day, just because it was about Singapore. I saw that all buildings need to have a garden area. Also, something about a botanical garden. Obviously I wasn’t paying much attention. I was all, Aw, no wonder Michelle loves it so much. []


nic February 25, 2010 at 9:59 pm

oh, and this segment about butterflies vs lead weights is an interesting subject…after many relationships that started out with a rush of butterflies, but didn’t go anywhere, i purposely went for a nice guy who didn’t give me that rush of excitement every time i saw him. there were times though i felt like i was hit with a load of bricks when he would do something so genuine, so kind. i went about this so rationally that i forgot to notice that we didn’t have a lot of romantic chemistry, nor were we that compatible!
i’m not sure how i should feel when i meet the next could be the one guy –


jlh February 27, 2010 at 8:52 am

I was just watching a hallmark movie…where i hear this line…”sometimes love is not fireworks…sometimes love comes softly…”
Another thing…, one I remember reading somewhere, is that those “butterflies” often are misconstrued. Sometimes, those feelings of butterflies are anxiety over these “bad boys” …is he going to call? those feelings when the phone rings ..before we see who it is .. is it him?
I was always a firm believer in the butterflies, my excuse …”but i don’t feel the butterflies with so and so”
I do not agree with settling, at all.
But I do believe in giving everyone a chance, there DOES, ABSOLUTELY HAS to be a chemistry, a spark, sometimes that takes time to develop
and it hits you out of nowhere sometimes


Christina March 4, 2010 at 2:05 am

This post came along just when I needed it. I 4mths into a relationship with a “real man.” I’ve always loved the butterflies, that anxiousness and anxiety, and there is none with him. It’s because there is no question with him, I’m never worried if he will answer my call, or show up when he says he will. It’s a nice change, but I was starting to think of the lack of butterflies as a lack of chemistry.
Well a lead weight just dropped a few days ago. I was doing my hair and I could hear him in the next room singing ABC’s with my 2 year old. I thought “He loves me, he loves my son, what more can I ask for?”
I needed this slap in the face that fairytale romances don’t exist. It’s not all rainbows and butterflies like in the movies. I have a good thing in front of me and I would be foolish to pass it up for someone who comes along and knocks me off my feet. Right now my feet are firmly planted on the ground… as they should be. I’ve never been in a healthier, happier relationship in my life. 🙂


Leave a Comment