Jordan Gray says that there is a massive difference between healthy standards and being overly picky.
Are you establishing healthy boundaries about what you will or won’t accept in an intimate partner, or are you just being picky?
How do you know when your standards are coming from a place of self-respect, as opposed to a place of self-deception?
Are your standards too high?
If your friends and family tell you you’re too picky, you’ve been chronically single for years, or you’ve been in unfulfilling intimate relationships for a number of years and you can’t seem to settle on one person, then this article is for you.
So how should you examine your relationship standards critically? How do you know what is realistic to ask, and what is too much to be asking of any potential partner?
I’m going to dig past the clichéd advice of “nobody is perfect” and “you’ll just know when you find them”, and get to the heart of the matter.
Signs Your Standards Might Be Too High
1. Your “must have” list is more than ten things
If you tell people that you need a thoughtful, attentive, romantic, communicative, passionate, athletic, well-educated partner who just loves to give massages, cook and snuggle, then you might be in for a rude awakening. Sure, there are some people in the world with all those traits, but that doesn’t mean that they’re all that common (or available!). Are all of those things absolutely necessary to your love life feeling complete? Then you might need to re-evaluate.
2. One thing trips you up in the courtship phase
While there are certain deal breakers that are fairly universal (being ill-mannered, self-centred, abusive, etc.) if you find yourself emotionally checking out of a new relationship because of one small slip-up, then you might just be playing it safe.
Have you ever skipped over a potential love interest because of one small bad habit? Or because of one mildly unattractive physical element? Or one verbal misstep? Slow it down. You might be holding them to an unattainable standard.
3. You want a relationship like ___ and ___ have
Are you holding out because you want a relationship like (this celebrity and that celebrity), or (your parents), or (these movie characters)? Well guess what? You aren’t any of them. And what works for them might not work for you.
It might give you the warm and fuzzies to think about emulating another seemingly successful couple, but you have to fall in love with a person… not fall in love with a fantasy.
4. Your “must have”s are mainly physical, and not emotional
Is your “must have” list all about how your potential partner looks? Looks fade, character doesn’t.
Want to revamp your checklist? Think internal characteristics, not external features.
5. You think about their marriage potential, instead of how they make you feel
Are you weighing their “value” as a partner in your mind on your first date with them? Are you adding up a points list about their income, family background, societal stature, and number of abdominal muscles you can count? Let it go.
Intimate relationships require that you fall in love with someone’s soul. You are not entering into a business contract with this person.
How your potential partner makes you feel is vitally important. Things you told yourself that you absolutely needed might fly out the window completely when you realize that someone who isn’t your “type” makes you feel more alive than you ever would have guessed.
How To Question Your Expectations Of Your Relationship
1. Think about what YOU want, not what external influences want for you
Are you choosing your partner, or are your family, friends, society, and cultural influences choosing them for you?
Don’t be so concerned with who you “should” be partnering up with, and check in with your own emotional response to the person across from you.
2. Are you fearful of a deep, true love?
Yes, intimacy comes with a small amount of anxiety. Truly letting someone in and knowing every last part of you is nerve racking for even the most steadfast person.
Could it be possible that you’re hiding behind your standards to keep yourself out of relationships? I mean, if no one can ever meet your standards then you’ll never have to fall in love and risk being hurt.
While true intimacy is anxiety producing and often confronting, the potential pain you could experience from losing your love will be nothing compared to the low-lying anxiety you’ll feel on a daily basis by unconsciously deciding to remain single forever.
How To Counteract High Standards
1. Keep Your Must Haves To A Minimum
Simplify your expectations. Get honest with yourself. I find that if we dig deeply enough we can boil down our relationship “must have” list to three things.
Want an example? My criteria are as follows: someone who is self-aware, someone who has passions outside of our relationship, and someone who embraces my sensitive nature. That’s it. Everything outside of those three things is an awesome bonus. And those are specific to me. Maybe none of those appeal to you in the slightest, and that’s fine. We all have unique needs and emotional hot buttons.
So sit with it, and really think it over. What three things do you truly need in a partner to make your heart soar with joy?
2. Build A Happy Single Life First
One reason to cling to high standards is that we aren’t proud of our own life, so we want to self-sabotage by keeping people distanced from us. To counteract this, build a happy single life first.
Spend time with inspiring people that energize you. Make friends who are more encouraging than they are hard on you. If you replace any perfectionistic tendencies you may have with more realistic ones then that compassion that you will be extending to yourself will carry over into how you search for partners.
3. Reserve Judgment When Someone Exhibits A “Deal Breaker” Trait
There are likely a few things that you have always told yourself are absolute deal breakers for you when it comes to finding a partner for yourself.
A lot of them are probably totally legitimate (displaying dishonesty, a quick temper, or cruelty), but others… not so much. If you lose interest on a first date because your new acquaintance says one negative thing (maybe they were nervous or trying to be ironic), or forgot to clean under their finger nails, then you might need to give people a bit more of a chance.
Maybe you have things that you tell yourself are essential traits, but in reality they’re just things that you like the end result of. The missing trait need not be a deal breaker if reframed.
Do you actually need someone who is taller than you, or do you just like the end result of feeling protected?
Do you really need your partner to be university educated, or do you just value deep, stimulating conversation?
Do you really need someone with a minimum of 10 stamps in their passport, or do you simply want a partner with a sense of adventure?
Question the reasons behind your standards and you might be able to see yourself (and your future spouse) with a lot more clarity.
There Is A Huge Difference Between Settling And Being Realistic
There is a difference between searching for your ideal partner, and searching for a unicorn. Recognize your patterns, acknowledge them when they arise, and see the person across from you as they are, not as their resume suggests.
You’ve got this! I believe in you.
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