I’ve come across a lot of people with cynical ideas about relationships.
Many of these people suffered abuse and neglect, or have been cheated on. While you can never blame the victim for these incidents, one thing I noticed most of them had in common is that they never had very high standards to begin with.
In virtually every instance, the partners they chose had mental issues, a history of promiscuity, a tendency towards unfaithfulness, and abused drugs.
“Well, didn’t you know that at the time you met them?” I would ask.
Surprisingly, many of them said, “Yes.” Others found out a few months into the relationship and decided to stay.
I couldn’t help thinking to myself, “Well what did you expect?”
High Standards Won’t Always Save You
Now don’t get me wrong – I am well aware that bad things can happen to good people, but even good people don’t always have high standards. And even people with high standards can become fooled by seasoned players.
In fact, I once dated a cheater. Though I was suspicious of the man I had no proof, so like a good woman I decided not to confront him based on mere ‘feelings’ and ‘intuition’.
Three months into our relationship, he made a pass at a woman via an online dating account I didn’t even know he had. He had no idea that the woman he was flirting with was my co-worker, running partner, and former college-mate.
When I presented him with the evidence, he confessed that he had cheated on “99 percent” of his exes, but insisted that he had never cheated on me. Yes, his use of the dating app was dishonest, but it was all harmless flirting and he meant nothing by it. So he claimed, anyway.
But I knew that I deserved honesty and faithfulness in a relationship and would accept nothing less. So in spite of all his other amazing qualities, I left him and never looked back. I wasn’t going to wait around to see how long I would remain in the elite 1 percent of girlfriends he was ‘faithful’ to.
Thus, high standards won’t save you from all likelihood of being hurt, but when you realize that your partner does not meet your most important criteria, leave.
In my first year of college we had a class called ‘college skills’, which was basically a life hack class for young adults. We learned everything from job hunting to how to ensure your black clothes don’t fade from frequent washing.
One of the things we were encouraged to do in this class was to write down what we were looking for in a partner. Our lecturer emphasized that we should not put down frivolous things like cars and money, but real needs which would contribute to lifelong happiness.
Not only did I create a detailed list for the assignment, but I kept it and improved it as I grew older. And not only did I get more picky, but I actually held people to these standards. I made sure every guy I dated filled out more and more of those things on the list – whether it was pertinent or petty.
Some of my more important requirements covered everything from how he treated me when I was sick, to not having any suspicious connections with old exes. My more petty requirements included things like having a beard, and being a brunet.
When I shared my criteria with other people they told me I had ‘unrealistic’ expectations of a man. And every time they said that I smiled to myself and shook my head. Why?
Because I had met men all my life who did meet my standards. Some I only kept as friends, and a few, led to relationships.
Yet the very people who questioned my standards had far more unrealistic expectations, themselves. These were often people dating bipolar women and expecting emotional stability, or who had ‘stolen’ a man from another woman and expected faithfulness. This begs the obvious question:
Which one of us really has unrealistic expectations from our partners?
One of the virtues that served me best in my young adult years was patience. I had periods of being single for years at a time, while I dated and waited for someone who met my standards to come along.
One friend asked me how I did it. He said that after six months, his standards would have plummeted to a new low to make room for someone else to waltz into his life – good or bad.
The answer is simple:
Know what you’re worth, and in turn, what your standards are.
Are you truly at a place in your life where you are most suitable for your ideal partner? If the answer is no, then identify what is lacking and spend some time working on yourself. It’s hard to hold others to high standards when we feel inadequate.
But if the answer is yes, then don’t allow yourself to fall into relationships with people who cannot provide you with your relationship needs, out of loneliness or a desire for sexual intimacy.
In order to make space for the better and best things in life, you must first remove the mediocre place holders preventing them from moving in.