We’re going to have a quick but needed conversation today around setting standards, and it all starts with this question…
“Are my standards too high?”
I’ve been hearing this conversation everywhere lately. It comes up on social media, it comes up on podcasts…even my clients have asked me about this before.
I actually don’t believe this question is what we need to be asking ourselves. I believe this is a distraction from what we actually need to interrogate when it comes to setting standards, because if you really think about it, what constitutes a high standard? What standard of measurement are we using to determine what is or isn’t a high standard?
A standard is just a standard. It’s something that you’ve chosen to stand behind. It’s just you taking a stand and saying, “This is what I’m about. This is what I’m available for.” That’s all the idea of setting standards actually is.
Unfortunately, a lot of people are setting standards that actually have nothing to do with what they truly desire to experience in a relationship…and have everything to do with pride and entitlement.
I’m willing to bet that there’s this part of you that knows, “Wait…I’m setting standards that aren’t actually in alignment with what’s important to me in the context of a relationship. I’m just saying this thing because there’s a part of me that wants to look a certain way.”
People think that if they have a person who has certain qualities or has a certain identity or trait, it will make them look a certain way in front of their friends, in front of their family, in front of other people.
Or, if we’re being really honest, setting standards this way could even be a thing of entitlement. “Because I am this, I feel I should have this.”
Let’s just use a level of education as an example. Let’s say you have a graduate degree, and because of that, you think, “I should be with somebody who has a graduate degree. I’m not going to ‘settle’ for someone with anything lower than that.”
I really do not like the word “settle,” by the way. I don’t even think “settling” is a real thing. Is dating someone who doesn’t have a graduate degree actually “settling?” I don’t believe it is, and not only that, but I firmly believe this line of thinking isn’t actually supportive to you in dating. Instead, it actually has everything to do with entitlement.
If I said, “Okay, you have a graduate degree, so you feel by virtue of you having a graduate degree, you should automatically have somebody else who has a graduate degree. What does this actually have to do with a healthy, successful relationship?” you might tell me, “I just want it to be equal,” or, “Well, I want to be with somebody I can have intellectual conversations with,” or, “I want to be with someone who’s financially stable or a high earner.”
Now, none of these things are bad. Setting standards like this isn’t bad; these are great things to desire. However, by believing a certain level of education equals someone being financially stable, you’re actually linking things together that might not actually be linked together for everyone. You’re setting standards based on the idea that someone having a certain education level equals being financially stable, but that isn’t necessarily true.
Let me explain. Someone can have a graduate degree and be financially unstable. Someone can have a graduate degree and have a shit ton of loans. (Not that it’s a bad thing. I’m just trying to add more elements to the picture.)
They could be terrible with their credit. They could have a really low credit score. And in the same breath, you could find someone who never went to college, but is still wildly successful through another path; maybe a job that’s different than you imagined or something you’ve never even heard of. They might even have their own business.
Someone you go on a date with could be well-versed in a lot of topics and incredibly intellectual, yet they may have never stepped foot in a university.
This is a case where setting standards that are “high” might actually play at a disadvantage to you, because if you’re not actually clear on what really matters to you, you might end up setting standards that sound good in theory, but actually have narrowed your dating pool significantly.
You’ve most likely sifted out people who are wildly successful. You’ve most likely sifted out people who are intellectual. You’ve most likely sifted out a lot of people who are financially stable, all because you’re not actually clear on the standard that actually matters to you.
Instead, you’ve gone about this by saying, “How will this make me look in front of my friends or in front of my family? What would they think if I’m with a guy who has this job title?”
Meanwhile, they could be wildly successful, emotionally available, someone that really makes you happy, but you might miss it because you’re setting standards that are not corresponding to what’s truly important for you in a relationship.
This is not a conversation about lowering standards, either. I’ve heard people wondering if they need to “lower” their standards, too. Again, I think this whole conversation is a distraction from what’s really important to consider, which is…are you actually clear on what’s important for you in the context of a relationship? Or are you unconsciously utilizing standards to have the entitled side of you come out and play?
Notice if you’re honed in on these things that will make you look a certain way or somebody who “looks good on paper” when setting standards. You might find that they check all the boxes, but you don’t actually feel connected to that person emotionally, because you actually didn’t take a look at what truly matters to you relationship-wise.
I’m not trying to say that desiring someone who’s financially stable isn’t something to pay attention to. That’s not what I’m saying at all. For me, when I was dating, it was important for me to find somebody who was financially stable, who could have deep conversations, who had an expansive mindset around money, and I did find those things, but here’s the deal: I didn’t box myself into how that could actually show up.
A lot of people box themselves into how that could actually show up, such as the graduate degree example, and they end up narrowing their dating pool down far too much. You don’t want to narrow your dating pool in a way that’s sabotaging you.
What you really want to be doing is getting clear on the standards that are actually supportive to what you’re looking for dating-wise and relationship-wise, so that you’re opening up your dating pool to the people that actually match what you’re looking for.
Be sure to connect with me more on Instagram @theselflovefix. I’d love to hear what you thought of this post and what your major takeaways were.
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