It seems like every time you share that you're dating and haven't yet found a man, you’re met with the same argument: "you’re being too picky:. Your friends, your family, and sometimes even strangers(!) will all tell you that you need to lower your standards if you ever want to find a boyfriend.
But here’s the thing: you’re not being too picky by having high standards. In fact, having high standards is one of the best things you can do for yourself in dating.
We've been taught to lower our standards
Other than people directly telling us to lower our standards, doing so has been implied for years. Go back only fifty years and you'll find that women couldn't open a bank account in their own name (this fact I discovered thanks to the Catherine Gray's wonderful book, The Unexpected Joy of Being Single). Women didn't have the independence they're privileged to have today, and their status in society relied on a man's involvement in her life to allow for social status, financial security and to prevent her being outcast as a "spinster".
Luckily, the world has moved on in those last fifty years and women have more autonomy and control over their lives more than every before (at least in the UK at the time of writing, though the recent overturning of Roe vs. Wade in America makes for a cause for concern). Whilst equality for all is still in progress, women can now open their own bank accounts, you can get a mortgage in your own name, and you expect to be treated fairly in the workplace, as equals to any other gender. The majority of a woman's life can now be lived without the need for a partner, and instead of needing to "settle" for the best available option at that moment in time, women now have the capacity to really consider what they want and prioritise the emotional skills, and personality elements of a potential partner purely over the practicalities experienced years ago.
It's okay to have high standards
Having high standards means you know what you're looking for and that you won't settle for anything less.
When you have those high standards, you’re more likely to find a partner who meets them because you won't settle for less. You don't waste time when someone isn't showing the characteristics you're looking for, or not offering the type of relationship you want.
Holding your potential relationships to the standards you expect shows the respect you have for yourself and your needs, which is an important quality to have in a relationship because it means that your partner will need to respect your needs as well. And having and executing the power to say "no" because it isn't quite the right fit, over saying "yes" just to be in some sort of relationship demonstrates that level of self-worth.
And if you settle for less, you’ll just end up in a relationship that doesn’t make you happy.
But what if my standards really are too high?
It's important to note that there is a possibility that you really could be holding yourself back from potential relationships because your standards are either so high, or there's just so many of them.
"Mr Perfect" does not exist, and it's important to learn about what really makes two people compatible; is it the way they look, is it having all the same hobbies and interests, or is it how they can communicate with you?
If you're finding that you haven't been on a date for a while or that you always seem disappointed in the dates you do have, and they don't go much further than a first date, it's worth taking stock of the things you're looking for from a relationship.
Does it really matter what job they have? Whilst a job can suggest a person's habits and beliefs around money, commitment and a lifestyle, someone may also be pursuing their passions, so which is more important to you?
Does it really matter if they have children from a previous relationship? Someone leaving a relationship that no longer works is challenging process to go through, and one that's unlikely to have happened without good reason if children are involved. This will depend on the way the separation played out, but an experience like this can be a defining moment of growth and maturity that can make dates fair well for future relationships, and we must remember, the chances of meeting single parents will only naturally increase with age.
And does it really matter than they aren't over 6ft? Just take a look at Joe Jonas and Sophie Turner! Not only is he not over 6ft, but she's taller than him without heels on too. Whilst physical attraction often needs to play a part, holding onto these elements as non-negotiables might suggest you're holding onto more superficial standards and the way things "look", rather than the hallmarks of a healthy relationship.
How to stick with your high standards in dating
Despite what you might be hearing from other people, remember that having a set of standards and expectations of what you want and need in a relationship will lead to you actually finding the partner that most suits those things.
Make sure that what you're looking for is really something you need from a relationship, and become more open to the factors that you have preferences around but could ultimately get over not having for all the other factors that support a good relationship.
Communicate about these expectations with your potential dates whether that's from the type of thing you want from a long-term relationship as well as the dynamic of the relationship. It could be communicating regularly, seeing each other once a week, being open and honest about feelings... whichever elements you're looking for should be clear to you and also to them, so if they consistently demonstrate they aren't meeting them, it's obvious why you might not continue to date them long term.
And most importantly, avoid getting disheartened having to say "goodbye" to so many potential dates. It's part of the process to date, give people a chance, find out a bit about them and eventually decide whether or not they're the right person to pursue. If people aren't meeting those standards naturally, or you can't see the compromise to develop some of them, then it's right to withdraw and keep the search going. There will be a LOT more unsuccessful attempts than the successful ones, but they'll be worth waiting it out for when you find someone that really does tick all the right boxes.
If you want the support of a community of single ladies that are navigating single life including dating, living alone and solo travel, you can join The Single Girls Club online community for discussions, zooms and live chats.
Listen to the full episode of The Single Girl's Guide to Life episode here: