We all know how annoying it is when a well-meaning, (annoying), and probably coupled-up friend offers us this amazing piece of dating advice as to why we're single... and it always has something too do with us being too picky.
So if you're wondering whether it's true, if your standards are TOO high which are keeping you from finding the relationship that you desire, I've got five questions that you can ask yourself that will help you get to the bottom of this.
Read along so that you can decide on your own time whether you have standards in the right place for your dating life, or whether your expectations are too high to possibly be met.
Question 1: Do you bring to the table all the qualities that you would love to have in a partner?
Now, of course, we could all sit there and describe our perfect partner. He would be the dreamiest, most awesome person ever. Tall, athletic, with loads of money in the bank, somewhat famous, really good looking, demigod with a graduate degree from an Ivy League university.
But, if we have this set of standards for people, we are, in fact, just describing a super awesome person rather than someone who will actually connect with us. So it’s really valuable to assess whether those expectations are realistic. You can do this by thinking about what you bring to the table instead of seeking qualities in a partner you haven't worked them out in yourself yet.
Go back to the drawing board, work on yourself so that you have those qualities: security, intelligence, confidence... whatever it is that you'd like to bring
Question 2: Are all the things on your list superficial?
Watch out if your current dating criteria is very superficial: it's about age, height, ethnicity, education level, and it's about the financial means that a person has. Whilst these things do have some bearing on your compatibility, they're not as fundamental as how you connect as people. So you might want to check up on that list.
Maybe, before you hit that list of qualities, you want to think about interpersonally; how you relate to someone. Even if you want someone who's got a million pounds in the bank, that doesn't equal a happy relationship, and a relationship where you will be loved, safe and secure.
Question 3: Can you go for something that is GOOD ENOUGH?
Now, I know a lot of people are gonna disagree with me when I say this: we're not the good enough generation, we are the `I can have it all’ generation. However, when it comes to people, and dating, life is full of imperfections. He is not perfect, you're not perfect, your relationship will not be perfect.
Looking for perfection and never settling will keep us from having the intimacy and the closeness that we desire. There are going to be things that you disagree on. There are going to be things that you wish were slightly different about them. But that doesn't mean that the relationship is broken.
Sometimes it's good to accept that good enough is good enough in some areas of the relationship. Concentrate on this instead of expecting perfection, which might not be realistic.
(If you want more advice on settling, read this blog on whether you should settle or not.)
Question 4: Are you only focusing on minor flaws?
Here are some examples of some minor flaws. Are you very focused on:
- their complexion?
- the fact that they don't wear the right kind of shoes on a date?
- the fact they've got one friend that you just don't get along with?
Sometimes you can focus on a small imperfection, and then lose perspective on everything. Instead of going for perfection as yourself: Is it good enough?
Don't focus on minor flaws. Shift your focus to all the positive qualities someone can bring to a relationship.
Question 5: Do I ever get far enough into my relationships to work out if someone's compatible with me or not?
Can you find yourself in this? Every time you date someone it only lasts a couple of months before you find a fault with them. And this fault is so bad that you have to exit the relationship.
This may be a sign that you've actually become hyper vigilant; and rather than doing a good job of filtering people and upholding your standards and boundaries, which is of course, very important for successful dating, you may have gone too far in that direction. You have got to the point where you simply eliminate everyone.
Hyper vigilance can come from a place where we feel our boundaries have constantly been disrespected in the past. This can definitely create a feeling of being hyper sensitive as to how someone is being around us.
It can come from a space of feeling uncomfortable to get closer to someone. For many, the honeymoon phase at the beginning of a romance feels more comfortable than being in the everyday "the good enough is good enough" phase.
However, this phase inevitably becomes part of relationships as they mature and develop.
So is there something about the honeymoon phase that you're addicted to? Is there a way that you can learn to love relationships as they mature as well?
Now, I know it might not feel that way. But I promise you, settling and compromise aren't dirty words in the air of relationships, they don't mean that you don't have any standards. It doesn't mean that you don't have any self esteem. But it could mean that you have a realistic and healthy view of how relationships function in the real world. It can mean that you accept your limitations and your imperfections as much as you do your partners. And that isn't a bad thing. That's a beautiful, very human thing.
When it comes to being too picky, I want to encourage you to maintain your standards. I want you to see yourself as someone who has high standards. Just make sure that those standards are absolutely focused in the right place to ensure you're choosing a great partner, rather than letting potentially great partners pass you by.
P.S. I've recently contributed to Independent's article on compassionate vs passionate love. I highly recommend you read it!