Keep Your Standards High and Your Expectations Reasonable
“Are you dating anyone?” “Kind of! I mean, we just started talking on Tinder a few days ago, but we really connect on a level that I haven’t really found with anyone else. I can see a real future with them.”
We have all either said these words or know someone who has said them. What’s the typical end result here? You end up disappointed because you went in with your expectations too high, or you imagine the whole story before it’s even begun. For example: you start talking to someone online or meet someone at a bar and decide that they’re “the one”. Next thing you know, you’re imagining yourself saying things like, “Oh it’s so embarrassing, but we met on Tinder! Can you believe it? Who knew I would meet my future spouse on a dating app? Thank you for coming to our special day!” But really, within a few days, you’ve gone on an unsuccessful date, maybe hooked up a time or two, or you haven’t heard from them in days.
This is not always the case. I am fully aware of the fact that tens of thousands of successful relationships come out of dating apps. This is not a slam on dating apps, but merely an example of a situation in which tens of thousands of people have gotten their hopes up over one good conversation.
“You have unreasonable standards!” “No one actually exists with all of those qualities.” “You just need to lower your standards a bit.” “You’ll find someone as soon as you stop expecting so much from people.”
Raise your hand if you’ve heard any of those things. Am I seeing everyone’s hands go up?
Yep. Every single (as in “not dating anyone”) person has been told that their standards are too high. However, for a lot of those single people, your expectations are, in fact, too high. Just because you and the person you matched with online or talked to for a few hours at the bar, both like dogs, and went to Disneyland for your family vacations does not mean that you are meant for each other.
The important distinction here is the difference between standards and expectations.
Your standards are core personal beliefs such as how you want your significant other to treat you and your family. These are the things that you should keep high. If you lower your standards, you start to settle for less than you deserve. Expectations, however, are the more superficial things, such as height, weight, job, family size, etc.
The perfect 6’4”, dark haired, healthy (but not too healthy), ambitious (but not too ambitious), dog-loving, Disneyland-going, family oriented, investment banker you’re looking for doesn’t exist. The second that you walk into a possible relationship with the expectation of “this person is the one; they’re too perfect not to be”, you’re setting yourself and the other person up for disappointment. Your fantasies will always be too good to be true.
Now, before you go buy 30 cats and resign yourself to a life of solitude, this does not mean you’re going to die alone. You can still find someone that you are perfectly compatible with, who loves you and your dog, even if they aren’t exactly what or who you always imagined.
Dating is a scary business. You have to make yourself vulnerable in a way that no one ever wants to be, but if you’re ready for it and it’s what you want, be realistic about it. Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey movies are not real life. The beautiful thing is that you get to create your own romantic movie. It might be a comedy, it might be a drama, but either way, it’s your story to create. Now, go do it!