Setting Standards and Finding Happiness

I have observed throughout my life women continuously getting involved in relationships with guys of a particular “type.” Or when dating goes south, I have heard many females say verbatim, ” He just wasn’t my type.” I have always been baffled by this because if you ask me to describe my “type” I really couldn’t. My husband Bernard does not fit into a mold similar to that of past boyfriends or dating interests, and I attribute this entirely to the standards I set for myself.

What do I mean by the standards?

I have always been an analytical person, and I recognized early on that there were traits I liked and disliked in the opposite sex. I also acknowledged, selfishly, that there were certain things I needed for me to be happy. I want to be clear – I didn’t develop this standard with this fairytale, unattainable image of the perfect man in mind. I set a bar because I didn’t want to find myself in an unhealthy cycle of dating similar guys all sharing certain qualities I wasn’t a fan of and expecting different results. I had seen so many friends fall into that cycle and I was determined not to be one of them.

So from my very first boyfriend on I recognized traits about him I loved and the ones I disliked. My first boyfriend was kind-hearted, funny, and loved me despite all my imperfections. I knew in the future any guy I dated needed to be kind-hearted, be able to make me laugh, and like/ love me despite all my flaws. My first boyfriend enjoyed partying and was completely content with the way things were; not whole-heartedly interested in change. I learned that I needed someone who wasn’t always about having fun; that could be serious and who was constantly pushing to achieve more and didn’t settle for contentment.

I want to stress that the traits that I found didn’t satisfy my needs is not in any way a poor reflection on my first boyfriend. He was perfect the way he was. I wouldn’t expect someone to change things about themselves to make me happy, as I would never be willing to do that for someone else.

Each man I encountered in my life; whether romantic or just friendly I took noticed of the traits I liked and disliked and categorized them to form a precedent.

How to develop your criterion and what to do with it?

You don’t have to keep an actual list of likes and dislikes unless you want to, otherwise, keep a mental list. I want to emphasize here that just because a guy didn’t meet everything I needed/wanted, I didn’t automatically dismiss him. Don’t ignore a dating opportunity if it arises and you’re interested; but, it is important to know and trust yourself and your instincts. You will notice the things that annoy you, the things that excite you, and I fully believe you will know if the person is a right fit. It all comes down to being honest and realistic with yourself.

Ask yourself:

Do you think this guy could be the one with whom you spend the rest of your life?

Or could he simply be someone with whom to have fun and enjoy one another’s company?

Does he remind me of an ex-boyfriend?

In what way – good or bad?

Are there things that drive you nuts but you believe you can “change” them?

Or are his little imperfections minuscule in comparison to him as a whole?

I will be blunt here and say that the only way a person will change is if they want to – no person, including yourself, will change who they are to satisfy someone else and find complete happiness within. Asking yourself these questions will help draw a realistic understanding of him and the future of the relationship. It will also allow you to have a genuine conversation with yourself and set a bar for future potential dating prospects.

The point of setting a precedent for yourself is once again not to get the perfect man – that is an unattainable goal, and you would be setting yourself up for a life of solitude. The standard is a way to help you stay out of a familiar dating pattern of similar guys and to ensure you are not settling or compromising your happiness.