By Stephanie Self
You know what sucks? Feeling like you’re never good enough for anybody no matter how hard you try or no matter how much you think you are being the best version of yourself.
I’ve had a lot of friends in the last several months (mainly women) complain to me about how they feel as if they keep meeting people who just don’t “cut it.” All the guys they’re going after seem great at first and then the spark seems to fade for as many reasons as you could possibly think of. They end up frustrated and jaded.
I was surprised, then, to come across a column that a twenty-something man wrote espousing the opinion that men should be expecting more from modern women. Apparently, modern ladies have very high standards of the men they meet, but they don’t hold themselves to those standards. Or, as the author said to me over Twitter, “women (not all of course) set their standards too high while not doing anything to have such lofty standards.”
So, women are apparently getting disappointed because men aren’t meeting their standards, and men are upset because they think women don’t deserve to hold them to these standards. So, we all have standards of some kind, not just women or men. What standards, you ask?
Well, those vary quite a bit from person-to-person, don’t they?
I get the pressure of “standards”: Especially when trying to date, it is so taxing to put yourself out there, puff out your chest and show off your feathers, do that crazy mating dance, and never get anything out of it. Or worse, you get the attention of someone you deem to be a fine specimen and it goes awry anyway, despite how much you tried to salvage it. Sometimes you also want to shake your fist at the universe screaming, “Why can’t you just send me someone who’s worth my time?” because maybe no one seems like they’re worth doing the crazy mating dance for.
The solution to all of this might seem that we all need to raise our standards. Perhaps if we all collectively start expecting more from each other, then people will meet those standards and realize that no one likes a schlub. We should all rally together with our picket signs chanting, “Settle no more! Settle no more!” It’s a lot easier to guard yourself from disappointment when you can know immediately if someone doesn’t “meet your standards.”
My mother basically raised me to believe that “all men are pigs” who care not about who I am or what I have to offer as a partner, but how many times they can get in my pants before it becomes too much work. I’ve also had my heart broken a few times anyway. At that point, why would I even bother giving guys a chance? Whatever guy I meet again should be put through the ringer to prove his devotion to me, right? I think this is likely the mentality that broken-hearted people: “Either I stop dating or I raise my standards. Best not to become a bitter old man/woman if I can help it.” That’s where they’re wrong, though.
Of course everyone is going to be disappointed with all these standards involved. It’s probably because we’re all so jaded and taught to have expectations of the opposite sex. This is especially difficult to navigate in a time where women now have more agency in the dating world (although some men would probably argue they don’t use it). For better or for worse, dating requires us to be vulnerable, which means tearing down your own ego. With that, there will always be people you meet who make you feel like you’re not good enough. There will also be those who make you feel like the person you think you truly are.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say maybe settling isn’t such a terrible thing. Should you settle for the person who cheats on you and tells you that you’re ugly? Should you settle for the person who makes you work way harder in the relationship and never puts as much effort into it? Should you settle for the person who doesn’t make you feel like you are the best version of yourself? No. That’s not what I’m proposing.
What I am proposing is that maybe if we all stopped walking around with our heads up our asses, then maybe we would be finding people who are worth our while. You could be missing out on people who are actually great for you. Raising your standards may alienate everyone so that you’ll find the one you love (or alternatively, lead to loneliness), but lowering them might show you what you’ve been missing out on.
Stephanie Self studies English she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.