Don’t Lower Your Standards, Just Adjust Them! [Confessions of a Twenty-Something]

When looking to get into a relationship, we all have standards. Y’know, those dating standards that we refuse to lower because we know (or think we know) what we deserve. We live by these rules that help us weed through the dating pool of twenty-somethings, hoping to come out in the end with something real and true. We create these lists and rules and regulations when it comes to dating. Are we getting too picky? Are we setting the bar too high for ourselves? Are we too proud to bring it down a couple notches?

When the suggestion of lowering dating standards comes up in any conversation, people get offended. People get defensive. People get irritated. I understand this, and I get where it all comes from. We all think we’re deserving of something, and why should we have to compromise in order to find someone to date us? This is all well and good, but I’m going to make a suggestion that instead of lowering our standards—maybe it’s time to shift our standards.

It is vital that we all maintain a sense of what we deserve when entering a new relationship. We need to respect ourselves. We need standards, but we need realistic standards. It’s good to set some sort of expectations for the person you’d like to fall in love with! It’s healthy and helps build self-esteem. It’s a great way to believe in yourself and believe you’re worth something. It’s when those standards become too specific that things can get a little more complicated.

We don’t want this or that or a guy with gross feet. We can’t deal with his messy closet or the fact that his laugh irritates you or that he uses the wrong kinds of smiley faces when texting you. (Example of this would be “:-)”, just no…) These are such trivial, stupid reasons to not date someone—and yet, there are some of us out there who would kick “wrong smiley guy” to the curb. I like to call this being “picky as hell”. You don’t like his middle name, so you’re not going to go on a second date with him? What? You swore off guys with degrees in journalism because one dude in your news writing class treated you poorly six years ago.

I was one of these people. After I had been burned by the male sex for the 100th time, I was so set on having rules. No more musicians. No more young guys. No more guys from my hometown. I had somehow convinced myself that these qualities were what made them bad guys. He treated me like shit because he played guitar and went to the same high school as me. That was my logic. That was my logic? It had nothing to do with his personality or upbringing, it just had to do with trivial parts of his life.

Looking back, I was such a fool. I changed my mind and changed my attitude when I met the right person, and it wasn’t hard for me to do at all. He was worth it. He showed me that there was room for alteration in what I really wanted from a person in a relationship. If I had stuck with my new set of dating standards and rules, I wouldn’t be in love right now. I wouldn’t be happy every day. I wouldn’t feel appreciated and important and secure. My boyfriend is a musician. He grew up down the street from me. He even smokes cigarettes, which was something that was always a deal breaker for me. He is everything that convinced myself wasn’t right for me. He might be everything I thought I wasn’t looking for, but in reality, he is everything I was looking for.

He’s caring and gentle and kind. He’s adorable and funny and smart. And he loves me.

But what if I had never shifted my standards? What if I hadn’t taken a chance and gotten to know him because of my “rules”? If I hadn’t looked past all the things that I thought I could never commit to, I would have missed out on someone who is now one of the most important people in my life. If we don’t learn to compromise and adjust what we’re looking for, we may never find what we’re looking for. We need to be realistic, thoughtful, and willing to make changes.

Everyone deserves someone who is thoughtful, loving, and intelligent. Everyone deserves to feel special. Everyone deserves happiness. There is nothing wrong with adjusting what you’re looking for, meeting in the middle, and taking chances. The ability to loosen and mold and change will help you find the happiness and love you crave. You don’t ever need to lower your standards, but you may need to adjust them. This is just some friendly advice from someone who has a little bit of experience, but I have a feeling if you take it, you’ll thank me for it later.

Katie recently finished her undergrad at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois. She enjoys wasting hours on Facebook and tweeting things no one cares about. When asked the question, “Do you do marathons?” She promptly responds, “Of course! Which show?” Follow her @KatieGarrity! Or read her personal blog where she talks incessantly about Ryan Gosling and hummus here!

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