How To Establish And Maintain Your Dating Standards

by Caitlin Rondino

Having high standards is not gender related. It does not only apply to ‘high maintenance’ women, but rather, it’s a gender-neutral concept. Guys have their preferences, as do girls. Women who go after men with fat wallets and great bodies are just as guilty of being ‘shallow’ as the men chasing the blondes with huge boobs.  Wardrobe, car, looks, body type, smoker or non-smoker, rugged or cleanly polished – everyone has their preference.

We may not all be realistic in our search for the jaw-dropping prototype we’d like to settle down with, but rather than call our preferences delusional, we’ll call them our surface standards.  We consider them surface standards because they only focus on a prospect’s physically appealing traits.  But are these standards appropriate?  I think to an extent, yes.

When talking about relationships, regardless of your age, the only bad time to be in a relationship is when you don’t have any sort of idea who you are or you who want to be.  A relationship will inhibit you from finding yourself and being happy on your own. The person you're in a relationship with might also have no idea who they are, yet.  Now, you're just two people inhibiting each other from reaching your individual potential.

Your entry-level job fresh out of college is not who you are - it’s what you do. Your group of friends may not be the group you’re associated with for the rest of your life, you may not be dedicated to your current position at work for the rest of your life, and you may not always live wherever your current home is. There are experiences to be had, connections to be made and lessons to be learned before settling down with someone.

Among these lessons and experiences, you will gradually develop your standards. It doesn't make you shallow or self-involved to hold onto standards and preferences. It makes you responsible because you understand that not everyone you meet is going to be the right fit for a relationship.

We have no problem determining our "type" when it comes to looks, but when it comes to the traits that actually affect the ability to sustain a strong relationship like compatibility, emotional connections and combating stress together, we don't seem to give a sh*t.

We've all dated at least one sh*thead or lunatic that helped us to define exactly what qualities we don’t desire in a partner. From my experience, I’ve realized there is an unfortunate disconnect between experiencing what we don’t like and preventing it from happening again. We regard negative qualities as unacceptable in the relationship that they are revealed, yet, we tend to disregard the presence of those qualities in the next relationship. While it may have been two different individuals who possessed these qualities, for some reason, the standard didn’t transfer over to the next relationship.

We’re getting older, and a sense of responsibility and maturity should come hand in hand with age. Why wouldn't you want to find yourself becoming more responsible and mature? I, however, will admit to being guilty of settling for the same type of people over and over again with a completely conscious awareness of it.  What I am unsure of is my reasoning for it.

Maybe I convinced myself that because it was a new guy, I could deal with the qualities that I had already been exposed to.  I look back at the relationship now, and I was making excuses for someone who was just being his self, when I was the one who should have been confronting the qualities I didn't like.  Of course, it turned out that I couldn't deal with it.

There are going to be traits in people you don’t like, and no matter who is it that portrays those qualities, life is too short to voluntarily deal with people who do anything less than make you happy.  Learn to stop looking for punishment and basking in misery by reverting to the same types of people.

I can’t determine what other people like or dislike, and later on in life, my preferences will also change, but here are some preliminary standards you should keep in mind, and hopefully your own standards will develop from there.

He/She Comes From a Stable Household

You should never judge a person by the company they keep, but family is a different story.  Nobody’s family is picture perfect.  Chances are that if they grew up in a messed up household, they’re going to have issues and those issues can range from A-Z.  That family has spent more time influencing him/her during the most critical years of development, and you do not stand a chance in changing their already formed perceptions.

It doesn't mean he/she is a bad person, just maybe not the right person for you.  You should never try to come between anyone’s familial relationships or sway your significant other from their family.  Obviously, you can’t expect to meet the entire lot of family members after the first date, but it is something to keep in mind once you've dated for a while and are determining whether the relationship is worth taking to the next level.


Jealousy is sure way to destroy any relationship.  If you see that your significant other becomes easily jealous when you talk to certain people, or spend time with certain people, run.  Cut your losses, and run as fast as you can from that relationship. This person has insecurities of their own and is projecting them onto you. A jealous relationship is a toxic relationship and isn't something I advise anyone to stick around to try and change.

Find someone who is going to accept you entirely, which includes what you wear, who your friends are, and what you like to do.  They may even be jealous of who you are as an individual because of your level or success, or maybe even your likeness as a person.  You should never feel that you’re in constant competition with the person you’re dating, or be made to feel badly about yourself for who you are.


Like Shoshanna boldly stated in the season two finale of ‘Girls,’ “I can’t be the only thing you like.”  Any prospective partner should be passionate not only about you and your relationship, but also about a hobby or interest, some other area of life that was present before you came along. Relationships where all of the couple’s undying attention is given to one another end poorly.

In addition, it's better for your partner’s hobby or interest to have no connection to you.
A thirst for life and interest in a vast array of things is a turn on - for me, at least.  Why date someone who just sits around, drifting through life when the world has so much to offer?  You will have your own interests that have nothing to do with your partner, and their lack of passion for life will eventually wear you down.

Lack Of Drive

Maybe you've met someone who is convinced that they have discovered their exact place in life, and there is no reason to search any further.  Maybe this person feels that there is nothing left to achieve, no great lengths to reach and no need for self-improvement. Again, if this quality is evident, run.  There is room for self-improvement in everyone, especially when you're in a relationship!

We're constantly reminded of all things we could be doing better when we have a significant other, and there's some truth in that.  Just know that there's a fine line between self-improvement and trying to turn your partner into someone they’re not. A partner with no drive is going to drag you down and prevent you from experiencing things because they feel they've experienced enough.

Mutual Likeness for Personal Space

Don’t suffocate each other. In other words, don’t sh*t where you eat.  It's really that simple. The last thing you want to do is have your significant other’s existence permeate all areas of life.  If you do end up breaking up, this person’s memory will haunt every aspect of life and every activity you shared and used to love to do. Alone time is a necessity for everyone’s mental health. You should be alone with your thoughts, sometimes, to relax and think clearly.

Spending all of your time with one person will result in restlessness - you'll end up pulling away from them from feeling suffocated.  You’ll search outside of the relationship for an escape or satisfaction elsewhere, and it won’t necessarily involve sex, but be in terms of life in general.  Of course, you’ll do things together, but you shouldn't have to do everything together to make the relationship to work.

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