Sometimes having high standards can give you a bad reputation. We all know that friend who has a long, detailed list of the qualities he or she wants in another person. (I want her to cook well but not better than me, I want him to love baseball but not the Dodgers, I don’t think I could be with someone who has a liberal arts degree, He has to be a good dresser otherwise I just can’t look at him, etc. etc. etc.) We call these friends picky, unrealistic, and say that they’re completely unreasonable for wanting the things that they do.
But are they really? Does having high standards hold you back from finding the right person or does it help you find the relationship that you really want?
After looking into it more closely, perhaps our picky friends are actually onto something.
If you know what you want, it’s easier to find it
Comedian Aziz Ansari has a bit in his stand-up special Buried Alive about search filters in online dating. He has a friend who met his wife online, and is shocked by how easily they found each other. “I asked him, ‘What’d you search?’ And he goes, ‘Jewish and my ZIP code,’” Ansari recalls. “I found a Wendy’s that way a few weeks ago!” he jokes. It’s comedy, but as the saying goes, it’s funny because it’s true.
Whether or not you’re online dating, if you know there are particular qualities you want in a person you can go out and find people who have those qualities. You have a target, an objective, and something to go after. If you’re interested in someone active, you naturally keep an eye out for cars with bumper stickers from your favorite ski mountain, pay extra attention to fellow customers while shopping at REI, or match with people with hiking and outdoor pictures on their online dating profile. Because that’s what you know you want, you seek it out and find it.
Having high standards leads to better relationships
According to a study from the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin on American marriages, having high standards can lead to better, more satisfying marriages—but only if your significant other can actually live up to them. Having high standards led couples to ‘up their game’ so to speak. They challenged their partners to be better versions of themselves and pushed their relationships to new levels as well. Sure, the couples were risking being disappointed if they didn’t live up to each other’s expectations, but in the end the majority of people who had high standards were happier because they went for what they wanted.
It’s OK to value yourself enough to ask for more
Maybe you have high-standards because you, well, let’s just say it… You’re pretty amazing and you deserve great things. Knowing that you’re a worthwhile person and being confident in yourself is always a good thing. Just be careful to check yourself every so often to make sure you’re not getting too big-headed. If you find yourself saying no to people for random reasons that seem like something from an old Seinfeld episode (she has man hands, he’s a close-talker, she’s a bad breaker-upper) chances are you may be taking it too far.
And now we’re to the tricky part about having high standards…
There’s a fine line between wanting to meet someone who you can be excited about and unnecessarily judging people who may be really wonderful. So keep your eyes and mind open, look for people who fit your life and interests, but don’t rule out someone just because he or she doesn’t look exactly like the idea you have in your head. Remember, just because you know what you want doesn’t mean life can’t surprise you. And there’s always that chance that you might meet someone with all the qualities you never knew you always wanted.