I’ve always been a woman who sets the bar as high for my partners as I do for myself, but that strategy hasn’t been paying off recently. Every guy I’ve pursued over the past few years has been a total let-down, and I have no idea if I’m just expecting too much or if the dating pool is simply going dry.
I’ve always felt like I have healthy standards. I’ve never been the “treat me like a princess” type, but I’m also not the “treat me like a discarded piece of pizza on the floor of a train” type. My expectations for my partners are reasonable both for them and for me, and I’ve always thought that I’ve maintained a healthy balance in terms of what I need in a relationship. So why does every guy I date still manage to fall short?
I never expect anything I can’t deliver. Relationships should be equal, and I’m certainly not about to set a bar so high that I can’t meet it myself. If I can’t commit, I won’t ask a guy to either. If I’m not willing to spoil my partner with expensive gifts (or honestly, even if I am), then I’d never get upset if a guy didn’t want to spend tons of his hard-earned money on me. So it makes it that much more disappointing when guys can’t do the bare minimum to make me happy, because I know I’m not asking for anything remotely impossible.
Most guys don’t even come close to meeting my expectations. I don’t know if I have a loser magnet embedded in my skin or what, but I can’t even find a guy who checks off most of my must-haves. I always feel like I have to sacrifice something massive, like faithfulness or sexual generosity or another quality that’s crucial to a healthy relationship. It seems easy to say that surely there’s a guy out there who could actually fulfill all my needs, but experience is telling me that this might not be the case.
I’ve considered lowering the bar. Maybe the “best” I’ve seen from the men I’ve dated is really the best I can expect. I’ve tried convincing myself that I could maybe be happy without all the things I think I need in a relationship, but deep down, I know I’d end up miserable if I consciously settled for a false idea of love.
I’m running out of options. I do a good bit of traveling, and the worst thing about all this is whether it’s a “me” problem or a “them” problem, this issue doesn’t seem to depend on geography. I’m not desperate enough that I would move specifically to find a good man, but I know for sure I’m destined to be either forever single or forever settling if I stay where I am now. But then, even if I did live somewhere else, would it even make a difference? At this point, I’m starting to doubt it.
People don’t seem to think I’m looking for anything absurd. I’ve consulted with friends, family members, and even the guys I’ve dated, and they’ve all said the same thing: I’m not even remotely high-maintenance. But their words don’t match up with the results of my love life. It sucks when everyone assures you that your standards are reasonable, but then the results your love life shows you suggest otherwise.
I’m open about what I want out of my relationships. I swear I’m not one of those people who pretends to be chill at the beginning and then starts demanding more and more as the relationship progresses. I’m always upfront about what I need, but then the guys I date always seem shocked or super defensive when they fail to meet those expectations and I leave them. I’m not asking for an ever-increasing list of demands, so I can’t figure out why these dudes don’t just bail from the start if they know I’m asking for more than they can give.
They always get my hopes up. This is probably the worst part of all. How many times have I heard the line, “I’ll never hurt you like that”? Every guy I’ve dated has told me this, promised me that they wouldn’t let me down, and then done more damage than the exes that came before them. I’m emotionally exhausted, and at this point, I don’t know how I’ll ever be able to trust a guy’s words ever again.
The stuff they do wrong is never small. I want to scream when my girlfriends tell me about the things that cause arguments between them and their partners. The guys I date don’t let me down by “liking” a girl’s picture on Instagram — they let me down by asking their ex for nudes. I can let a lot of stuff slide, but these dudes go way beyond what’s acceptable for testing a self-respecting woman’s patience.
I genuinely don’t know what I should do. Some of my friends have told me that this is just how guys are and that I should just lower my expectations. But that’s not how I was raised, and it’s certainly not how I approach other aspects of my life. Why should I settle for mediocrity? But at the same time, maybe my standards are too high and I just don’t realize it. I don’t know how I should approach this problem, and I feel like no matter what I do, I’m either going to be disappointed in myself or disappointed in yet another lackluster man.
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