How To Set Standards Without Setting Yourself Up For Disappointment

It’s important to have standards and expectations in a relationship, but it’s possible to set them a bit too high, which will only see you end up disappointed when things don’t work out. Getting the balance right with a partner is a tricky thing, but here are some tips to help you out.

  1. Know who and where you want to be in 10 years. The person who doesn’t meet your standards may make you happy now, but in 10 years you may find yourself wishing you’d waited for someone you clicked better with. Prioritize the long-term over the short-term, because the infatuation period will end sooner rather than later. Your future self will thank you.
  2. Give yourself frequent reality checks. This can sometimes just come down to numbers. If you have a laundry list of specific requirements for your ideal partner, you’re absolutely setting yourself up for disappointment. A good tip is to focus on personality and character traits over things like achievements or physical characteristics. Also, prioritize what’s most important. Expecting to find someone to perfectly fit a mold is unrealistic and will most likely leave you feeling discouraged.
  3. Discuss your standards with someone you trust & really listen to their feedback. If you just can’t figure out whether your expectations are too high, maybe it’s time to consult someone else. They don’t have to be an expert; a trustworthy friend or family member will do. Another person can give you a fresh perspective, and sometimes that’s all you need to figure out whether you’re on the right track.
  4. Know your values. You need to know your own values before you know what you want from a significant other. What’s most important to you: family relationships, an active social life, being healthy? This also goes back to picturing what you want your life to look like in 10 years. Think about what you can’t imagine your life without, and then seek out someone who shares that passion.
  5. Make your dealbreakers concrete. You might know what your standards are, but getting them out of your head, whether by writing them down or saying them out loud, might cement them in your mind and keep them front and center when you do enter a new relationship. While it’s never good to be too rigid, it’s important to know what you absolutely won’t budge on. It’ll save you and your partners a lot of time and energy.
  6. Remember that there’s nothing wrong with keeping your list short. Maybe your standards are simply that he’s a good person and treats you with respect. The list doesn’t need to be long and it doesn’t need to impress anyone. In fact, the longer your list of requirements, the likelier you are to miss out on discovering something new. One of the most fun things about a new relationship is gaining new experiences and finding new interests, so keeping an open mind is not a bad thing!
  7. Change your language. Switch “He’s not good enough for me” to “He’s not right for me.” Avoid blaming language at all costs! If you two aren’t compatible, it isn’t anyone’s fault. Even statements like “I’m worth more than that” which seem empowering could become self-defeating. Look deeper into why it didn’t work and see what you can learn from it.
  8. Put yourself first. Other people might tell you that you’re being rigid, closed-minded, etc. But ultimately, you’ll be the one paying the biggest price for not listening to your inner voice. Don’t ever, ever believe that because you have standards you’re picky or arrogant. This is your life, and you don’t want to end up spending it with someone who makes you miserable because you wanted to avoid looking a certain way.
  9. No matter how bad things get, don’t give up hope. If you lose an opportunity for a relationship because you just couldn’t bring yourself to lower your standards, it’s not the end of the world, though it might feel that way for a time. Let yourself cry about it, but don’t blame yourself. And don’t believe it will always be this way. Give yourself some time, then imagine what it will be like when you find someone who does fit the bill.
Victoria is a freelance writer by night and mental health therapist by day. She is a coffee addict, hopeless nerd, devoted cat mom, and loves getting lost in a book or new part of town.