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Many of you consider yourselves to have “high standards” socially. But if this is keeping you chronically single, there might be something darker happening underneath the surface.
I was running what are called ‘boot camps’, where I take people out onto the street to meet strangers and teach them how to authentically interact with others, and I noticed this weird phenomenon occurring; I might say to a guy, “Why don’t you go say hi to that girl there?” and he’d respond, “She doesn’t really look like she’s my type.”
“not my type”
I found this to be really strange excuse, because who’s saying anything about ‘type’ at this point? You’re just meeting somebody, just learning to say hi. Why would you care about whether they’re your type?
What I came to realize was that these people were actually resistant to engaging intimately with other people. They use the “She’s not my type” excuse to create a barrier between themselves and other people.
In my past, I’d do this quite a lot as well. I’d be really interested in someone only until they showed interest in me, too. As soon as that occurred, I’d suddenly become very picky and suddenly develop very high standards that I hadn’t even mentioned before, and then find that this person didn’t meet those standards. This would happen again and again and again, and it would prevent me from connecting with people.
If you’re suffering from this particular problem, you’ll notice that your standards are impossibly high. Usually, they’re superficial, like a person has to be good looking or rich or popular, but you might also have what you consider to be ‘deep’ standards, like the person has been doing really well in their career or they have to have really strong integrity or they have to believe in what you believe in.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with having some preferences and some criteria, but when these prevent you from getting in close with anybody, and that repeatedly occurs in a pattern, there’s probably something unhealthy going on in your psychology.
You might notice, for example, that you often hold people to standards that are higher than the standard you hold yourself to. Like you demand more of their beauty, or their social popularity, or their wealth and career than you demand of yourself. You essentially demand that they’re better than you. And you keep upping that standard so that nobody is ever good enough.
You’ll also perhaps find that you keep arbitrarily updating your standards. So if somebody does meet all your criteria, you’ll just start nitpicking until you find something ‘wrong’ with them. And now that becomes your new criteria. For example, you might find this wonderful partner but discover that they chew with their mouth open, and all of a sudden that’s a deal-breaker for you.
high standards = fear
It’s important that you see this for what it is: a strategy based on fear; a strategy designed to prevent you from getting too deep and close and intimate with anybody.
It’s a coping mechanism for fear of abandonment, fear of rejection, fear of the confrontation of ending something, fear of love and commitment and intimacy, or even just a fear of having strong emotions. Many people are afraid of having emotions like love and hate and joy and bitterness and jealousy and everything else that comes with being in a deep connection.
So they design these standards to prevent these fears from ever coming true – to prevent someone ever getting close enough for any of those emotions to occur.
For more on these fears, check out my fear of abandonment video in the BROJO library – become a member of today for free, and you can check out the video there
Good people might not meet your standards
One of the keys to help you break out of this problematic pattern is to understand that you can’t really know if someone’s right for you until after you get to know them intimately.
Your ideal person might not meet any of your criteria on your checklist. They might surprise you. They might rewrite the criteria. But you need to let them get in close enough for them to do that before you can be sure.
You’ve got to see yourself using this checklist – this criteria of high standards – as an excuse to stop anyone getting close enough to challenge those same standards. This is preventing you from forming deep connections.
You’ll know this is happening and one of the following problems occurs:
It prevents you from approaching new people, you run away once things start to get real; you lose interest shortly after sex or after they show interest in return; you suddenly go from hot to cold without any real reason why; you find yourself beset by apathy, like you suddenly stop wanting them or stop caring about the person out of nowhere; there’s a pickiness and a judgmental nature to your approach to people – you look for the faults in them rather than looking for what’s good in them.
Basically, you see yourself hunting for reasons not to be with them.
What you’ve got to do instead
Just hold strong until you can get through this wall of fear that you’re up against. It was really hard for me to do at first; to actually date someone enough times or stay with them long enough to endure through this fear, to get through the apathy and sudden loss of interest that would occur to me, and realize that this is false. This is not real.
Maybe I won’t like this person, but I don’t know yet – I have to get to know them first. I have to take a risk here. I can’t prejudge based on just looking at them and making assumptions. I’m just not that psychic.
You’ve got to give the two of you a good run. Giving it a good run might mean being transparent about who you are, showing them all your good and your bad, your light and your dark, and letting them judge and react to that. Seeing how they react to that and assessing if they react in a way that makes you feel good about the relationship.
It might mean taking the time to meet their close friends and family, getting a sense of who they surround themselves with. Who are their influences? Do I connect well with those people?
You’ve got to be in multiple different scenarios together, not just one date. Different locations and venues, different times of day, different activities. Experience a range of events together, and allow them a chance to settle into you so that they can release who they really are. Then you can find out if you’re a good connection or not.
Maybe you need to give them a chance to hurt you, to show if they’re trustworthy. Maybe you’ve got trust issues, and you need to set them up with something that they could disappoint you on or something that they could hurt your feelings with, and see if they do it. See if they are caring and kind and compassionate. Now, I don’t mean manipulatively testing people – you can be quite open about this – but maybe letting them borrow something or relying on them to pick you up or something like that, where you can see whether they’ve got the qualities that make for a good relationship.
Let go of your standards
First and foremost, what I think you need to do is drop your checklist.
When I coach people about dating and relationships, and I ask them about their criteria, mostly what I get back is things that have nothing to do with a good relationship. Things like money and looks and popularity and shared beliefs. These are not what make a good connection!
A good connection is about how you interact with each other, whether your values align, whether you have fun together, your sexual chemistry. None of that stuff can be decided by a checklist judgment, you have to go and experience it to figure it out.
I often help find people to find ‘the one’. And when they do, they’re often surprised by who it is. They’re surprised by the qualities that person has. They didn’t have that stuff on their checklist, and the stuff they did have on their checklist was irrelevant; it had nothing to do with how good the connection is.
You’ve got to open yourself up to being surprised, while at the same time understand that your checklist is like a shield that you hide behind to stop people getting intimate with you, because you’re afraid. It’s okay to be afraid. Many of us are – most of us, maybe – but you’ve got to push through that fear if you really want that great connection with someone.
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