Are Your Dating Standards Too High?

Find out what's keeping you single.
When your friends joke that you're too picky, you tell them you have high standards but you're waiting for the right man. It's not your fault that your perfect partner isn't out there. But sometimes you can't help but wonder if you are setting your sights a tad too high. Are you waiting for Mr. Right to show up -- or Mr. Perfect?

Are you too picky?

Everyone has a list of criteria for selecting a prospective partner, be it personality, physical attractiveness, intelligence or social standing. But there's a big difference between having high requirements and having impossible, sky-high expectations.

"Being choosy about who you date is fine, but being picky to a fault is unreasonable," says Alison Blackman Dunham, author of The Everything Dating Book. Unrealistic expectations often arise when people get too closely focused on their dating checklist and don't allow for compromise. And the most unfortunate part? Women who set sky-high standards often let someone special get away because they're holding out for "someone better".

Common traits of happily married women

So what are the standards of other women like? Rhonda Findling, psychotherapist and author of The Dating Cure, has noted through her psychotherapy practice that women who are happily partnered share certain traits: They're less picky about superficial qualities, but are more demanding about his character traits, which include dependability, emotional availability, consistency and supportiveness. They're also very hopeful that they will meet and connect with a man.

But most importantly, perhaps, is that they are willing to make compromises. "For example, she may be willing to accept a man who earns less money than she does or is not as handsome as she hoped," says Findling.

Compromise without lowering your standards

Some may think that compromising means 'settling', but it isn't about accepting someone who is obviously a deal-breaker. It's about staying true to what's important to you, while keeping an open mind about the less important criteria. You'll open up more options without lowering your standards.

Pin-point your priorities

To do that, you have to first identify what matters to you, and what is flexible. The following exercise will help you pin-point your priorities:

Write down the list of characteristics that you consider the most important in selecting a prospective mate, as well as the things you really can't accept in a partner. Be totally honest with yourself and be as specific as you want. If you feel having a degree is key, go ahead and list it down. If religion is important, jot that down. If not wanting children is a deal-breaker, indicate it.

After you have listed as many traits as possible, think about which of these qualities are most important to you. Then go back and circle the top six assets (the things your perfect partner must have) and top six liabilities (the things that you cannot accept in a partner), says Blackman Dunham.

This priority checklist will help you have a clearer picture of what you truly want in a potential partner. You might find that, for instance, not wanting kids is a no-go for you, but his only-average looks is really no biggie. Once you have a clear idea of what's truly important to you, you can tear down the barriers that prevent you from seeing all the options.

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