Standards are important. You must know who you are and what you expect. Get ready, Get Set!
In this amazing single season I’m in, I have often been told to ‘Set Standards’. I believe that this is some of the greatest advice I’ve received on this journey. In the past, I never had any clear standards for myself or the people in my life. I was simply existing from day to day. In relationships, I didn’t express how I really felt. I didn’t have a clear understanding of what I wanted or why. At work, I never set any boundaries. I would allow my supervisors to overload me with work and projects. With my children, I didn’t have consistent structure for their daily lives. For myself, I had no solid expectations for who I was and where I was going. I had zero standards. So the idea of having standards in dating was a foreign concept to me. However, once I began to attempt to set standards in dating, it permeated my entire life.
Now, let me just say that there is a missing step before you can set standards. I never heard anyone speak clearly of this step. I learned of this missing step through trial and error. You may also be unaware of this missing step as well. This may be the very reason you have been unable to set standards for yourself. On a side note, when I think about the word “set” two things come to my mind: a track runner and jello. Now these are two totally different things, but the similar point of them reveal a lot. With jello, the setting is when you allow the fully mixed and prepared liquid to be still and in place long enough to solidify. In track, the setting is the runner getting prepared to take off at the sound of the whistle or gun. Both are the final point just before the beginning of something. However, without all of the steps that come before, the ‘set’ has no meaning. You cannot set something you don’t have or didn’t prepare for. OK, so back to the missing step. You have to get standards before you can set them. You have to know clearly what works for you. Understand your non-negotiables and what you expect from life, love, work, etc.
As I said earlier, I learned of this step through multiple attempts and failures. I read tons of books, blogs, magazines, etc. on dating. I watched numerous videos on how-to date and other tips. I then attempted to implement some of these steps because they seemed good. I listened to other people and their experiences. I gleaned from every source I could in the hopes that getting these standards everyone was raving about would fix my dating chaos. I crashed and burned! One example is that a friend of mine doesn’t see a guy for at least 90 days after she first meets him. She said she spent that time over the phone talking and feeling him out to see if he was worth her time. The problem with this is that she is single with no kids. For me, I don’t have loads of time to be on the phone and I actually prefer to be face-to-face with a man. This didn’t work for me because I found myself giving the men the impression I wasn’t interested. I was only able to talk at limited times due to me being a single mom and I declined several offers for coffee or lunch. The good men who were serious and actually wanted to get to know me were concerned about my resistance. This made them pause and eventually we both would fizzle out. I would lose interest in them because of not having the ability to connect in person. They would feel that I was too busy or not seriously attracted to them.
I have several other examples I can give, but I think you get the jest of what I’m trying to convey. Find out what works for you and get your own standard. Be wise and safe in your dealings, and don’t compromise your self worth. I am not saying reject healthy advice such as waiting to have sex or not giving a man your address on your first date. I am referring to some of the suggestions from others that worked for them but may not work for you. Find out if you actually want a man to open your door or bring you flowers. Ask yourself if you want to go on a date a few weeks after meeting him or wait. Whatever your choice, make sure it is authentically you. Having rules that are not clearly defined will come across as you playing games. How can you expect someone to abide by something you’re not fully sold on? From there, set those standards once you get them. When you are confident in who you are and know how you like your eggs cooked (for all my Runaway Bride fans) put your boundaries in place. This does not just apply to dating, it applies to every area of your life.
Consistency is key when communicating your standards. It can make you seem indecisive when you flip-flop back and forth in your standards. For example, if you say you don’t accept calls after 11 pm because you are in bed, don’t call someone else after that time or allow them to call you. If you do this, you are sending the message that you aren’t serious about what your expectations are and people will begin to push your boundaries. Once you make the decision to set a standard, don’t back down or compromise it (unless there is an extenuating circumstance that temporarily causes you to bend. Even then, you need to voice why you are bending and that you plan to return to normal routine once the issue or situation has been resolved).
Look at getting standards as the preparation and trial phase where you get to the bottom of what you want. Setting standards is consistently living in line with those values and habits so that when you encounter others you can clearly state your expectations. From there, when the opportunity arises for a relationship, job, etc. you are fully prepared and living your truth.