POPPIES X X C C A

Raise the Bar

Your significant other doesn’t hate Valentine’s Day because “it’s a made-up holiday.” They just can’t deviate from the plan to exploit your desperation and groom you to expect and accept less than the bare minimum.

Your significant other doesn’t hate Valentine’s Day because “it’s a made-up holiday.” They just can’t deviate from the plan to exploit your desperation and groom you to expect and accept less than the bare minimum.

Romantic relationships can be incredibly complicated. They can also be incredibly dramatic, lonely, and otherwise unfulfilling. But they don’t have to be. As a woman, I notice how idealism and optimism many of us were when we were young, especially when it came to relationships. But many of us lose that idealism somewhere along the way as our hearts get broken, our partners let us down, and we grow older and more jaded. At that point, many of us will settle for just about anyone who “doesn’t seem so bad.” Women, in particular, seem to have the self-destructive habit of becoming less selective and lowering our standards as we get older. We tell ourselves that this is “good enough,” even when we want consideration, communication, consistency, and commitment from our partners. We tell ourselves that being an option or after-thought is fine, and that wanting to be a priority is “childish,” or “needy.” We lie to ourselves because we think that if we say what we want, we probably won’t get it, so better to just pretend to want the dynamic that we have right now.

What makes such relationships so tragic is that the resentment and misery felt in these sorts of one-sided dynamics is rarely contained within them. When a woman isn’t getting her needs met in her romantic relationship, it reveals itself in every other area of her life. How she interacts with her co-workers, how she interacts with friends and family who are in healthy, loving, demonstrative relationships, even how she behaves towards her children and grooms herself, are all impacted. The lowered bar of romance can cause either a lowered standard for fulfillment in other areas, or a desperate quest to seek validation and control by being hyper-competitive in other arenas. Women in bad relationships often take a perverse pleasure in tearing down seemingly happy couples by calling them “fake,” or reveling in the dramas of couples which they deem worse than their own. In this way, they can uphold the wall they’ve built around this fragile, emotionally unsustainable dynamic.

Better is out there, for anyone who decides to leave a situation that does not serve them, and seek it out. You deserve the love you want. You just have to decide if you think you’re worth it. I don’t believe that we attract what we are; flies gravitate to roses every day. But I do believe that we attach to whatever we feel is the best that life has to offer us. In order to change your relationships, you must first change your mindset. If you think that a neglectful partner is the best you can do, you’ll allow neglect. If you think a non-committal “partner” is as good as it gets, you’ll never have real commitment. If you think that cheating is normal, you will normalize it in your relationships.

Many women think that there will be no one if they raise their standards. Yes, options are slimmer when your standards are higher. But the mental reward of insisting to yourself that you deserve better can propel you in so many areas of life, including relationships. The payoff of waiting for someone who makes you genuinely happy and makes you feel loved and cherished is worth it. Human beings love when things are easy, but shortcuts and not wanting to wait for what’s right, opting instead to settle for “Mr. Right Now,” has caused so many women to go through months, years, and even decades of heartache and wasted time. You can do things the “easy” way, or you can do them the right way: on your terms. You decide.

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