I’m not the friend you go to for relationship advice. I’m the friend who you complain with about the rude guy at the bar or promise to live with if neither of us gets married. I am perpetually alone not because I’m a man-hater or because I fear commitment, but because of my high standards for relationships and men.
Some of the biggest influences in my life have been TV and movies. I grew up in front of a screen, and I loved it. I still own an embarrassing number of VHS tapes, many of which are Disney movies. I’m one of those people who loves re-watching movies, and I like to recite lines just for fun. These movies, which I adored so much, are one of the reasons I have such high expectations for relationships. I know it sounds silly, but this is where my relationship issues all began.
It started when I saw Beast defend Beauty, when Prince Eric fell in love with a girl who was very different from him, and when Quasimodo was brutally friend-zoned. These characters were proof that fairytale love exists, and I expected my future relationships to be fairytale-like. All that slightly changed after my parents got divorced. My dad moved out, I lived with my mom and sister, and I spent most of my time with my mom’s female-dominated side of the family. The estrogen levels were very high, and so up went my expectations for men and relationships.
It’s ironic because you would think, with my parents’ divorce, that I would have been anti-relationships, but I just have high standards for myself and my partner because I have seen a bad relationship. I was strangely optimistic for my own love life. I wasn’t going to let myself down by getting into a “bad” relationship. If I kept my expectations high and waited as long as possible to find the right person, it would all work out. I wouldn’t waste my time, or anyone else’s for that matter by dating people I saw no future with. I promised myself I wouldn’t mess up the way my parents did. I guess I blamed my parents for not knowing that their relationship wouldn’t work out. Granted, I’m glad for my existence and that of my sister, but how much pain could have been avoided if they never married at all?
Knowing what a messed up relationship can do to people, I promised myself I wouldn’t settle for mediocrity. I would never settle, period. I thought I knew what I wanted out of a relationship. But I had no way of knowing since I had never been in one.
My so-called "deal-breakers" were concepts pushed at me through TV shows, movies and my feminist family members. I had no way of knowing what my actual deal-breakers would be because I didn’t let myself date.
I never understood what was so great about dating around. My older half-sister once told me to date all different types of guys to find out what you like in a potential partner. I completely avoided this piece of wisdom, and I missed out on some dating opportunities because I was scared: Scared I wouldn't like the person. Scared they wouldn't like me. Scared I would like that person. Scared they would like me.
This isn’t a sob story, and please don’t email me with potential blind dates. I know what my issue is here. I know I have to change this habit of comparing everything to either entirely imaginary, idealistic relationships or my parents' toxic relationship. The first step, writing this story and admitting that having ridiculously high standards, is just a coping mechanism.