Every girl deserves a good guy, but let’s be realistic–there’s only one Ryan Gosling, and he’s not available to most of us. No, it’s not wrong to have standards, but are your standards impossible to reach? Are you so focused on your path to the perfect guy that you can’t see the imperfect-but-perfect-for-you guy outside your blinders?
Gillian*, a recent graduate of Kwantlen Polytechnic University, is familiar with friends who have sky-high expectations and says seeing them pass up good guys is frustrating.
“I think that people today are so fixated on finding Mr. or Mrs. Right... that we completely overlook the wonderful people who are right there in front of us,” she says. “One [of my friends] has been alone for as long as I've known her because no one meets her physical standards. And I have another who has dated everyone she knows for a short period of time, but she's constantly trying to 'upgrade,' so she's never happy.”
But what are some signs that you, like Gillian’s friends, have sky-high expectations preventing you from seeing the great guy right in front of you?
1. You Can’t Put Your Finger on Why He’s Not Good Enough
You say “he’s just not my type,” but you can’t come up with concrete reasons why. You might not even have a defined “type,” you just know that whatever it is, he’s not it. Translation? You don’t actually know what you want, and not knowing what you want means you’ll never be satisfied in a relationship.
Kim Sarrasin, a Vancouver-based dating and relationship expert, says it’s necessary to be aware of your needs, acknowledge them, and not be afraid to ask for them. “Every woman is individual,” she says. “It’s more about how in tune you are to what it is that you want and how much courage you have to ask a man to fulfill on the needs that you have.”
If this is you, ask yourself what kind of guy you see yourself with. What would make you happy? What are the things you need from a relationship? Make a list, but make sure it’s not too specific...
2. You Stick to Your Specific List of Must-Haves
You’ve written up a list of qualities that defines your dream guy, from a specific down-to-the-decimal number in his bank account, to the placement of the dimple on his left cheek (okay, well, maybe not that specific). If your list says things like “a full head of hair,” “comes from a big family,” “likes alternative rock,” “aspires to have a career in the medical industry,” or “dresses like a hipster but doesn’t act like one,” chances are, you won’t find a guy who ticks off all these boxes (unless you’re really lucky).
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have expectations, but unless all the stars magically align and the universe conjures up a guy who fits your specifications, you’re never going to be happy because there will be no guy who fulfills your detailed wish list.
Rewrite criteria on your list to be less specific, all while staying true to what you truly desire. Ask yourself why you want that specific quality, and rephrase your criteria to say what you really want. For example, if you wrote, “must have a full head of hair,” the reason you probably wrote this is because you don’t think you could be attracted to a bald man. Instead, put: “must be attractive to me.”
Or, if you wrote that he must make a certain amount of money, it might be because you desire a guy who works hard to achieve his ambitions (in other words, no couch potatoes wanted!). Instead, put “must be passionate about his career and have a great work ethic.”
You will still have a list of what you want, just less stringent, which leaves room for a great guy to squeeze through!
3. You Put Too Much Weight on the Little Things
You’re out the second that he does something “wrong,” whether it is scratching his nose at the dinner table or finding out he used a Groupon deal for date. If his distaste for Game of Thrones is an immediate deal-breaker, you might need to re-examine your priorities.
Re-evaluate your list of deal-breakers. Just like it’s important to know what you want, it’s also important to know what you don’t want. What are the top things you would absolutely not be able to tolerate in a guy?
Limit the number of deal-breakers so that you can count them on one hand (or two, max). Understandable deal-breakers are ones related to disagreement on moral issues, values, and how he treats you (any kind of abuse, neglect, cheating, etc. is obviously not okay!). Whatever deal-breakers you won’t bend on, make sure that they’re big enough issues that they truly define who the guy is as a person.
Okay, he might have insisted you pay separately for the first date, going against your belief that men should always pay for everything. But maybe he’s going through a tough time financially at the moment. If everything else was fine up until the moment he asked you to cover your part of the bill, ask yourself if you could overlook this imperfection.
Ask yourself what is most important to you and what you want out of the relationship. If it’s essential that he’s a family guy, the fact that he is close to his mom and wants kids one day might be enough of a reason to overlook his crooked nose.
No one is perfect, but when you do find a good guy who possesses none of your serious deal-breaker qualities, you’ll like him enough to overlook that crooked nose or the fact that he is a frequent Groupon user.
4. Your Friends Have Stopped Trying to Set You Up
You rely on online dating because your friends gave up on introducing you to potential guys a long time ago. You might have turned down every one of their suggestions, and the ones who you didn’t turn down barely lasted half a date.
Okay, maybe your friends have bad taste in guys or aren’t natural born matchmakers. But if they’ve tried multiple times, with a variety of different guys... at the end of the day, you have to examine the common denominator (you).
If they’re your good friends, they probably wouldn’t set you up with someone they thought wasn’t worthy or wouldn’t be a good match for you. So if you want to give your friends another chance, let them know you’re willing to be more open to their suggestions and let them know what your absolute deal-breakers are.
5. You Haven’t Had a Long-Term Relationship in a While (Or Ever)
Your oldest friends can’t remember the last time you’ve had a boyfriend, and it’s not because guys don’t try to pursue you.
Maybe your last real relationship ended in heartbreak and you’re scared of experiencing that again. Being picky could be your own way of protecting yourself and making sure you don’t get hurt again.
As an expert, Sarrasin recognizes that if a woman is nitpicking down to the littlest things, it might stem from her fear of being in a relationship. “Generally, she’s got her walls up,” she says. “She has a fear around men. That’s a woman who is afraid of actually being in a relationship.”
Have you been burned before? Acknowledging that the fear of getting hurt is the root of your pickiness is the first step to healing (and moving on to a better guy!).
6. You’re Waiting for That Head-Over-Heels Crazy Chemistry Feeling
Just like you can’t expect life to be an episode of Friends, you can’t always expect an overwhelming, magical attraction akin to that of Edward and Bella. As much as you want to experience an enchanting love story right out of a romance novel, you have to have realistic expectations. After all, the butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling eventually fades.
Don’t disregard attraction; that is important. But sometimes attraction doesn’t come instantly—it can reveal itself after getting to know a person better. If he seems like a decent guy, give him a chance before dismissing him over a lack of Fourth of July-worthy fireworks. Sometimes a spark takes a while to build before turning into a flame.
Remember: Standards are Important, but in the End, the Little Things Don’t Matter
Estefania*, a rising junior at British Columbia Institute of Technology, didn’t ever imagine she would end up with her current boyfriend. However, even though he didn’t fit the criteria of her ideal guy, he ended up changing her idea of who her ideal guy would be.
“I think everyone has a certain expectation when it comes to a partner: ‘they have to be funny and tall and play a sport,’” says Estefania. “But then one day, someone comes along who is nothing like your expectations, and then you realize how stupid this list really is, because even though they don’t check off most or any of your criteria, they are somehow better.”
Sometimes, the strength of your expectations will go by the wayside when you meet someone so great that they don’t have to be everything on your list. So examine your priorities, deal-breakers and expectations. You never know—your perfect-for-you guy could be right in front of you!