How I learned to raise my standards when it comes to guys
Let me give you a little background about the type of person I am. I've always been described by others as "cool" and "chill" which is fine. I have (and always have had) a very laid-back demeanor. I hate confrontation almost to a fault and to say I'm not easily upset by things is an understatement. In addition to this, I often give people the benefit of the doubt, opting to take their flaws and try to understand where they're coming from and hopefully help them be better even if what they're doing has hurt my feelings. In other words, I'm extremely forgiving. This has often been taken for granted, especially when it comes to dating.
About six months ago I started dating this guy, let's call him Reggie, Reg for short. Prior to meeting Reg I would often lament to my friends about how done I was with guys and how tired I was of people not treating me right, I couldn't understand why my luck with guys was so bad. I was skeptical about Reg in the beginning, but I decided to give him a shot. A few weeks in I was absolutely thrilled by how nice he was and how well he treated me. I would tell anyone that would listen about the various sweet gestures he would do for me. Like paying for my meals, texting me good morning and making sure I got back to campus after we hung out. These among other things were acts of kindness I would have been hard pressed to find in past significant others and the change was refreshing to say the least.
As we were together longer and I compared him to my past significant others I noticed something that made me incredibly sad, but also changed my outlook on life for the better: there was absolutely nothing special about anything Reg was doing. Now you might be saying "Nothing special? I can barely get my crush to text me back!" and that is exactly the problem. I realized that after years of dealing with different guys who in their own ways treated me badly or took me for granted, each one slowly chipped away at my worth and set my standards lower and lower. Before I knew it, I would take any guy who treated me with the slightest bit of kindness because I was so used to the aloof, hard to get, disrespectful, and manipulating behaviors of past significant others.
Listen closely, we should not be celebrating anyone for doing the bare minimum, let alone someone you're supposed to be in a relationship with. You wouldn't expect your parents to be happy with a C+ average, so why should you be happy with anything less than an A+? Here's a short list of things that I've learned should be a prerequisite for a healthy relationship. Think of them as the "core classes" needed to graduate to dating.
You shouldn't feel like you have to pull your significant other's teeth to get them to talk to you. Getting a simple good morning/how are you text shouldn't be something to celebrate, it should be expected from someone who says they care about you. Just like you constantly hit up your friends to talk and see how they're doing, it should be the same with your boo. This isn't to say that you should expect to have an ongoing conversation with them 24/7, you both still have lives, but checking in throughout the day and at least hearing from them everyday is something you should come to expect.
If you don't feel like you can come to your significant other for emotional support and validation without feeling "needy" or "clingy" then there is a major red flag in the relationship. It isn't enough to be there physically for your partner, both parties should feel comfortable enough to be vulnerable with each other and be able to speak up about their needs and wants.
I can't count the number of times that I've felt like I needed to go along with something my boyfriend or person I was dating wanted to do even if I wasn't fully comfortable with it. Everyone is entitled to feel 100% comfortable with what happens in their relationships. Being opposed to some things or wanting to take things slow doesn't make you a prude and doesn't mean you're being unfair, it makes you, you. Your needs are just as important as anyone's and if the person you're with makes you feel like that's a problem, then that's a problem.
Among many, many issues with the way girls are socialized to behave, one of the main ones is being taught to be *super* accommodating. I know that in past relationships I felt like I needed to make myself smaller to make space for the person I was with. I didn't feel like I could be myself for fear of being found annoying or uncool. I didn't speak up about things that I wanted or needed out of the relationship because I thought I'd be asking for too much. That is a load of crap. Never be afraid to take up space and always be yourself. The right person will always accept you for exactly who you are.
The moral of the story here is don't be afraid to come to a relationship, romantic or platonic, with a list of demands. You have to teach people how to treat you or else they will treat you whichever way makes them most comfortable, and that's not fair. Although I appreciate how Reg treats me, I realize now that he's just treating me with the basic decency and kindness that you should expect from anyone that comes into your life. Sometimes we fear being lonely or are so blind to our worth that we will let ourselves get hurt for the sake of keeping people in our lives.
Once you realize how incredibly special, awesome and amazing you are, it becomes that much easier to tell the wrong people to hit the road, and let the right people benefit from your presence. Once you understand the basics of what a healthy relationship looks like, you realize how much more that relationship has to offer! There's more to dating than a good morning text, I promise! Know your worth and stick to your guns and #relationshipgoals will be that much more within reach.
What's your number one deal breaker for a relationship? Let us know in the comments.