Home  >  My Life  >  Relationships

Higher Standards in Dating: What It Is & 38 Signs You Need to Learn Your Worth

Are you wondering whether or not you should have higher standards in your relationships? If so, then you probably should. Here is how you can do it.

Higher Standards in Dating

Ever been on a date where the highlight was the free bread basket, and you still considered a second date? Yep, we’ve all been there! Now, don’t get us wrong, a good sourdough can be life-changing, but should it really be the high point of romantic engagement? This brings us to today’s buzzwords: higher standards.

No, it’s not about seeking a partner who bakes artisanal bread from scratch—although, wouldn’t that be a perk? It’s about expecting more from your relationships and, by extension, from yourself.

Having higher standards isn’t just about dodging future bread-basket disasters. It’s a blueprint for the kind of love and respect you think you deserve, which, spoiler alert, should be a lot!

By setting the love bar high, you’re setting the stage for a relationship where both parties are invested, not just coasting. [Read: 38 Signs and traits of a happy, healthy relationship and what it should look like]

Why Higher Standards Are Important

You might have heard it from your friends, your family, or that random relationship guru on YouTube: “Maybe your standards are too high.” 

But let’s get one thing straight—having higher standards isn’t a relationship death sentence. Quite the opposite! Raising standards in your love life is like putting premium gas in a sports car so you’re designed to perform better.

Here’s why.

1. Aids in Personal Growth

When you align with someone who resonates with your interests and supports your ambitions, personal growth isn’t just possible—it’s inevitable. [Read: 28 Self-improvement secrets to improve yourself and transform into your best self]

Consider a past relationship where your partner scoffed at your love for painting or writing.

The relationship didn’t just stifle your creativity; it stifled you. By raising your standards, you free yourself to find a partner who not only appreciates your passions but encourages them. It’s the difference between being a potted plant and flourishing in the wild.

2. Reduces the Likelihood of Settling for Less

Sure, it’s easy to stick with what’s comfortable, even if it’s not fulfilling. [Read: Toxic relationship – what it is, 107 signs, causes, and types of love that hurt you]

You end up being in relationships that are ‘good enough’ but not great. The problem is, ‘good enough’ starts to feel like a pair of worn-out shoes—comfortable but unsupportive.

Higher standards push you toward relationships that offer more than just a comfortable routine. They lead you to partners who challenge and enrich you.

3. Fulfills Psychological Needs

A relationship should be a partnership, not a hostage situation. According to Self-Determination Theory, we have innate needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness.

In simpler terms, you want to have a say in your life, be good at something, and connect deeply with others. Higher standards can guide you to a relationship where both you and your partner contribute, grow, and relate to each other in meaningful ways.

4. Promotes Mutual Respect and Equality

Respect isn’t just a catchy Aretha Franklin tune; it’s a cornerstone of any healthy relationship. Having higher standards means you won’t tolerate disrespect or inequality.

You’ll seek out someone who not only listens when you speak but values your opinion. Mutual respect creates a balanced relationship where both partners share responsibilities and rewards. [Read: Disrespectful boyfriend – 17 subtle signs and the best ways to deal with him]

5. Improves Overall Life Satisfaction

Your relationship status impacts more than just your Facebook page; it affects your overall well-being. When your relationship meets or exceeds your standards, life just seems more enjoyable.

Everything from your job performance to your friendships can benefit from the ‘love halo’ that comes with being in a fulfilling relationship.

6. Enhances Emotional Security

Emotional rollercoasters might be fun at amusement parks, but they’re exhausting in love life. By aiming higher, you end up with a partner who offers emotional stability, rather than upheaval. [Read: Pistanthrophobia – why you fear trusting people, 16 signs, and ways to overcome it]

No more sleepless nights wondering about ambiguous texts or mixed signals. A solid relationship sets the stage for emotional peace, and who couldn’t use a little more of that?

The Myths Surrounding Higher Standards

There’s a lot of static out there when it comes to having higher standards in relationships. From well-meaning friends to self-help books that missed the memo, everyone’s got an opinion.

But are these common beliefs helping or hindering your quest for quality love? Let’s set the record straight. [Read: 26 Best dating apps for a relationship in 2023 and secrets to find your one!]

1.”You’re Too Picky”

Ah, the classic shaming phrase often thrown at those who dare want more. But let’s get real.

If being picky means you want a partner who treats you with respect and aligns with your values, then by all means, be picky. Raising your standards isn’t about being overly selective, it’s about knowing your worth and refusing to compromise on what’s crucial for you.

2. “You’ll End Up Alone”

The fear of loneliness can drive people to accept less than they deserve. But here’s the kicker: Lowering your standards could lead you into relationships that make you feel more isolated than actually being alone. [Read: 28 BIG myths and huge benefits of being single girls must know and remember]

So, don’t let the fear of an empty bed trump the value of a fulfilling relationship. Higher standards aim to find you a partner worth sharing your life, not just your living space.

From a psychological standpoint, this is where cognitive dissonance comes into play. People who have settled for a less-than-stellar relationship often bend their perception of reality to avoid the discomfort of admitting they’ve settled.

This mental gymnastics rationalizes lower standards, making them easier to accept, but at the cost of genuine happiness. [Read: 52 Signs that you’re meant to be forever alone and single and you like it that way!]

3. “You’re Unrealistic”

While it’s essential to be realistic, there’s a difference between achievable standards and Hollywood fantasies. Higher standards don’t mean you’re holding out for a fairy-tale ending but it means you’re unwilling to settle for a subpar plot.

You’re not searching for perfection but for a person who enriches your life.

4. “You Think You’re Too Good for Anyone”

Raising your standards is often misconstrued as arrogance or a superiority complex.

But it’s not about thinking you’re too good for anyone but it’s about recognizing that you deserve someone as committed to a healthy relationship as you are. [Read: 59 Signs it’s time to break up and give up instead of trying to fix a relationship]

5. “It’s Just a Phase”

Some might say your insistence on higher standards is a passing phase, akin to a rebellious teenage year.

But unlike awkward fashion choices, the desire for a meaningful relationship isn’t something you’ll grow out of. As you mature, your standards should evolve with you, guiding you toward more satisfying relationships over time.

Signs You Need to Raise Your Standards

It’s easy to get complacent in a relationship, especially when you’re dodging red flags like they’re dodgeballs in a high-stakes game. [Read: People-pleaser – 21 signs you’re one and how to stop people pleasing]

The thing is, sometimes the signs you need to raise your standards are subtle, but they’re crucial for your relationship’s well-being.

So, let’s talk about some of those blinking neon signs that might be telling you it’s time for an upgrade.

1. You’re Not Excited About Your Partner—or the People You Date

If you find yourself indifferent to your current partner or the people you’re meeting on dating apps, it might be time to recalibrate those standards. Emotional excitement should be the rule, not the exception. [Read: Boring boyfriend – 34 reasons, signs, and secrets to make love fun and exciting]

2. Your Needs Are Frequently Ignored

In any kind of romantic scenario—long-term or just a few dates—you should feel heard and respected. If you find that your needs or wishes are consistently getting the backseat, it’s time to reassess.

3. You Find Yourself Making Excuses for Them

Making excuses for someone’s behavior is a red flag, whether you’re committed or just enjoying a casual dinner. If you’re spending more time justifying their actions than actually enjoying the relationship, you need a standards upgrade.

In both dating and relationships, ignoring red flags can create a vicious cycle where you reinforce behaviors you actually don’t want. [Read: Disrespectful boyfriend – 28 signs and ways to teach him to treat you better]

Think of it as unintentionally hitting ‘like’ on what you should be swiping left on.

4. You’re Always the One Apologizing

Apologizing when you’re wrong is a sign of maturity, but if you’re always the one saying “I’m sorry”—whether it’s a long-term partner or someone you just started seeing—then that’s a neon sign asking you to revisit your standards.

5. You Keep Hoping They’ll Change

The hope that someone will change isn’t just for committed relationships; it also manifests in dating scenarios. [Read: Why won’t he change? 29 reasons and signs he says he will but never does]

Whether you’re waiting for a committed partner to get their act together or hoping that the person you’re dating will become ‘Mr. or Ms. Right,’ that’s a clear sign your standards need tuning.

6. Your Friends and Family Are Concerned

A loving relationship and a promising date should both pass the friends-and-family test. If the people who care about you are expressing concern about your relationship or the types of people you’re dating, it’s worth taking a hard look at your standards.

7. You’re Always Going Out of Your Way for Them

If you find yourself always being the one to adjust your schedule, make the drive, or basically bend over backward, and they can’t even reach halfway, it’s a problem. [Read: How to say no – 15 ways to reason politely, stop pleasing, and feel kickass]

Relationships and even casual dating should involve mutual effort. If you’re the one always pulling the weight, your standards might need a little beefing up.

8. You Find Yourself Left Behind

Yup, the old “I’m not good enough” trap. Ever feel like partners always leave you broken-hearted, questioning your self-worth? That’s more than just a red flag; it’s a siren blaring, telling you to get out of this emotional danger zone.

This could be a cycle of negative reinforcement, where you subconsciously seek out relationships destined for doom. [Read: Low self-worth – 5 steps to see yourself in a better light]

Breaking free requires raising those standards and recognizing your own worth—because you’re worth more than a string of goodbyes.

How to Actually Set Higher Standards in Relationships and Dating

So, you’ve identified that you need higher standards. Awesome! Identifying the problem is half the battle, but what about the other half?

Setting higher standards doesn’t mean crafting a laundry list of impossible criteria, it’s about building a framework that honors your self-worth and encourages a healthy, fulfilling relationship. [Read: 45 Big relationship red flags most couples completely ignore early in love]

Let’s get down to brass tacks.

1. Self-Awareness and Self-Reflection

The journey to higher standards starts with a pit stop at Self-Awareness Station. Take some time to analyze your past relationships and dates.

Look for patterns, the good and the bad, and be honest with yourself. In the words of Carl Jung, “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life, and you will call it fate.” [Read: 25 Honest, self-reflection questions to recognize the real YOU inside]

2. Clearly Defining Your Non-Negotiables

Your non-negotiables are like the bedrock of your relationship standards. What are the absolute deal-breakers for you?

It could be things like honesty, mutual respect, or even the way someone treats the waiter on a first date. Be clear on these, and you’ll find it easier to sort the wheat from the chaff.

3. Open, Honest Communication

No matter how many psychic mediums we visit, most of us aren’t mind readers. For both dating and long-term relationships, open communication is vital. [Read: 31 Communication exercises and games for couples and secrets to feel closer]

Don’t just assume they know your boundaries; speak them out loud. A simple conversation can often spell the difference between a relationship faux pas and a relationship win.

4. External Validation Is Not Internal Worth

In the psychology world, this taps into the concept of External Locus of Control.

If you’re relying on your partner’s or your date’s validation to feel good about yourself, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.

Your self-worth should come from within, not from someone else’s opinion of you.

5. Be Ready to Walk Away

Ah, the power of a well-timed exit. If a relationship or date is violating your newly set standards, you should feel empowered to walk away. You’re not obligated to lower your standards just to keep someone around. [Read: How to break up when your partner doesn’t want to]

This is a lesson in self-respect and, dare we say, emotional bravery. Is it gonna be easy? No! But is it gonna be worth it? Definitely!

6. Consult Trusted Friends and Advisors

While you’re the ultimate authority on your own life, getting a second opinion can be valuable. Your friends and loved ones can often see things you might be blind to.

Plus, they’ll be more than willing to give you a good “I told you so” if you ever need that extra nudge. [Read: True friendship – 37 real friendship traits and what it takes to be a good, loyal one]

7. Invest in Your Own Growth

Ever heard of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? At the top is self-actualization—fulfilling your own potential.

Investing time in hobbies, career, or simply getting to know yourself better doesn’t just make you more interesting; it sets the bar higher for the kinds of people you attract. So, before you hunt for a partner who’s ‘the whole package,’ ensure that you, too, are a great deal.

8. Know Your Love Languages

If you’re fluent in Words of Affirmation but your partner is all about Quality Time, there’s bound to be some miscommunication. [Read: 67 Sweet yet small romantic gestures that show love in the biggest way]

Knowing your own love languages, as well as those of your partner or potential dates, can help in setting standards that are emotionally satisfying for both parties.

9. Practice Emotional Independence

It’s the oldest cliché in the book, but it’s vital: you must love yourself before someone else can love you. Dependence on another person for emotional stability is a shaky foundation for any relationship.

Let’s give a shoutout to attachment theory here; strive for a secure attachment, not an anxious or avoidant one. The best part? Emotional independence makes you irresistibly attractive.

10. Be Financially Self-Sufficient

Money isn’t everything, but financial struggles are a common breaking point in relationships. Being financially self-sufficient not only boosts your confidence but also allows you to set standards based on personal compatibility rather than financial dependency.

11. Monitor Your Relationship Expectations

Keep your expectations in check. It’s easy to get carried away, imagining how perfect life will be with a partner who meets all your criteria.

However, setting unrealistically high expectations can set you up for disappointment. Align your expectations with your standards, and remember that a healthy relationship is built on compromise. [Read: 20 Healthy expectations that define a good love life]

12. Take Time Off to Reflect

Sometimes the best thing you can do for your love life is to take a breather. A little hiatus—be it from dating or even from a long-term relationship—can provide valuable time to reflect, reassess your standards, and come back stronger than ever.

The Downsides of Unrealistically High Standards in Relationships and Dating

Alright, go-getters, before you set your relationship standards as high as Mount Everest, let’s take a breather.

Having high standards is great, but too much of a good thing can become, well, not so great. [Read: 46 Tips, rules and relationship advice for women to have a great love life]

Here’s how cranking the standards dial up to 11 can backfire.

1. Out on Potentially Good Matches

You’ve got a checklist, and they need to tick every box. Sound familiar?

While having standards is key, being too rigid can mean missing out on someone who could have been a fantastic partner, just because they didn’t meet one or two criteria. Remember, even diamonds have flaws. [Read: 28 Truths why dating apps don’t work for you and secrets to turn it around]

2. Could Lead to Narcissistic Personality Inclination

Psychologically speaking, this is the realm where an inflated sense of self can eclipse reality. If you start believing only someone as “perfect” as you will do, you risk diving headfirst into the narcissism pool—and trust me, that’s not a fun swim.

This mindset can block meaningful connections and make it difficult to build a relationship grounded in mutual respect and empathy.

3. Striking a Balance Between Realistic and High Standards

The key is not to aim too low or too high, but just right. Think Goldilocks, but for love! [Read: 19 Unrealistic expectations in love we want to believe but shouldn’t]

Understand that everyone, including you, is a work in progress. It’s about finding someone whose flaws align well with your virtues, and vice versa.

4. Fear of Commitment

Sometimes, the search for “The One” becomes an excuse to avoid commitment altogether. It’s easier to say, “They weren’t perfect,” than to dig deep and commit to a relationship’s ups and downs. This can often turn into a form of self-sabotage.

5. Paralysis by Analysis

The more criteria you have, the harder it becomes to make a decision—classic decision paralysis. At some point, you might find yourself in a dating gridlock, unable to move forward but also unwilling to compromise. [Read: 38 Steps to stop overthinking, what it looks like, signs, and the fastest fixes]

6. Social Isolation

Unrealistically high standards can extend beyond romantic relationships to your social circle. Before you know it, you’re not just screening potential partners but also friends, colleagues, and others, leading to a life that’s lonelier than you’d like.

7. Cognitive Load

High standards require high maintenance, mentally speaking. Constantly evaluating and re-evaluating potential partners based on an extensive list can be draining. It’s like having too many apps open on your phone; eventually, you’re going to feel the lag.

Know Your Worth, and Accept Nothing Less

If this emotional rollercoaster through the ups and downs of relationship standards taught us anything, it’s this: having high standards isn’t about seeking an unattainable perfection. [Read: Dating a perfectionist – 12 things you must know before you date one]

Nah, it’s about finding the jigsaw puzzle piece that fits just right with your own odd edges.

Remember, good enough is not good enough when it comes to the matters of the heart. You deserve someone who doesn’t just meet your standards but exceeds them, makes you want to be a better person, and loves the quirks that make you, well, you.

Don’t settle for the convenient or the available. Know your worth and accept nothing less.

[Read: 24 Sad signs of an unhealthy relationship that ruin love forever]

It’s your turn to get out there and set those higher standards. But let’s make it snappy: Raise the bar, not just your hopes!

Liked what you just read? Follow us on Instagram Facebook Twitter Pinterest and we promise, we’ll be your lucky charm to a beautiful love life. And while you’re at it, check out MIRL, a cool new social networking app that connects experts and seekers!

Preeti Tewari Serai
Preeti Serai
Preeti, the founder of LovePanky, is an eternal optimist and believer in the beauty of love and life. With an exhaustive experience in love, relationships, and ...