Dear Therapist: I am a single 38 year old female, and my friends tell me I am “too picky” and that “my perfect guy” does not exist. I have really high standards, which I am proud of myself for having, but is having this standard wrong or impossible? I would love to be in a serious relationship, I’m just not sure how to reset my expectations. Any advice?
Frame Therapist Elizabeth Hinkle weighs in…
It sounds like you're proud of your standards for a relationship, and it makes sense that those are important to you. You are the only one who can decide if those are reasonable or not. What does "too picky," and "perfect" mean? You and your friends could define those differently.
Some compromise on what they want to avoid being single or feeling lonely. Our culture generally tends to place more emphasis on being in relationships and doesn't always validate singles. One question you could check in with yourself is: Do you value keeping your standards and expectations versus being in a relationship with someone where you may compromise what you really want?
While it may not be possible to have every expectation met in your next relationship, it is reasonable to hold those expectations if you're willing to wait and be more selective. One approach to managing or reprioritizing your expectations is to make a list and decide which ones are non-negotiable or deal-breakers - perhaps the ones that are important but not essential could be put in a separate category. You deserve to find the person who meets your needs and provides you with a relationship that adds joy and pleasure to your life.
About the author: Elizabeth Hinkle is a licensed marriage and family therapist, licensed in Virginia, Kansas, and Washington, and has a telehealth private practice, MH Matters, LLC. Elizabeth sees individual clients of all ages as well as couples. She uses a systemic perspective, blending training as a marriage & family therapist with Internal Family Systems, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, and a bit of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. To learn more, or get in touch, visit Elizabeth's Frame profile here.
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