A woman made headlines in Australia this week after suing a dating company for setting her up with a man who didn't fit all her criteria – he wasn't six feet tall.
The lawsuit has sparked controversy online about what women should – and shouldn't – expect as part of their dating criteria. Good husband? Yes. Loving and caring? Yes. Specific height requirements? Not so much.
When most people think of settling, they often think of dating someone beneath them. Maybe it's looks, maybe it's money, maybe it's even a generally unsatisfying relationship. But settling also happens when we date a guy who fits our superficial standards but doesn't have a lot to offer besides that.
We Forget Which Standards Are the Most Important
When I was in high school, my friends and I made lists of what we were looking for in a boyfriend. The lists were a little unrealistic as our ideal guy was either Zac Efron, one of the Jonas Brothers, or a professional athlete. Though the lists included that we would want guys who treated us well, that was lower down on the list than superficial traits like good looks, height, or muscles.
This can be attributed to being young, for we all realized that we let more attractive guys get away with toxic behavior when we started dating. These guys weren’t exactly Prince Charming, but we lowered our standards because they were attractive. I wish I could say this is a habit that I left behind in my teen years, but it also lasted through my early twenties.
If you lower your standards, you start to settle for less than you deserve.
Life coach Tess Brigham says, “Your standards are core personal beliefs such as how you want your significant other to treat you and your family. These are the things that you should keep high. If you lower your standards, you start to settle for less than you deserve. Expectations, however, are the more superficial things, such as height, weight, job, and family size.”
We tend to focus on the more superficial standards like how tall he is or how hot he is over what’s more important, like how he treats you or whether or not you share mutual values. When I was in college, I met a guy who checked all of the physical boxes. He was just the right height for me, and his eyes made me weak in the knees, and he knew he was attractive.
To nobody’s surprise, none of my friends liked him and were quick to point out red flags that I ignored. They listened to me cry over him and were annoyed when I was texting him again three days later. I did this because I was young and immature, but also because I thought the superficial standards mattered more than the actually important ones. In short, his superficial qualities made me lower my standards for how I knew I deserved to be treated. I was naïve to think that he’d be a good person because he was good-looking. It’s a mistake that most young women make, meaning that we need to acknowledge that there’s a difference between Mr. Right and Mr. Perfect – because Mr. Perfect doesn’t exist.
Reality Check: Nobody’s Perfect, But That Doesn’t Mean You're Settling
When my friends and I made our Mr. Right lists in high school, we were actually describing Mr. Perfect. The problem with Mr. Perfect is that he doesn’t exist. Nobody’s perfect, not even Kate Middleton. Though we often accept this reality for ourselves, it can be easy to forget that the guys we date aren’t perfect either.
If you’re looking for Mr. Perfect instead of Mr. Right, you’re going to feel like you’re settling because Mr. Perfect doesn’t exist. Nobody is going to check all of our boxes. Since we see superficial qualities first, it’s easy to let that blind us to toxic traits. I’m not saying that attraction doesn’t matter because it does, but Mr. Right is going to be both attractive and have good character.
Mr. Right is going to be both attractive and have good character.
So how do you begin to combat the tendency to hold every man you date against your perfect fantasy?
1. Stop looking for perfection.
Remember that you yourself are far from perfect. We all have flaws, physical and emotional, that make us human. We must be willing to accept a certain number of flaws in any partner because that's just part of life.
2. Realize that perfection makes for a boring life.
Part of the fun of finding a great partner (and hopefully, future husband) is growing up together. If he's already perfect when you meet him, there's no change or growth to enjoy with him. We should strive to improve ourselves in our relationship, and that implies a certain level of imperfection. It's actually a good thing!
3. Stop overvaluing other options.
Dating app culture makes it easy to believe that there are infinite – and better – options out there. But this is an illusion. Just because a guy looks cute on Tinder doesn't mean he's husband material. It's hard to feel satisfied about your current boyfriend when the infinite options online are calling your name. Remember that no one person will give you every single thing you want, and what you have in real life is infinitely better than the fantasy of someone who may or may not really exist.
So How Can We Find Mr. Right?
We need to try our best to get to know someone before getting serious with them and see if their values and life goals are simpatico with ours. Don’t brush toxic traits under the rug because of how he looks, and acknowledge that there’s no such thing as perfection, but throw away your standards.
Get to know someone before getting serious and see if their values and life goals are simpatico with yours.
Accept that whoever you choose to spend your life with will be imperfect just like you are. Embrace the idea that your imperfections will make your life together an adventure, rather than focusing in on them and losing sight of the full picture. The second you accept that there’s no such thing as Mr. Perfect, it’s easier to find Mr. Right.
You deserve a man who gives you butterflies when he smiles and treats you the way you deserve to be treated. If anything is settling, it’s dating a hot guy who doesn’t treat you the way you deserve to be treated.
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