How to Set Standards in a Relationship
Updated: Jan 10
Did you know that there are 4 areas to look at when considering who to date? Here's how to set standards in a relationship.
Are my standards too high?
If you're single: Have you ever wondered why nobody seems to be meeting your standards? Do you ask yourself if people are afraid of dating you or even just approaching you? Are you getting things wrong with how you are setting standards in a relationship?
If you're with someone: Do you think you have reaosonable expectations and standards in a relationship?
It's time that we address exactly HOW TO SET STANDARDS IN A RELATIONSHIP. Let us guide you as you set high but reachable standards when it comes to dating and relationships. It's not really so much "lowering" them, but we will help you do some revisiting and rearranging of your standards to make them humanly-possible to reach.
We will cover 4 aspects, based on the book Boundaries in Dating...and we will give you a FREE RELATIONSHIP STANDARDS WORKSHEET at the end of this post.
How to Set Standards in a Relationship--Four Areas to Consider!
1. Negotiables - "Nice to Have"
There are preferences that we have that limit our list of potential partners plainly because they are that--too limiting. Are your standards too high in a relationship? In some cases they may be too high and limiting. For example:
1. Having preferences that are nearly impossible to achieve by a human being
Do you want a careerwoman who's also a good stay-at-home mom who'd be home at 4 pm everyday? Do you want someone cold and strong but also soft-hearted? Do you want someone who loves hiking, loves reading books, loves playing musical instruments, loves volunteering, loves taking care of kids, loves cooking and baking, loves math, AND loves arts and crafts? While some people are able to juggle a lot of good interests - make sure that you're not expecting TOO MUCH from your potential partner.
2. Being too "stuck" with one's tastes
It's good to have preferences, as all of us have different tastes -- but STAY OPEN AND FLEXIBLE. Surprises happen! We often easily dismiss people just because they're "not our type"--she's too thin, he's too fat, she's too smart, he likes rock music. Be more open and adaptable especially if this is on something shallow like physical appearance or personality types.
As you start this quest on how to set standards in a relationship, make sure that your preferences remain just that -- things that you "prefer", which means that they are negotiable. And make sure as well that your preferences are not stemming from internal issues (e.g. a desire for older men because of 'daddy' issues, a desire for 'bad boys' or 'bad girls' because of fear to face one's own sinfulness). You may soon find out that your preferences may not be so good for you after all.
If you have an existing list, take a look at your list and move your negotiables / "nice to haves" to a separate list. You can also use our FREE RELATIONSHIP STANDARDS WORKSHEET at the end of this post.
2. Non-Negotiables - "Must-Have"
At the other end of the spectrum, there are preferences that are IMPORTANT . These are things that should not be taken likely as they can seriously impact your life and your partner's. Yes, as you understand how to set standards in relationships, you need to make sure this takes top priority. They can be in these areas:
1. Common Interests
You cannot expect that you will like the same things ALL THE TIME--that would be boring--but you and your partner should at least have things that you both enjoy. This will allow you to have experiences that you'd like to share together. If you have completely opposing interests, then you're in for a life of having to "change who you are" just to meet his/her interests or you may end up not spending so much time together.
2. Common Goals
Are you running the same race? It's not just how you spend your free time that we want to assess, but more so, how you will spend your entire life. Do you both want kids? Do you both want to spend a good amount of time serving God? If there is a desire for one to pursue further studies, and the other wants to stop working and stay at home -- how will you manage that? People often say that when you get coupled up, you become a team. It will totally suck if you're not on the same side as your teammate.
3. Common Values
Is he/she bearing the fruit of the Spirit? Well, you both should ideally be :) Don't take this matter lightly because one's values are a good indication of the kind of person they are and the kind of person they're likely to become (without intervention). Does family matter to him/her? If they don't care about their own family, it might be unreasonable to expect them to be so devoted to yours. What's their perspective on sex? Will they support you and help you live a life in alignment with God's will, or will it be the opposite?
Make sure that you look into these three areas--and give utmost value to them! Don't give in to the tendency to just "copy" your partner's interests, goals and values. You have to be honest with yourself and with him about these things 'cause they form part of who you are, and 'cause they DO MATTER!
PS: If you don't know your interests, goals, and values yet -- then you're someone who doesn't know yourself and you have no business pursuing a relationship yet.
If you have an existing list, make sure that it has your non-negotiables / "must haves". You can also use our FREE RELATIONSHIP STANDARDS WORKSHEET at the end of this post.
3. Minor Imperfections - Can Tolerate
No one is perfect! You are planning to date a sinner (just like you) so it is expected that there will be some quirks and shortcomings. As you're figuring out how to set standards in a relationship, there are things that we can tolerate and live with in mild doses--and if there is an intent, effort, and ability to improve. Some examples would be:
Having difficulty to open up
Naturally assertive/pushy behavior
Mild forms of other things
Again, everyone has imperfections. Make sure that you don't make too big of a fuss about things that may annoy you but won't really kill you. Especially if the other party is owning their wrongdoings and making an effort to change. To be honest, your standards are just too high if you're expecting perfection in a relationship.
If you have an existing list that has "no-no's", make sure that you move to the right (or put separately) those that are tolerable. You can also use our FREE RELATIONSHIP STANDARDS WORKSHEET at the end of this post.
4. Major Imperfections - Not At All
While there are imperfections that may be tolerable and just be "yellow flags", there are some sins that are completely "red flags" -- meaning you have to STOP. Not all sins are of the same weight in terms of their impact--imagine, is being disorganized in the same category as having affair?
Do not tolerate destructive personal traits! They will either hurt you or make the relationship a terrible one to be in. This is another part that you should never forget as you practice how to set standards in a relationship! Some examples include:
Lying instead of telling of the truth
Excessive exertion of control (including physical matters)
Being stagnant and not growing
Being a negative influence
Being overly jealous
Negating and disregarding pain
And many more!
King David in Psalm 101:2-8 talks about his own "not at all" standards for the people in his palace, and that may inspire you to choose carefully the characteristics to avoid. This is part of figuring out your non-negotiables in a relationship!
Take note that as you are expecting OTHER PEOPLE not to be this way--you'd want to start off with assessing yourself if you may be the toxic and destructive one.
If you have an existing list, make sure that it has your list of things that you will not tolerate at all. You can also use our FREE RELATIONSHIP STANDARDS WORKSHEET at the end of this post.