Establish high standards


Dear Elana,

I’m a 24-year-old Jewish guy, and I’ve never had a serious girlfriend. I’ve dated girls, but never for more than a couple of months. I’ve never been in love, met a girl’s parents or celebrated an anniversary. I’m seeing someone now, but I don’t feel chemistry with her. I feel stuck; the girls whom I’m interested in don’t like me, and I’m not attracted to the girls who do like me. It seems like my only options are to remain single (which I don’t want), or to be in a relationship with someone I’m not that excited about. What do you recommend?

– Seeking True, Affectionate, Lasting Love Every Day


One of the issues I come across most often in my coaching practice is settling. That is, dating someone who doesn’t make your heart skip a beat, but whom you date because you don’t think you can do any better. I see this most often with men, but women do it too. Here’s why it’s a bad idea, and why you deserve to find your match.

You have probably heard of people being rated by numbers. A gorgeous model is a 10, a real shtunk is a 1. But the thing to remember is that these numbers are subjective. Your 6 is another guy’s 10, and your 10 is someone else’s 6.

The same is true of your number. One person might see you as a 4 and someone else might see you as a 9. You owe it to yourself to avoid dating the people who diminish your value, and to only give your heart to the people who admire and cherish you.

Few of us grow up believing that we need to have low standards. Something happens in our adolescence or adulthood that wounds our egos and diminishes our self-confidence. We experience some form of rejection and don’t want to get hurt again. It feels safer to date someone beneath us, someone who will be grateful to get hitched to us. But there’s a problem with this logic. Just because we perceive our partners as being lower status does not mean they see themselves that way. A “low-status” partner is not more likely to adore you than a high-status partner.

Here’s why: If you see your girlfriend as a 6, you will treat her like a 6, and she will have little incentive to stay. Then, when you’re kicked to the curb you tell yourself, “I can’t even keep a 6, I better lower my standards to a 4.”

That’s a recipe for unhappiness. You would be much better off shooting for an 8, 9 or 10 next time, because you will treat this new prospect with love, respect and admiration – and that will hold her interest. Now, let’s clarify what it means to attract a 10.

Before you go prancing off into La La Land and chasing Natalie Portman, make sure that your high standard is your deepest, most authentic desire. Are a fit waistline, firm skin and stylish outfits the traits that elevate someone in your book? Are they the qualities that will bring you meaningful, profound satisfaction for decades to come? Probably not. So, let’s take a moment to figure out what a 10 really looks like for you.

Start by identifying the qualities that you really want and that you honestly value. Create a list of 10 to 20 items that absolutely make you swoon, the ones that you wouldn’t want to live without. This list will be different for everyone, however it is likely to include qualities such as intelligence, emotional stability, honesty and loyalty. Are creativity, athleticism, sense of humor, and Jewish values on your list? What about lifestyle, sense of adventure, financial responsibility and value in education? Determine the most important qualities that you look for in a mate and write them down.

Now, you have a succinct list of the qualities that would make a person compatible with you, a really good fit for the long haul. If you meet someone who is OK, but who doesn’t quite meet your standards, don’t get involved. Really. You don’t have to settle.

While dating may be fun and silly, love is a serious business, especially when you are thinking about creating a life with someone. You want to make sure that your better half lives up to the title. Settling leads to disappointment and regret. Hold out for that astonishing person who will captivate you, who will understand how you feel through thick and thin, and who will be your best friend. That person is out there and is looking for you.

Elana Hunter is a dating coach and psychotherapist who is passionate about helping singles find love. Learn how coaching can help you find romance and companionship at

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