Are Your Standards Too High?

If we have anything in common, I bet you’ve dumped someone for bad reasons. Me? I’ve passed up plenty of partners. I once dumped a guy because he didn’t know what a CV was. I’m not proud of that. Okay, I’m kind of proud. I still can’t decide if that was a bad move or not. After all, he wanted to be a professor. I tried to date him for a couple of weeks. But every time we went out, I kept seeing this Sherlock-style text above his head that read, “Has no future.” So I stopped returning his calls.

A couple of years later I did something similar, with a guy who wanted to be a historian but couldn’t pass Latin. Maybe If I had a soul, I would’ve stuck with him. But that was kind of a deal breaker. I couldn’t get through a date without wondering if he would ever retake the course. Besides, anyone who has failed a course falls below my standards. I can’t tolerate that level of incompetence, and it has no place in my life. On that note, also make sure I don’t see you lose a video game. That’s a huge turnoff. If you think I’m bad, I was worse in high school. I wouldn’t date anything below a 9.3. Why a .3? Because we all know that people can drop a quarter of a point if they’ve just woken up, or look tired, or just eaten. I needed someone who could stay in the 9-zone no matter the time of day. My senior year, I also dumped a guy because he used different fonts in his poetry. That’s just ridiculous. How can you take someone seriously when they pull that shit?

Certain words have also triggered me to end relationships. I don’t mean the usual suspects like moist or panties. I’ve preemptively killed a flirtation when a guy uses the word deep, spiritual, or self-discovery. Let’s add diametric to that list as well. Want your date to “use the bathroom” and never come back? Use the word diametric. It’s one of the most useless words in the English language, and serves no other purpose than to warn me how pretentious you are. So, actually, let’s keep that. It does have at least one use. Those words uttered during serious conversation make me go into convulsions. How many times have I been talking with cute guys at bars, and they throw out a word like that? Too many. I usually excuse myself to refill my drink, and go hide with my friends. Oh, and don’t forget supposebly and for all intensive purposes. If I catch a guy dropping those into small talk, I’ll never look at him the same way again. I’m not a complete bitch, though. I’ll forgive mispronunciations and subject-verb agreement issues.

Other reasons I’ve failed to pursue relationships:

  1. He didn’t understand the plot to Slaughter-House Five. It’s very simple. Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time. Right there on the first page. You don’t have to like the book, but the concept’s not hard.
  2. He called himself an avid reader, but he’d never read Marquez.
  3. He ordered me an e-x-presso.
  4. He recommended a book not in a friendly way, but in that way that makes it feel like some kind of test. Like I’m somehow less of a person until I’ve read your favorite book by Chuck Palahniuk.
  5. Number three, but with a music album.
  6. He got offended by nudity in movies. Oh, I’m so sorry that hot brunette showed you her tits in an R-rated film. Do you need a therapist now? I can see how topless Kate Beckinsale might’ve detracted from the otherwise deep and spiritual dimensions of the script. Are you for real, or are you just trying to impress me by expressing your disgust at the presence of the female form? Because you’re not doing that.
  7. He brought a guitar to our first date. Seriously, you’re going to do that instead of talk to me? You probably want compliments too. Listen, you’re not Chris Cornell.
  8. He only had a part-time job because he wanted to write screenplays. I’m not going to wind up paying half the rent and your cell phone bill why you constantly ask me to read your scripts. Okay?
  9. He lied about his age. One time, a guy lied to me about his age by a good 8 years. Said he was 27, but he was 35. The sad thing? I probably would’ve dated him, but the lying killed his chances. It wasn’t even about trust, it was about awkwardness. He felt like a creep, so he overcompensated and became even creepier.
  10. He wanted to start a family and then go to law school. In other words, he wanted to impregnate me and then make me stay home with the kid. Not gonna happen.

Finally, I’ve tried dating hot guys without brains. I’ve seen that go so wrong on so many TV shows, I should’ve known better. The main reason is that they couldn’t hang with my friends. Or have conversation. On the flip side, being smart and funny can bring you up from a 6 to an 8. Seriously, have you seen Jim Gaffigan’s wife?

My whole life, I’ve worked to adjust my standards. It’s a miracle I’ve fucked as many people as I have, and wound up in a stable longterm relationship.

Some of my friends have the opposite problem. They’ve lowered their standards too much. Let me tell you about one of my roommates in graduate school. Her name was Jenny. She dated well beneath her. She eventually became a professor, but kept trying to date guys who worked at Wal-Mart. One of her dates actually came to a party with a new handgun he wanted to show off. I’m serious, he passed it around and we were all like, “That’s real cool, Tom. So could you put that back in the car?” Later I asked her, “Do you really think he’s right for you?”

“I’m not sure,” she said, “but he’s better than nothing!”

He left her 4 times over the course of a year. The Tom-phase left her in low spirits, to the point she started meeting guys online she didn’t even like.

One time she told me about a high school physics teacher she’d met on Match.com. She looked at me with a sad smile and said, “So, would you date a guy you weren’t physically attracted to?”

I shook my head. “That’s just a bad idea. Eventually, he’s going to find out you don’t want his penis in you.”

She nodded. “Because when he kissed me, I did feel sick to my stomach. And he’s not a very good dresser. He wears sandals all the time. But he makes me feel pretty! I like talking to him.”

Poor girl. She might deserve her own special blog post later. Anyway, the point is that some people live on either end of the spectrum and our life’s struggle is forcing ourselves into the middle somewhere. I think I’ve managed to do that. The perfect partner simply doesn’t exist. You’ve seen the show Catfish.

Conversely, I’ve been dumped for petty reasons as well. My relationships ended mainly because of my Asperger’s: inability to compromise, lack of a smile, irritability, failed sense of humor. Seriously, in my early 20s I wasn’t funny at all. Even my friends would break down and tell me how exhausting and annoying I could get at times. One guy gave me this breakup speech: “I just can’t figure out what it is. You’re great on paper. Attractive, smart, goal-driven, mature. But hanging out with you just…isn’t much fun sometimes.” Another guy told me, “There’s just something missing, some piece of you that’s never there.”

What’s the lesson here? I’ve learned the difference between high standards and ridiculous ones. I’m not going to bore you with a list or some fortune-cookie advice. Just consider this: When you catch yourself thinking, he’d be great except for this one thing…proceed carefully. How important is it? If your partner is only missing one or two things, then you should probably look at yourself first and see if you can adjust. Love isn’t perfect. It’s always a compromise. You have to accept some things you don’t like about someone in order to love them. Your partner will simply bug you sometimes, for no reason. Especially if you prefer solitude the way I do. When my partner’s bugging me, it usually has nothing to do with him. It’s a problem with me.

 

 

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