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Matchmaker Says: (Sensible) Standard Deviations

We asked our matchmakers: should we advise singletons to "adjust" their standards in the search for love...

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  1. College educated, preferably Ivy League

  2. Family oriented

  3. Loves dogs

  4. No children from a previous marriage

  5. No previous marriage, period. 

  6. Full head of hair

  7. Over 5’8”

  8. Under 6’3”

  9. Funny, but not always cracking jokes.

  10. Energetic, but likes to stay in too. 

  11. Silly, but can be serious.

  12. Likes Seinfeld, but doesn’t love Seinfeld. 
     

OK, OK…we all have standards. You know, that checklist of “musts” that any potential romantic partner should meet to make it past the first date. For some, this list is short. For others, it is 6 pages long in Times New Roman, 12 point font, with .2 margin space.

Wherever you fall in the spectrum, perhaps you’ve wondered: “Is this the best approach to take?” @36SingleFemale was told to adjust her standards, and she wanted to know if we agreed.


Obviously, it’s difficult to assess @36SingleFemale’s exact situation with a tweet as our only data point, but this is an incredibly oft-asked question that has been itching for some matchmaker guidance — and we’re here to give it to you.

Valerie Presley Ackler, Heartalytics Editor

We asked our matchmakers: should we advise singletons to “adjust” their standards in the search for love? 
 

Matchmaker Dorothy Stover makes an important distinction to kick off the conversation:

Standards are different than expectations. You should adjust standards as you grow and change in life (we all hopefully grow and change). An example of a standard is the value you assign to how someone treats you (i.e. he opens the car door and I want a romantic partner who possesses this level of gentlemanly behavior).

Expectations are often the root of what makes people unhappy. We expect someone to be someone they are not. We have an expectation of how our lives will be or the timeline something will play out. There’s a saying: “Man plans and God laughs.” Rarely anything turns out as expected. But that’s the gift of life. The journey. The surprises in store. And honestly, what we think we want is usually not what we need.

Transforming expectations into standards is a healthy practice.

Replace: “I want someone tall,” with “I want to feel like a woman when I am with him.” If you can do this, you’ll be happier with whom you’re attracting because you’re getting the soul level attraction and not the superficial physical.

Let’s take education level as another example of this. Expectation: I will only date someone who went to an Ivy League school. Standard transformation: I want to love talking to each other and engage in conversation easily. Being able to talk about anything, from current events to other subjects of interest, matters to me.

Just because someone went to an Ivy League school doesn’t mean they can hold a conversation with you and meet the standard you just transformed from an expectation. Hell, it doesn’t even mean they will actually be intelligent. I know some people that have gone to Ivy League schools who are not the brightest crayons in the box. I know others that have dropped out or never went to school who are intelligent, successful and very well informed.

If you trust and believe your matchmaker has your best interest at heart, then also trust they are working in your favor. The happiest couples love and honor each other for their souls. Not because they look a certain way or because of how much money they make. Looks change, money changes.

The short answer: No, don’t change your standards, adjust your expectations.

Matchmaker Shayna McDonough says:

I love this question. The same advice has been offered to me personally and I have always wondered… why is it that everyone else happy in love got to have what they wanted, but I’m supposed to “adjust my standards” or “lower my expectations.” As a new matchmaker on the flip side of this coin, I have had the opportunity to see this concept from a different angle.

Now I look at standards and preferences from more of a mathematical perspective than a personal one. Like, we can’t help who we find attractive or what qualities excite us about a man or a woman. We can’t help that we might want things in the opposite sex that we ourselves can’t bring to the table. For example, a 44 year old man (let’s call him Bob) can’t help that he is most often attracted to 33 year old women… and an average looking girl that might be a little out of shape (let’s all her Sue) can’t help that she is most turned on by fit hotties. We can’t just switch-off our real, genuine desires because we are not having any luck meeting and connecting with our “ideal” mates. We can’t just pretend that something other than what we want truly excites us.

However, what we can do is evaluate the market place of men and women that meet our preferences and determine if that type of person wants to actually date people like us. It’s really about being honest with yourself and accepting that sometimes what you want, may not want you. Not to say it will never happen, but if it hasn’t happened yet, it could be that you don’t exactly jazz them the way they jazz you. Or, the man or woman you most want is the person that is least compatible with what you need to be happy.

Thinking this way enables you to stay true to your feelings and desires but also helps you consider what you need to be truly happy. What desirable characteristics of the 33 year old might “Bob” also find in a 38 or 40 year old woman? Perhaps the 40 year old also wants kids like he does or maybe she is super active in the exact way that he previously assumed only a 33 year old woman could be. What qualities does the the tall, fit, hottie possess that “Sue” might also find in an average looking man who rocks a sexy swag, killer personality and a sense of humor that puts her in stitches..?

It’s simply about coming to terms with the fact that “the numbers” are what they are. The guy or gal we seek might not be where we are geographically or might not be seeking us back. In which case we can consider the idea that a different, more available version of our ideal (that actually wants us too), might surprise us and give us exactly what we are looking for.

Matchmaker Alyssa Bunn adds:

Standards are great as long as they are reciprocated. 

So many times, people want a laundry list from their partner. Qualities and characteristics that they do not have or would never provide in a relationship. We often want someone who is ‘complete’ but are forgetting that we, ourselves, are still a work in progress. Let’s face it – we’re all works in progress!

Shayna agrees: 

Right on Alyssa!

Tawkify Member Services professional, Aletheia Celio, weighs in from the client-selection side of the matchmaking trade:

I’m sure the Matchmakers will have greater insight into this, but one person I talked to about becoming a client comes to mind. Her preferences were so specific in every area that I unfortunately had to tell her we couldn’t take her on as a client.

I keep thinking of her and wondering why she was so narrow-minded in who she was looking for. She was a young, beautiful doctor, who seemed to have a really close friend/family circle. She was firm about her standards (all of them). He had to be a very specific age and could not have been married before (“if he’s been married before there is baggage, if he hasn’t been married but is older then what’s wrong with him?!”). He had to be in a certain profession and make significantly more money than her (“if he makes the same as me but I’m having kids then our responsibilities will be out of balance”). He had to be her exact ethnicity and religion (she’d had one bad date with someone of a different ethnicity and was determined to never date someone outside of her ethnicity again).

I believe that she was trying to protect herself from any hurt that could possibly come up… and by closing all those doors and locking them up, she ended up closing herself up in a little tiny protective box.

So the twitter version of my advice would be…

Standards are great as long as they’re based on love and not fear.
 

Matchmaker Corinne Dobbas concludes:

Great question! Standards are OK, but the ability to open your mind is much more valuable in the pursuit of love. And perhaps even more important than having an open mind is whether or not you actually understand the underlying “need” beneath your standards.

Must the man be six feet tall? If so, WHY? Often, we don’t look deep enough to understand ourselves. Perhaps you don’t really need the height, what you’re looking for is security and comfort, which is great (but a person doesn’t need to be 6 feet tall to provide that).

So the point is, radically challenge your standards.

Understand WHY they’re important to you, and then allow yourself to be open. Because in all honesty, love doesn’t blossom from a checklist. If you go into a date with all these immovable standards, you give off an energy that likely no one wants to be around. You attract what you put out there and when you’re open and loving and having fun, you are fun and that’s groovy.

With love, 

Your Tawkify Matchmakers

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