Anyone who knows me knows I’m a HUGE Seinfeld buff. I was watching the episode “The Fix-Up” and the following conversation gave me an idea:
Cynthia: “There’s just no one out there, you know? The problem is the good ones know they’re good. They know they’re in such demand they’re not interested in confining themselves to just one person...The mediocre ones are available but they’re so insecure about not being one of the good ones that they’re always going, “I’m not good enough for you; what are you doing with me?” and eventually I just go... ‘you’re right.’”
Elaine: “Maybe you need someone between good and mediocre?”
Cynthia: “No, maybe I need somebody who has nothing, somebody who just has to appreciate being with me ‘cause he’s so desperate.”
This scene reminds me of how we think about standards. Jerry Seinfeld alone in his titular series was the king of petty standards. His reasons for dumping women and moving on to the next could fill volumes. If you’re not familiar, here are a few examples:
“She eats her peas one at a time.”
“She’s too good.”
“She has man hands.”
Though I, along with countless others, find the show hilarious, it was considered an exaggerated version of dating and standards; however, with the advent of online dating which allows anyone and everyone to become inundated with new options at the swipe of a finger, these arbitrary Seinfeld-esque standards are becoming more and more accurate and less and less exaggerated.
Standards are not reserved for dating alone. Petty or otherwise.
We can set standards in several areas of our lives including ourselves, our colleagues, family, etc. If you find yourself lacking the caliber of people you would like to be surrounded with perhaps a look at your standards for yourself and others would be a good start.
First, develop a set of standards for yourself, you can discover these by journaling:
What is my ideal day? What is my ideal life? What are my passions? What do I need to do in order to accomplish these things?
How do I want to be treated? How do I want to feel around others? How have I been treating others? How would I want them to feel around me? How can I alter my current behavior to reflect these values?
What are my uncompromisable values? What are my deal breakers for others? What are my deal breakers for myself?
Second, consider what type of people you envision for your life that will create a balance between you feeling supported enough to accomplish your goals but also where you feel free enough to encourage and empower others. Instead of using on-the-fly standards like the cast of Seinfeld I recommend being intentional about your standards and expectations of others.
You may need a certain amount of verbiage to begin with when you’re listing expectations.
Example: Instead of confining others to specifics such as, “they should have a bachelor’s degree;” try being more flexible like: “they should be a good conversationalist,” or, “intelligent enough to be self aware and aware of the world around them so they can be open but also secure in their opinions.”
However, if you do have strong preferences in certain areas, maybe boundaries within these traditional accomplishments would be necessary. If that’s the case you may find areas in which you can be flexible. In order to start:
Make a list of things you care deeply about.
Rank those from most important to least.
Circle your top three that you need from others. Make note of the areas in which your standards can be flexible.
Here are a few basic topics you could care about and set up standards surrounding:
Intangibles: honesty, respect, reciprocates effort, family-oriented, etc.
Lastly, think about your environment as a whole. Make a list of the type of situations you would prefer to participate, this can include your employment, the city in which you live, and events you attend. Again, it's all about envisioning and being specific yet flexible in your standards
As you work through this post and take your time answering these questions for yourself you will begin to really define your ideal life.
I love to hear about your journey, feel free to reach me by e-mail!