Over the years, women all around the world, especially those sisters in church, have been encouraged by friends, ministers, public figures and people of influence (usually happily married or unhappily divorced), to keep their standards of self and the requirements for a ‘good enough’ bae high. Very high! It sounds a lot like this:

“Men are chasers. You can’t make it easy for them. You have to give them something to pursue”,“Be a woman of value”, or “Keep your standards high so he will have something to aspire to.”

However, many women who have attempted to establish these high standards in their dating lives have quickly found out the reality of those standards… Ain’t no reasonable man be trying to slide up in their dms EVER! These women now face a new dilemma – stiff criticism from the same men, friends and whoever else telling them flatly – Your standards are way too high! It sounds like this:

“You’re intimidating men”, “You come across too high-maintenance”, “You will never find a man that meets all the points on your checklist”, “Don’t ask about his convictions on sex-before-marriage on the first date, you’ll scare him off!”, “Ever thought about maybe lowering your standards alittle?”

Oh, the irony!

So what is a self-respecting, purpose- driven, ‘don’t want no mess in my life but really would love a good relationship’ kind-of woman supposed to do? What is she to make of this apparent lose-lose predicament of having high standards for potential boyfriends but no real prospects willing to take her on?

She says: High standards only work for some women but it won’t work for me.
Some women have given up completely on this notion of standards, let alone high standards, convinced that the era of noble gentlemen has long passed with the idyllic fields of Jane Austen novels.

She says: Since the situation is hopeless, the least I can do is have alittle fun, right?
The result is women having subconsciously surrendered themselves to the depths of settling, willing to aggressively capture their career but passively allow the next cute guy that smiles at them to get some goodies*.
(Goodies could mean sex or the emotional benefits of a relationship without actually being in one.)

She says: This is the real world. 21st century men are only looking to have a good time at the expense of my heart and resources while nimbly dodging the slightest hint of ‘commitment’.
The prospects for marriage have become so ‘grim’ that more and more women are investing in freezing their eggs and checking out donor clinics as an act of preserving any opportunity to have children if they are not wed or in serious relationship by the age of 35. Others make sure to have their trustee sex toys near to hand, to relieve themselves when there is no lover who can. Many beat themselves up emotionally, gorging on so-called self-help and quack ‘3 steps to get a man’ advice columns that tend to suggest the onus is largely on the woman to make herself into a real life, sexually experimental, male-fantasy in hopes of getting the relationship she wants because everyone knows that if you don’t want to have sex with yourself then no one else will want to either!  *eyes rolling*

I hear you ladies. It is tough out-in-these-single-streets but maybe I can offer another perspective on those standards. Before you order a new ‘personal toy’, give over to a life of meaningless-flings or a reckless ‘rat-boxy’, hear me out.

High standards won’t get you a man! Period! Yea, I  said it!

If they did, more of us would be booed-up by now. No matter how ‘noble’ they are, if your standards are not your convictions (the things you personally feel strongly about) then there is no-way you or anyone else will take those standards seriously. High standards are important but they are a means to an end. The end is the woman who carries herself as a standard bearer for what she believes in and is willing to safe-guard her heart at all costs. Which, when we think about it, is much more significant. The purpose of a standard is not to be the bait on the end of a fishing line, helping you hook a man. Rather, a good standard will help you establish your own worth to yourself and others; i.e. less for drawing him in and more for setting you apart. Seeing yourself as valuable can determine what kind of situations (or misters) you allow into your heart and that puts the ball squarely in your court for choosing who can approach you.

Didn’t see that one coming right? Neither did I.

When I was growing up, my Mathematics lessons teacher often gave life lessons in the middle of class. It was a welcomed break from the rigors of trigonometry but this time he got caught on a tangent that literally stuck with me to this day.

“Young ladies, guard your hearts.”

Ofcourse, his mini lecture carried more details but that one sentence branded me. I had never heard that before.  A part of me always felt that that was a man’s job. I mean, that’s what fairy tales propagated anyway. “Man is the protector,” isn’t that what society says? So why was he telling me to guard my own heart?

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)

Oh… right!

Contrary to popular belief, your heart is your business. No one else. The only person more interested in your heart than you, is God. This is because our hearts hold ideas, opinions, emotions and free will. From our hearts we act out how we feel about ourselves, people, and the world around us. And what we do, says alot about what we got going on in our hearts. So if you think there is no hope for you romantically, then that’s exactly how you will act and that’s exactly the kind of bitter results you will get. It’s only when I got older that I truly understood how important it is for a woman (and men) to actively guard her heart like her quality of life depended on it; because in a lot of ways, it does!

A big part of guarding your heart is addressing what is already in it. Some people call this soul-searching or heart-checking, which is the process one takes to unpack and examine the things that are currently stumbling blocks or cornerstones in the walls of their heart. Investing time to gain clarity about why we function the way we do and then experience real healing from the wounds in our past can assist in laying a stable foundation for Love to rest on.

Have you ever asked yourself any of these questions:
What is my concept of love and relationship and where did I get it from?
Why do I want a relationship?
Do I even know what I want out of a relationship?
Do I possess the qualities I value most?
Am I emotionally, mentally and physically ready to engage in a romantic relationship? Why yes or why no?
Is it a relationship that I want or is it a better me that I want?

If not, definitely take the time to do so! This is not an exhaustive list and the questions can touch ever aspect of life to ensure a better grasp of self. I’d encourage you to seek out a good counselor who can help you through this exercise.

Starting with YOU is a good way to identify what really matters and what you feel most strongly about. Once you come to a place where you are clear and comfortable with who you are and what you want, then the option to settle will drift into the background. Your standards will become a part of you.

Being honest with yourself first allows you to be authentic in the presence of others without feeling like you have to hide or change to capture his heart. A happy, balanced ‘you’ is IMPORTANT and beautiful. If his eyes can’t see that, then keep moving.

Acting out in frustration is one way to deal with the dilemma but you do have choices. One is the chance to improve your concept of ‘you’ from a holistic perspective. You won’t guard what you don’t think is important and maybe that is why so many of us ladies have allowed despair to set in and skew our idea of relationships and men.We have lost sight of how valuable we actually are.

I know we all would love to find the perfect guy but he really doesn’t exist pass the ink on our checklist. We’ve gone as far as trying to make a guy into what we want or putting up with who he is because we see potential. Both of those attempts are futile! But the good news is that you can receive a different result if you pay attention to one variable… YOU! Before you drop the standard, try being the standard for your own sake. #JCMD


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