Having a few dealbreakers in a relationship doesn't make you a bad person. But when your criteria for a partner includes politics, height requirements, and a particular degree level, it's possible you've taken the checklist a bit too far. The signs your expectations are too high are sometimes hard to catch, but are crucial to look out for if you're looking for something more serious.
While experts agree that it's totally viable to look for someone who shares your religious background or desire not to have kids, the mentality that you know exactly what your future partner will be like can get in your way. "I counsel my clients to have criteria for the relationship, rather than the person," Amy McManus, licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Bustle. "Some of the important relationship criteria are: Is it honest, loving, supportive, interesting, and healthy? Are you able to discuss and work out issues about spending money, having [and] raising children, and having differences of opinion?"
While your expectations may be getting in your way, it's critical to remind yourself that you are in no way a lost cause. A little perspective-readjusting can help. "I always remind people to consider the same [things] about themselves, whether they would be disappointed if someone didn’t want to date them over an inch of height or a year of age or where you attended college," Lori Salkin, SawYouAtSinai.com senior matchmaker and dating coach, tells Bustle. But it can be complicated to pinpoint exactly what's holding you back in the first place.
Here are nine signs you might have too high of expectations that are preventing you from finding your soulmate (just yet).
1. You Aren't Checking In With Yourself First
Obviously, you don't need to change anything about yourself to find love, but some soul-searching never hurts. "At the end of the day I encourage my clients who are looking for love to know themselves, know their values and know relationship patterns that are signs of red flags as opposed to automatic dealbreakers," Naphtali Roberts, licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Bustle. "The more an individual becomes clearer on who and what they value the more I notice their list of dealbreakers become shorter and less rigid."
Once you learn to be forgiving and open with yourself, you can start to unpack your expectations of a partner. "A sign that one's expectations for a future mate are too high can be found by looking in the mirror. No, by not what you look like but how you 'see' yourself," Eileen Purdy, master of social work and anxiety therapist, tells Bustle. You might realize you need to cut yourself (and others) some slack.
2. You're Looking For Quick Fix For Your Problems
If you're looking for a relationship that will solve all your problems, you're not going to find it.
"[People with too high of expectations] believe that once they find their soulmate they won't experience conflict, pain or discomfort in relationships ever again," Roberts says. While that sounds amazing, it's not realistic. In fact, some fighting, if done constructively is actually good for your relationship and helps you solve problems that will arise.
3. You Look For Certain Physical Characteristics
If you think you know how your future soulmate is going to (or "has to") look, you're probably not thinking about the situation in the most healthy way possible. "Your expectations for a future mate can be unrealistic if you think they must have certain physical characteristics in order for you to be attracted to them. You might surprise yourself if you stay open about this," McManus says.
When describing your ideal partner's looks, you might feel that you know best based on your past experiences. But really, love and connections don't work that way. "[People describe what] they believe they are attracted to and [that] often causes them to miss others they have chemistry with that don't meet their check list," says Roberts.
It's one thing to not feel attracted to someone but if you're automatically ruling out someone based on a physical characteristic, that's probably not a good sign. So next time you think you should rule someone out because they don't fit your "type," try going out with them anyways, it and see how it feels.
4. You Have A Whole Checklist They Have To Meet
While there may be some criteria you genuinely need in a partner or a relationship, compiling a checklist in your head is probably going to do more harm than good.
"When clients have trouble finding the right person, they almost always have a 'checklist mentality' about dating," David Bennet, counselor and relationship expert at Double Trust Dating, tells Bustle. "They view finding a partner logically, like they are building a computer. The problem is that connecting to another person is deeper and more complex than just checking off ten qualities you want in somebody. The right person may not meet every 'checkmark,' and someone could meet every 'requirement' and be a dud."
Have you ever done the math about single people in your city and freaked yourself out? Well, it sucks, but statistically your "checklist" partner might not even be out there. "What a lot of people don't realize is that the ideal partner may barely even exist," says Bennett.
Think, instead, about if they're kind, or share your values. "If someone makes you feel good, then why does it matter if they are an inch too short, or don't have a college degree?" asks Bennett. Asking too much of someone isn't going to pave the way for the perfect relationship.
5. You Are Judging Others' Relationship Histories
When it comes to finding a new partner, do not allow their past relationship history dictate whether or not you pursue them, unless it's filled with some major red flags, like infidelity or abuse. But if they don't meet your requirements of having a certain number of past relationships, then this might be something you'll want to move past.
"[Don't judge by] relationship history, [i.e. they] should have never been married before, should have had this many previous partners. needs to have lived with someone before, etc" says Roberts. You wouldn't want someone doing the same thing to you.
6. You Constantly Drop People After The First Date
Another sign your expectations might be too high is if you never seem to let anyone past the first date. "Sometimes you should give a second date if the first is neutral," Salkin says. "On first dates you are strangers and often nervous and can be flustered by elements out of their control ... If you have a neutral first date and cannot find anything truly 'off' then I recommend giving people second chances so that you can have a full chance to get to know someone."
It boils down to this: how can you know if someone is a good fit if you're not getting to know them? "If you are serious about meeting a life partner you should take the chance to actually meet with someone and try to get to know them," Laura Bilotta, dating coach and matchmaker at Single In The City tells Bustle. This means riding the wave of awkward first dates, and forgiving people for not expertly navigating the dance for the check.
7. You Don't Allow Your Partner To Make Mistakes
Again, this goes back to the "looking in the mirror" concept. If you're already in a relationship, take note if your expectations of your partner are too high. It wouldn't feel good if your partner bailed the first time you messed up, so you probably shouldn't do that to them if the mistake was innocent.
"[Try to avoid] a one strike and you're out rule," Roberts says. "Any rule or dealbreaker which doesn't allow an individual to make mistakes as the relationship develops is too specific (this is mistakes in areas that aren't safety-related)." As difficult as it may sound, a mature relationship will have more gray-area. "Seeing things from only one perspective creates the potential for the foundation of chronic disappointments," Dr. Danielle Forshee, doctor of psychology and licensed clinical social worker, tells Bustle. Learning to forgive and communicate effectively should make things a bit easier.
8. You Get Rid Of People You Like
If you are looking back on your past few relationships and they all seem like they could have been great, it's possible you're pushing people away for the wrong reasons.
"The best sign your expectations are too high is that you're constantly getting rid of people you actually like," Bennet says. Your joy around and chemistry with a partner might be worth more in the long run than you realize (even if they don't have a four-year degree and a car).
9. You Expect Them To Behave In A Very Specific Way
Your partner isn't going to behave exactly how you want them to. That's because they're a person, not a Sim, and it's actually a good thing.
"You can’t expect that your partner sees things the way that you do," Dr. Forshee says. Plus, don't expect a partner to delete a dating app within a certain period of time, follow you on social media immediately, or make the relationship official by a set date. "These are all examples of behaviors that we all have our own beliefs about. We can’t expect that other individuals have the same beliefs that we have or that they attach meaning to these behaviors in the exact same way as you do," says Dr. Forshee. Something that means a lot to you might not mean as much to them. And if you're feeling like their behavior really is an issue, just ask.
In the end, there's no magic change you can make that will manifest your "soulmate." But you can keep track of your expectations, and make sure that they're paving the way for something happy and loving.