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Where Did The Romance Go?

I am a hopeless romantic. Always have been. Love stories bring tears to my eyes. I have often been accused of being naïve about love and relationships but I really cannot help myself. I grew up reading and watching fairytale stories which probably influenced my disposition to all matters romance. Back then, romance novels like Mills & Boon were the hottest reads, literally and figuratively. Predictably, there was always a tall dark handsome character who would sweep a fair lady off her feet and they would live happily ever after. The End.

REALLY…It’s OK to have Standards.

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About a week ago one of my neighbors dropped by to see my little princess and inevitably as she “ooo-d” and “aaa-d” at the baby, she confessed that she had very serious baby fever. For those who have no clue what that means, it’s basically when a woman’s ovaries figuratively start clamoring for utilization based on the purpose that our creator intended. I laughed encouragingly and asked her what she was waiting for, urging her to join my club. This prompted a very lengthy vent session from her about all the challenges of the current dating scene and how she was finding it very difficult to meet a guy who met her – to use her own words – exceedingly high standards.

For me this was like déjà vu; it reminded me of myself about 3-4 years ago when I was still dating; no, actually trying to date and getting quite frustrated in the process. I have never believed that there is one particular right place to meet your ideal mate or one wrong place for that matter. It all depends on where both of you are in terms of readiness for commitment. For example, people always say you would never meet any one serious in a bar; however two of my close friends met in a bar (thanks to me) and are now happily married with a child. Point is, they were both ready to settle and just happened to meet as they were both out having a drink. No harm in that right? I also know people who meet in church (the most supposedly ideal place to meet a partner; allow me to have a face-palm moment) but their unions broke up faster than you could say happily ever after. I’m sure you get the gist of it.

So there I was. Determined to settle with the ideal man. (As I later learnt, therein was my problem and why I was attracting all the wrong men). I dated all varieties of potential partners and came up dry. Why? They all had one thing in common. They believed that my standards were too high and unrealistic for an actual man to meet. This perturbed me to say the least. Why? As I explained to each of them, I did not develop my standards from a steamy fiction novel, or those Mexican soaps that all the local channels are now pummeling us with. For the record, I am not a fan of those soaps but if you were born in the 70s like me (yes, I’m proud of my age and the fact that I look almost a decade younger) you know all about “No one but you” and all the girls had a not-so-secret crush on Antonio Garcia (swoon)! So just to clarify, that is not where I developed my high standards from.

Back in the day, when I had just completed high school I was just like any other teenage girl. Carefree, party going, totally unserious about life, you get the drift. I’m also a little ashamed to admit that I didn’t have much of a standard; I could go out with practically any guy. So I can relate with some of the young girls today. I would probably be pretty much the same if fate hadn’t brought into my life two men who changed the way I view men forever. The first one was my campus boyfriend. He was a gem to be quite honest; I just don’t think I appreciated it at that time. He was (and still is actually) the perfect gentleman and treated me like a lady. He was responsible and dependable and honestly, way ahead of his time in terms of maturity. He was the guy who taught me that there is distinction in how real gentlemen treat women. Unfortunately for him I was not yet ready for such serious intentions and we went our separate ways, remaining good friends.

After I finished campus and got a job, I met the second man who would impact my standards permanently. All my girlfriends actually used him as the benchmark of an ideal man. He treated women with a deference that was rare even then, and that went for all women, not just me. He believed in the traditional definition of being a man. Opening doors, pulling my seat for me, provision & protection…..he basically treated me like a queen. And spoiled me for all others in the process. Unfortunately yet again life had something different planned in the cards and eventually we split up.

Needless to say, those two men taught me something very important. That I deserved to be treated with respect. That I deserved the very best that a man could offer. That I was worth it for the man who would meet, or even surpass my standards. That it was ok to be treated like a queen – because I am a queen. That I should not settle for callous, fleeting relationships ending in disappointment. Or God forbid, one night stands. That it is ok to walk away from a man who does not treat me the way I desire to be treated. Those two men were the ones responsible for the high standards that I developed as a result of my interaction with them.

So when I was trying to date and all those other guys would mock my standards, saying that I couldn’t possibly get a man who would meet them, I would simply smile and walk away. Those poor guys never stood a chance because subconsciously, my mind and heart would never entertain being treated at a lower level than what I had become accustomed to.

After a while of seemingly meeting all the wrong men I simply decided one day to stop dating. I was rather frustrated and figured that I might as well get on with other aspects of my life instead of searching for what seemed like an impossibility at the time. So when my neighbor was complaining about how hard it is to get a decent partner, I could really relate having been there and done that. What really irked me though was how much both men and women would mock me for maintaining my high standards. It’s almost as if it was a sin to know exactly what I wanted and not to be afraid of going for it. I was actually an outcast. A dreamer. It would have been the easiest thing in the world to abandon my standards and just make do. But I stuck to my guns. Dug my heels in. I resolved that I would rather be alone than be with someone who would disappoint me.

It wasn’t easy though. I was constantly plagued by the thought that maybe I had missed my shot. I mean I had dated two great guys – what was the chance of getting a third? For a while, I was so terrified of being alone that I went out again and again with men that I would not normally have even given a second look. I had begun to buy into the narrative that there were no longer decent guys left out there. However I was never settled and my conscience constantly pricked at me; reminding me I was better than this. That’s what eventually led to me leaving the dating scene completely. I actually sat in my house for three months and this was when I started to enjoy my own company. I actually found solace in my solitude and finally got over the fear of being alone.

Ironically as fate would have it, this is also when a really great guy just appeared. Ok, that’s not entirely accurate. I had known him for a while; I just never knew he was available. And in case you’re wondering, he literally blew my standards out of the water. Thankfully, this time I was more than ready to settle down. Till today I smile at the thought of all those people who told me that there was no living human being who could meet my standards.

The point to this whole narrative is that it’s ok to have standards. And it’s perfectly ok if the bar on those standards is high. It’s ok to want more, as long as you’re realistic in what you are looking for. Your standards ought to be based on experience and facts and not on fiction or fantasy. You need to believe in your standards and not give up at the first sign of failure. Most importantly, you need to have patience and will power to wait. People with standards do not go desperately searching all over as I later learnt; they wait for the right opportunity to present itself. They are not afraid to stand out from the crowd and are often very comfortable in their solitude. They do not seek affirmation in pointless company just for sake of fitting in. And the best part is that eventually, they do get what they are seeking. They eventually end up with a person with an equally high, if not higher standard.

There is nothing more attractive than a man or woman with standards.

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