Dear Dr Victoria, I am 31, single and currently on the market for a man. While I don’t have any trouble finding men, I often find them woefully inadequate when I’m in a relationship.
All of my past relationships have followed a similar pattern - me ending it. I have very high standards and expect the men in my life to behave in certain way. Before I start dating anyone seriously I tell them in advance that I’m high maintenance so they know what to expect. You see I want to be treated like a princess and at the same time live in a certain way. If they can’t deliver then I kick them to the curb. My rules are this:
1. They must behave politely, not swear, not purposely let out any sort of wind in front of me and always open the car door and pull my chair out in a restaurant.
2. They must take pride in their appearance and always look groomed and washed, clothes ironed and so on.
3. If we’re out with a group of people I don’t know I expect them to have the sensitivity to make sure I am having a good time and don’t feel uncomfortable or left out.
4. I don’t want to play second fiddle to their friends or sport, although I’m happy for them to have their own life.
5. I expect them to have ambition and work hard in whatever they choose to do, whether it’s a bus driver or company director.
6. Although I know this sounds shallow I don’t care, I want lots of compliments and expect them to make me feel as if I’m the most wonderful woman in the world.
My friends laugh at me and say I’m a bigger Diva than Mariah Carey. I say what’s wrong with standards I’m sure this is what is going to make me happy. As an expert do you think there is anything wrong in my approach? I really believe I’ve got it right for me and I’m fully prepared to wait for the right man. Or am I completely misguided and living in la la land?
Dr Victoria replies:
The first mistake you’re making is telling men you’re high maintenance. This is nothing to be proud of and for most men, the label has negative connotations. If you then labour the point, men will either not waste their time with you or just assume that you’ll be bearable for a quick fling but not for a serious relationship. There are men out there who enjoy relationships with high maintenance women but they seldom realize it and very rarely would they describe their dream woman as “high maintenance”.
I’m wondering who you’re modeling your fantasy of your perfect man on; For this is exactly what you’re creating – a fantasy that will only lead you to disappointment.
The fact is that if this perfect man does exist, what makes you think you’re going to be such a great catch with your list of demands? He will probably have women queuing up to date him. Why do you think he would find your demands so alluring? There’s nothing wrong with having high standards but your list seems rather too logical and doesn’t leave much room for fun, chemistry or feelings to come into it. The more exacting your list becomes and the less room for compromise your rules allow, the lower your chances become of meeting your match, let alone getting him to fall in love with you.
Relax a bit. Learn to enjoy meeting people from all different walks of life and try being more flexible. You don’t have to dismiss a man and banish him from your presence the moment he fails to open a car door for you. The next time you find yourself mentally putting a cross next to your checklist, ask yourself what would be the worst that could happen if you overlook a minor misdemeanor. As long as your man makes an effort in the first few months of your relationship and irons a shirt when he takes you out for dinner, does it really matter if he doesn’t have a shave at the weekend? As for compliments, it’s much healthier if your sense of self-worth comes from within rather than looking for a man to make you feel good about yourself.
If you can’t bear to get rid of your checklist you should at least try modifying it. Try to think about what is really important in a relationship. Good manners are all very well, but there are plenty of men who can pay a compliment but who have difficulty with relationships. Try thinking about the personal qualities you’d like in a partner such as a sense of humour, intelligence, generosity, kindness, moral values, integrity and honesty. These are what you should be looking for and the more superficial things should just be the icing on the cake. If your man opening car doors for you is all that important, you can always ask him to do that for you later on in the relationship but you won’t be able to change his fundamental personality traits and values. Hopefully when you start thinking about the bigger picture of what’s important in a long-term relationship, you’ll find you can overlook the odd oversight on the etiquette front.