Mike: This is Mike Hennessy. And on behalf of the team of LoveEvolveAndThrive.com, I’d like to welcome you to today’s interview with Dr. Duana Welch. Duana Welch earned her PhD in Developmental Psychology at the University of Florida Gainesville. She is the author of Love Factually: 10 Proven Steps from I Wish to I Do as well as the popular relationship blog called Love Science, which addresses advice on how the public can benefit from empirical scientific research about successful relationships. To learn more about Dr. Duana Welch, visit her website at www.LoveScienceMedia.com.
Duana Welch, welcome. It’s a pleasure to speak to you as always. And it’s going to be an interesting discussion today I think.
Dr. Duana Welch: I think so too. Thanks for having me again.
Mike: Duana, we hear quite often from our subscribers who really struggled to find good quality men in spite of them being smart, strong, and successful.
And while they’re doing their best to be hopeful and optimistic, deep down they feel that either all the good men are taken or believe men of their age desire younger women or find men who they are interested in not interested in them, and men who are interested in them not attractive to them. They are often left wondering if their standards are too high and unrealistic.
In this interview, can you help women figure out how to know if their expectations are unrealistic?
Dr. Duana Welch: Well, there’s just so much emotional baggage in this question. First of all, I want to say that all those feelings are normal. But if we let them go unchallenged, they will derail anyone’s search for love. It’s very important to have a positive attitude. And I know that it’s very difficult to do it. So I like the question because you’re asking how I can help women find out if their expectations are unrealistic.
When you have realistic expectations, you feel better about your odds on the search.
The problem is that so many women are being told that realistic expectations are in fact unrealistic expectations. They are being told that they’re being too picky when in fact, many women are not being picky enough. So it’s really kind of a matter about how you’re going about defining what you want.
In my opinion, most people’s standards are too low, not too high.
So let’s talk about how do you make a standards list?
First of all, this is probably the most important activity that I do with my clients. So you’re going to get that for free if you’re listening today.
I want you to start by making a list of every single thing that you want in a life partner.
Ignore that voice in your head or that voice from you friends or family or culture that is saying, “Oh, don’t ask for that. You’re being too picky. You want too much.” Right now, it’s the time for dreaming. It’s the time for brainstorming. I want you to write it all down.
And it helps a lot if you will use a computer rather than paper and pen simply because the computer allows you to go back and do the other aspects of the activity of reorganizing so much more easily. So first, just start by and you can pause the audio here, start by writing every single thing you would. And some of these things might be really, really important.
For example right now, it’s political season. I’m hearing a lot from men and women who are very involved in their political party and they’re wondering if it’s OK to want somebody or need someone who has their same view. And yes, of course, that’s OK.
A lot of times, your politics are your litmus test for your value system. They’re shorthand for that, so that might be really, really important to you. On the other hand, my list had kind of ridiculous things on it like love is guacamole because I love guacamole. And obviously, that wasn’t a requirement but I was dreaming. I was dreaming in color. I was dreaming big and in detail. And I encourage you to do the same thing. So that’s the first thing.
Now, I want you to go back through your list and I want to make sure that you wrote everything in a positive way.
For example, it’s not really appropriate to say, “No fat people” or “No ugly people.” That’s unappealing frankly. It’s not a positive mindset.
Additionally, your brain tends to search for what you put out.
And if the word “not” is in there, it still searches for the rest of the sentence. So if you said, “Not an alcoholic”, your brain kind of hears alcoholic.
So take whatever negative things you got on your list and make it a positive thing. For example, “Drinks socially and responsibly” or “Is a non-drinker” or “Is height-weight proportionate” or something along those lines. Make sure that you frame it in a positive way.
So having made your list and the reframed it to all be positive, now the third thing I’d like you to do is divide that list into your must-haves versus your wants.
And your must-haves are just that, these are the things that you absolutely have to have. If any one of these things was missing, even if the person were otherwise perfect, even if they had a 104 out of 105 items, if this thing were missing, it would be a total deal-breaker. So in other words, you want your must-haves to live up to a really high standard.
I remember a few women who have written to me saying that on their must-haves was the idea that the man must be 6 feet tall. Folks, that’s not a fair must-have. First of all, the national height average in the United States is about 5’9 so you’re cutting out a huge percentage of the American male population in doing that.
Second of all, this is not a character trait. That’s not an appropriate must-have. It’s an appropriate preference if you want that. But your must-haves need to be actual deal-breakers.
So, I want you to divide your list into must-haves and wants.
And then finally, evaluate whether your standards are too high, too low, or just right. And here’s how you do that.
Go through your whole list and put a check mark next to every item that basically describes who you are. So in my case, asking for someone who loves guacamole. I love guacamole. I’m asking for someone who is similar to me. If I ask for someone who is politically liberal, I’m politically liberal. I’m asking for someone who is similar to me. If I ask for someone who enjoys his career, I enjoy my career. I am asking for someone who is similar to me.
Your standards are appropriate as long as they conform to who you actually are.
Where standards become inappropriate is when you’re asking for something that doesn’t reflect who you yourself are. You can ask for what you can offer.
The final thing about your standards list is make sure that you commit to this list.
Look, there are a lot of ways to get a great list. A lot of my clients think through past relationships they’ve had and they think about, “OK, what did I like about that relationship and that person? What did I really not like about that relationship and that person?” And they make sure all of that makes it on to their list somewhere. Some of these are missed out. Some of these are really strong ones. Some of these are petty items. But they put it all on the list and they categorize it appropriately as a must-have or a want.
What they do then is they commit to their must-haves.
Every must-have is a must-have for a reason. Unfortunately, we’re taught that love is enough and that love is rare. And that if you have love, that’s all you need. And my apologies to the Beatles but love is not all you need. Don’t date sexy people who fail on any one of your must-haves. When you are dating, you are on an interview.
My readers – look, there’s a lot of advice out there for hookup culture. And I’m all in favor of people hooking up if that’s what they want. But my listeners and readers and my clients are people who have decided that that’s not what they want. They have decided they want a long term relationship. Most of them have decided that they’re ready for the relationship. They’re ready for Mr. or Ms. Right.
And in that case, dating is no longer just about having fun. It is primarily a job interview. You’re interviewing people for the most important job of your life, which is your life partner. The person you pick for your life partner has a greater impact on your happiness on a day to day level than any other choice you’re going to make.
And so for that reason, you need to make sure that when you’re on those early dates, you know enough about your list that you can recognize when someone is violating a must-have and you can move on.
Mike Hennessy: Well, thank you so much, Duana Welch. I think there’s a lot of good advice in a very short period of time. This is Mike Hennessy and on behalf of the team at LoveEvolveandThrive.com, I would like to welcome you to today’s interview with Dr. Duana Welch.
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