Setting standards without coming across aggressive

You don’t want to be treated like a doormat. You’ve been taken advantage of in the past and it ended badly. You know you should be treated with respect.

But then someone you really likes comes along and you either:

  • Scare them off with (passive) aggressive messages

  • Get walked all over, all over again

Where does that fine line between setting your standards and not pushing the guy away come?

The secret: it lies in the communication

Important note before I tell you how: a lot of your “standards” come from the very treatment you haven’t received in the past. Whether from exes/past flings, your parents or your friends. Therefore they often come with a lot of associated pain - and your subconscious is very scared of experiencing that pain again.

This is what leads you to hold back OR lash out. The fear of that pain. Both are protection mechanisms.

So, it’s a great idea to make sure you’ve worked through the pain from the past to release that fear. But even just knowing that it is there will enable you to stop, take a breath and reassess a situation.

Assess which standards are really important to you

Everyone has different standards. Don’t be swayed into thinking you need to set standards that simply aren’t that important to you.

If you really don’t care whether you’re bought flowers, why make a fuss about it?

But, if it really matters to you that someone wishes you goodnight before bed, then that’s a standard that is important for you to set.

Work out your fundamental standards that you’re not prepared to compromise on, and those that you don’t mind so much about.

Think about how the message will be received

Think about the vibes you want to give out to the other person - you want to come across as your most fun, feminine and flirty self. Suddenly chiming in with “This behaviour is disrespectful of my time and I deserve better” doesn’t exactly scream “we’d have so much fun in a relationship together”. It implies: I’m going to be hard work and you better behave yourself. Not what most guys are attracted to.

But “Owh, I wish you’d let me know earlier, I could have worn my cute new yoga outfit to a class instead ;) ” says “I have other ways to spend my time, and I look great while I’m living it”. It implies: I’m sad not to see you and looking after myself is important to me. Something guys will lap up.

I don’t mean to be anti-feminist here, but I’m telling you how it is. Guys are looking for someone fun, attractive and who makes them feel good. If you’re sending a message that is potentially making them feel bad, you need to be very careful about how you phrase it.

Make your point gently, and see how they respond to it

Many people make the mistake of holding things in (often carrying them over from relationship to relationship) and then exploding.

If the last guy you dated cancelled on you five times in a row and you didn’t say anything, you could end up exploding the first time a new guy genuinely has to rearrange a date.

So take a few deep breaths, let go of the past and think about what is really important to you. Then express it softly and in a way shows what you would like him to do differently.

And never, never bring the behaviour of an ex into things, that is not this guy’s problem. Unfortunately, it’s yours!

So, if your standard is not to be cancelled on last minute try:

I love knowing our plans in advance, so I can plan what to wear/go to the gym in the morning/make sure I’ve not filled myself up on snacks. It means a lot to me and then you get me in my best outfit/with a toned bottom/craving a burger mode”.

Or, if your standard is to be messaged every evening:

I missed it when you didn’t wish me goodnight, I love receiving those messages

Then see. Don’t expect perfection overnight, but notice whether he made some effort to listen and do things differently.

Encourage when your standard is met, rather than point out when it’s not

This is a game changer that you can take into your relationship for years and years to come.

Positive encouragement of things done is way more effective than “nagging” about things that are not done.

Every guy likes to feel like a hero. Make him feel like one when he’s treated you the way you want to be treated and you’ll find him doing it again, willingly and enthusiastically!

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Katherine Winny

Dating & Relationship Coach

Equus Coach

Hypnotherapist

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

London, United Kingdom

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