Dating: Is It Time To Raise The Bar?

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I learned how to high to raise the bar by lowering it.

I never knew how low I lowered the bar until several years later. In the beginning of my relationship, there was much uncertainty. I felt kindness and respect the majority of the time. Yet sometimes there were inconsistencies, communication fails, which I confronted. As time passed, lack of awareness of what to expect eventually became my new operating system. It became a new normal, one where my expectations, my bar, had been lowered.

I censored my words and behaviors to adapt, to try and prevent conflict, to keep myself safe from harm. For example, normally I would be excited about going to a party. But I learned that this meant my partner would hit on other women and drink to excess. This made me feel upset and fearful for my safety getting home. My confrontations were met with lack of understanding and the disrespectful behaviors were repeated. My problem solving tactics were not working to resolve the conflicts and dysfunction so I changed my mind; I excused myself from the partnership.

Because of this experience, I have fantastically shrewd observation skills, affording me the ability to make assessments and decisions quickly.

I possess an innately heightened sense of urgency. In a crisis, where pieces of information are still unfolding and there is ambiguity, I can extract what we DO know and what we CAN do and get it done right NOW. I remembered what I learned. But did I forget to raise the bar back up? And if yes, then how high does it need to be? What does it need to clear for a healthy partnership? If you are dating in 2015, here are some points for you and Prince Charming below.

Level 1: Confidence.

You: In a previous post I offered 5 ways to bring out the sexy in you. When you are feeling and acting self-assured, you automatically raise the bar for those around you. Confidence also can mean getting as close as you can to mastering a skill. If someone told me to go run sprints or a tempo run or a fartlek or complete dynamic warm-up moves or ensure I have negative splits on race day, it would be simps – this is second nature to me after years of middle school and high school cross country and track, not to mention several other races as an adult. Find out what you are awesome at and keep doing it!

Prince Charming: Look for parallel conviction and mastery of something in the company you keep.

Level 2: Health.

You: Take pride in your vocational, physical, residential, and mental health. Shine up your resume. Tidy up your home. Read a book and discuss it with friends (aka Boost Your Life With Book Club). If you don’t already, you will start feeling (humbly) proud of your job, your body, your space, your possessions, and your thoughts. Here are 7 ways to help you get back on track if you are feeling “off” or would like some ideas to help you get started.

Prince Charming: Gauge your new partner’s overall “life” healthiness. Does it align with yours? Do you practice similar habits?

Level 3: Trust.

If you are in denial and ignoring “red flags” then you are not trustworthy yourself. Trust yourself, then trust others until you are given a reason not to. It sounds simple. It sounds cliché. But trustworthiness either runs like a gushing current through your relationship or it does not. Unfortunately for Jamie Dornan fans, there aren’t shades of grey here.

Prince Charming: If he is asking you to forgive him, does that make him trustworthy? Are jewelry and flowers attempts to mask unacceptable circumstances or behavior?

Level 4: Alignment.

You and Prince Charming: Congratulations, you have reached level 4!

Time to compare values, aspirations, dreams, life plans with each other. The stronger the alignment, the better the bond.

How do you raise the bar? Tell us! @mscareergirl

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Kelly Christiansen

A top columnist at MsCareerGirl, marketing guru Kelly Christiansen has 10+ years of strategic leadership experience and is a Senior Marketing Strategist on the Health Care team at Kahler Slater, an architecture firm in Wisconsin. An avid reader, runner, and recipe experimenter, you can follow Kelly on twitter @kellymc247

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