Dating with Standards: The Checklist

Years ago I attended a high school summer camp retreat, and one night, one of our adult leaders corralled all of us girls into a room, leaving all of the boys on the other side of a closed door. What did this top secret, girls-only discussion consist of? A single woman telling a bunch of girls, “Don’t settle.”

In telling us not to settle, she was telling us something that every girl knows subconsciously in her heart but often fails to believe because of the doubts and insecurities she faces: she is worthy. Every woman is worthy of being loved the way God made her to be loved; no woman should ever have to feel like she is giving up any of her values or beliefs in exchange for a relationship.

My favorite part of this story? The single woman who gave us this advice just got married over the summer, after finding someone she loves, who loves her in return—someone she never had to settle for.

I always find it useful to have a plan of action in case I run into a difficult situation where it’s hard to think on the spot—and talking to someone of the opposite sex can most definitely be one of those anxiety-inducing, thought-scattering situations. In order to help you keep yourself from settling for less than you deserve (whether you are a man or a woman), I have created the following checklist to use as a guide to finding a good partner:

  • Choose someone who respects you, your values, and your body.
  • Only date someone you would be proud to marry with no regrets. It’s never a good idea to play games with your heart—or someone else’s—by allowing yourself to get emotionally involved when you know it won’t and shouldn’t lead anywhere.
  • Choose someone who will be a good parent to your children, who won’t run away from commitment or responsibilities.
  • Choose someone who would rather tell the ugly truth than a pretty lie.
  • Choose someone who respects life in all stages.
  • If it feels wrong saying “yes” to someone, reevaluate your decision. If you feel unsettled and not at peace with yourself, you are probably settling. If you settle for less than you deserve, you will become your own roadblock to finding the person you are seeking.
  • Raise your standards so that only those who are worthy can make it over them.
  • Keep your standards high despite other people believing that they are too high. While it’s true that you need to remember that no one is perfect, it is also true that there are plenty of good people out there you will be passing up if you decide to settle for someone who is unworthy of you. I don’t use “unworthy” in a high and mighty manner—I use it to show how valuable you really are and to remind you that you truly are extraordinary and deserving of someone special.
  • Keep in mind that if you expect someone to be a certain way, you should expect the same of yourself. If you want someone who is strong in his or her faith, you should be strong in your faith. It’s not fair to ask someone else for something that you yourself are unwilling to give. Also, you will be more likely to attract that sort of person if you visibly show others that you have those attributes yourself, because people will take notice of them in you, and those who value those attributes could be drawn to you because of them.

Don’t be discouraged if you have a hard time finding someone who meets your standards. At times, I find myself doubting, thinking that maybe my standards are too high. But then I re-evaluate  my standards and realize that they are all reasonable and fair. It’s then that I remind myself that good things come to those who wait. Something that may help you in your search for people who meet your standards is to go places you would expect your ideal match to go and do things that you would want your ideal mate to do.

If you lower your standards, you may find yourself with someone you don’t respect and someone who doesn’t make you a better person. Even worse, they might pull you away from God. You want to find someone who pulls you closer to God and reminds you of His love. Never settle for less than that.

Veronica Dannemiller is a Psychology major who plans to become a counselor for adolescents who need a little extra love. She dreams of one day opening her own counseling clinic, where she can bring color to the worlds of teens and children who are stuck seeing the world in black and white. In her free time, she writes books (that she neglects to finish), skim-reads for the good parts of novels, and tries to teach her dog that biting is bad. Her blog, IFIBEME, can be found here.


  1. I just pray I pull anyone closer to God. Above all else. I do have room for improvement and I thank you for Chastity educational resources.

    By Laura | 4 years ago Reply
  2. I also made a similar list, but somehow I didn’t wrote the last advice from your list. Thank you, it really helps! 🙂

    By Adina | 4 years ago Reply
  3. What if prior to becoming boyfriend-girlfriend, he seemed to be very religious, but two or three years into the relationship, you find that he is not as religious as you thought. And although he doesn’t really do anything that pulls you away from God, he also doesn’t do anything to bring you closer to Him. What would you do if you were in this kind of situation? Thank you in advance. God bless!

    By Karen | 4 years ago Reply
    • I am not a relationship expert by any means (I’ve never dated, to be honest), but a relationship should never be about just a man and a woman. A relationship should always be made up of a man, a woman, and God (it’s a three-way relationship). Without God at the center of a relationship, where is the value in it? The job of a spouse is to get their marriage partner to Heaven. Think of it this way: If you truly love someone, you want what is best for them, and Heaven is the best anyone can ever get.

      Although I know that people who hold different religious beliefs than my own can still be kind, loving, wonderful people, I personally would never want to marry (and therefore would not date) them because, as a woman who is strong in my Catholic faith and who places God first, I not only want but need someone who helps me better understand God and constantly helps me become a better Catholic and a better person in general. It also hurts me inside to think of wanting to talk to someone I love about something extremely important to me – my faith – and knowing that they would not understand.

      So in the situation you have described to me, Karen, I personally would look for someone who places God as the most important person in his life and lives in a way that reflects that. You deserve that. I would suggest speaking with him about how important this matter is to you and how it concerns you that he doesn’t seem to be on fire for God the way you need him to be. If he says he is willing to try harder to draw closer to God and make him the priority in his life, I’d give him time and see if he gets serious about God and see if his faith and love for God is sincere – if it is, he may very well be a keeper. (Whether you remain a couple while waiting for him to grow closer to God is up to you and God – follow your heart and your conscience). Of course no one is perfect, but you should never have to feel like you are settling. I would advise seeking advice and feedback about him as a potential spouse from people on the outside who are not as emotionally involved, who share your faith views. They can help you get a more accurate outlook (and offer new perspectives) on the type of man they think he is. If he doesn’t get to the point where his faith inspires you to be a better person and you feel that he would listen to you when you talk about your faith and offer helpful feedback to you, then you deserve better.

      I hope that helps. I’ll be praying for you! God bless!

      By Veronica | 4 years ago Reply
    • Also remember that when you don’t grow spiritually, it’s more of a harm than a neutral spot. Think of it like rowing a boat upstream. Not to advance is to fall back.

      What I mean is that, if he isn’t really helping you to grow in your relationship with God, then he is probably hindering it. It’s probably harder to live out your faith when you are dealing with someone who is frankly kind of indifferent towards it. Yes? It’s not that he fights you about it, but he just doesn’t really care and that’s frustrating.

      Like Veronica, I’m not a relationship expert and I have never dated, but this would be the first thing that would come to my mind if one of my friends asked me this question.

      I’ll leave you to making decisions, but that’s my take on it. God bless!

      By Kate | 4 years ago Reply
    • Hi Karen,
      I have been in a relationship and faced a similar issue (though we dated for 11 months, not 2-3 years). When I first began dating this guy, he seemed really Catholic. I figured he must be into his faith if he was a Eucharistic Minister and went to a Catholic high school. However, the more I got to know him, the more I realized he wasn’t on fire with the faith like I am. The center of his life was school and swimming, not God. For months, I wanted to make it work. I was already so attached to him and truly loved him. I tried to ignore the feeling inside me that kept saying “This isn’t the guy for you. You need to break up.” Eventually, the strain was killing me: on one hand, I loved him, on the other, I was restless and anxious. I guess God finally intervened on behalf of my inaction and my boyfriend actually broke up with me. At first, I was crushed. Seriously crushed. Months later, though, I’m actually so glad I’m not with him anymore. I’ve met some amazing Catholic guys who have the same good qualities I admired in my ex, plus new good qualities. If you are feeling this same type of doubt in the pit of your heart, it might be time to have a Come-to-Jesus talk with your guy. Hope this helps!

      By Liv | 4 years ago Reply

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