Why Your Standards Are So Low

            Over the past few weeks, I have started to notice a pattern in the type of man that I find myself attracted to; I like my men banterous, and I like them mean. However, this preference is not a conscious one; I am not actively looking for a “bad boy.” On the contrary, I consciously want a guy who is nice to me. A nice boy would be so refreshing!

            Initially, as I reflected on the men I have been attracted to, I started to think that I simply have bad taste in men. The more I thought about my bad taste, the more I realized the real issue: how I perceive the ways that these men act in my head is entirely different from the way they act in real life. For example, if a guy acts with basic kindness towards me, I perceive it as something that deserved to be praised. In real life, the same basic act of kindness is probably perceived as something that should be expected in any interaction between any two people. On the other hand, when one of these men acts towards me with less than basic kindness, I do not perceive this as unacceptable behavior. Rather, I consider it more of a normal occurrence. I have made excuses for the unacceptable behavior of the men that I like too many times, and I have applauded their basic kindness too many times.  

            Seriously, Cecily, when a boy holds the door for you or asks you how your exam went it does not mean he deserves to be praised like a god. You should expect this basic kindness from other human beings because you are a human being, just as deserving of basic kindness as everyone else. 

            Since contemplating my own standards, I have noticed that many women’s standards for men and their behavior have fallen ridiculously low lately, especially in a college context. The other day, my friend told me how attracted she was to a boy on the hockey team after watching him separate his napkins and silverware into the appropriate sections when clearing his plate in the dining hall. This is a basic expectation of all students. Her excitement of such a basic behavior is telling of how low women’s expectations of men have fallen. 

            I started to wonder why women’s standards were so low. After struggling for a bit, I remembered what I was taught throughout elementary school: when a boy is mean to you, it means he likes you. I definitely believe that, in elementary school at least, this proved true. If a boy pulled on your pigtails in third grade, he probably did like you and just didn’t know how to show it. Bad behavior like this is understandable for boys in elementary school who don’t yet know how to communicate or understand their emotions, especially when it comes to emotions surrounding girls. However, I am concerned about the long-term effects on boys and girls that this saying has. Girls grow up learning that a boy being mean to them is okay and even a good thing because it means that he likes them. On the other hand, boys grow up having their inappropriate behavior accepted and validated. 

            In elementary school, innocent teasing of girls is acceptable to an extent. However, this teasing becomes an issue as boys age. A line needs to be drawn between elementary situations in which this treatment of girls is innocent and okay, and real, mature situations in which this treatment can be harmful. I think that this treatment should end in middle school. This is the time when both boys and girl mature into individuals who can communicate their thoughts and feelings to each other. In middle school, boys should be taught that being respectful and kind is how to express to a girl that he likes and appreciates her.