Dumped by someone below your standards

When you first meet someone and are deciding whether to see each other again, whether you want to or not, you consciously or unconsciously size each other up. In addition to deciding if you’re attracted to the other, you assess if you are in the same league as the other.

This league can be physical — there have been numerous studies that show people couple with others in the same relative attractiveness levels — with some obvious exceptions. Power and money (although some would say that money is power) is an exception. Thus the hot young woman with the not-so-attractive powerful/rich man. (Could be young, hot man with powerful/rich woman, but we don’t see that quite as much.)

Other elements of this league dynamic — in addition to looks and money/power — could be education, power without wealth (think politician), or fame.

When you decide to date someone you perceive as being a step or two below your league, you’ve found other characteristics that make it OK in your mind. You have lowered your standards in some area(s) because you think he has enough other attributes to mitigate where he doesn’t measure up.

So when — gasp — he breaks up with you, not only does it sting (nearly every break up stings, even if you’ve already decided to break up with him!), but you’re  incredulous. “Really?” you think, “He has the audacity to break up with me? I lowered my standards to date him!” You’ve not only been rejected, but by someone you made an exception for!

Of course, you never told him you lowered your standards, but there’s a good chance he felt it. Maybe it was a look, or your occasional tone of voice, or perhaps an unconscious condescending comment. He knew you thought you were better than him. He could feel it. It might have been a big part of why he broke up with you. It gave him some satisfaction to put you in your place. And it stung less for him to break up with you than to let you have the upper hand by breaking up with him.

Or maybe — horrors — he thought he was lowering his standards to be with you!

So what to do? Should you never modify your standards? I think it depends on what they are. I’ve made exceptions to my “need to have” list and gotten to know some interesting men. I’ve also continued to date men who I knew were missing some basic elements I find critical. I think it’s important to be conscious of when you are making an exception, and then notice how you feel about that. Does he have other overriding attributes that make him exceptional?

What about you — have you ever dated someone who you felt wasn’t really at your same level? Did it get in the way of the relationship, or did you find it didn’t really matter? And if you were the one who was dumped, how did you deal with it?


Dating Over 40: Moving On GracefullyGet more insights into what can happen with breakups with your copy of Moving On Gracefully: Break Up Without Heartache.


3 responses to “Dumped by someone below your standards”

  1. Cathy Severson Avatar

    In looking around at our friends, all of them relatively long-term marriages, all of the wives are more educated than their husbands. They didn’t or don’t necessarily make more money. I’m sure we’ve attracted like minded couples, but still this one element intrigues me.

  2. Layla Howard Avatar
    Layla Howard

    If we allow ourselves or even consider dating someone who we believe is below our standards, then we must have seen or felt something special for this person. However, if he decides to end the relationship, although he is below your standards, the heartaches it will bring you will be over the top. Not only that you got hurt because he left you, whatever the reason is, but also, he has caused damage to your ego. I know that’s harder to take but it will pass even before you know it. Next time you bumped onto him or think about him, it will all be just a comic thing in the past.

  3. Megan Avatar

    I have in fact been dumped quite a few times, because of what I am. they have never given me a chance to prove anything to them at all. Sometimes I am angrier at my meddling family for getting in the way of my love life also. I met this guy back in August, sure he was so cute and a wonderful kisser, but I felt like he ripped my heart out of my chest and flung it across the room. I like him so much, I still do, but I’m ready to move on to find someone new.