(reprinted from The Huffington Post.)
When it comes to relationships, we all have our standards. Standards are those ethical principles that we navigate our lives by. They are a kind of personal code by which we make choices, decisions and intentions. Fundamentally, they are the ideals that we hold dearest to our hearts. They are essential personal covenants that shape how we live our lives, determine what’s important to us, and effectively direct our motivation and direction. Our standards are foundational to every single thing we do.
The thing about standards, though, is everyone’s are different! By holding ourselves to our standards, we cannot help but hold others to them too. But because everyone has slightly — or radically — different ones, we can get in trouble when we try to impose our standards onto someone else.
In a relationship, congruous standards are important. It is said that the single most important component that allows a relationship to last is similar philosophy. Our standards are based on our philosophies. They are corresponding and interconnected. Everything else can be different between a couple: where we come from, how much money we have, the color of our skin, our ages, our interests, but if our standards are in conflict, then there will eventually be philosophical differences that can become an immense obstacle to sustaining the relationship.
This is why couples often find natural compatibility with a partner that comes from a similar religious faith, or from the same country, or even neighborhood! Where we come from influences and shape our standards. We are often naturally attracted to someone who inherently harmonizes with these standards…
Or, we can be attracted to the opposite.
If we are with someone who has different standards, and especially lower ones than ours, it can be very destructive. It can bring out the worst in us, instead of the best of us. If the discrepancy is great, it can turn out to be a match not made in heaven. This can do a lot of damage to our confidence and erode those things we hold paramount. If we start to doubt our own standards and lower them, each individual, and the relationship itself, will slowly be degraded. We can begin to doubt our core beliefs and values, and gradually, eventually, like the way water must flow downhill, our standards will devolve.
You never want to step down to someone’s lower standards. A standard is an ideal, something that we reach for and aspire to. And if our standards are lessened because we are afraid to hold them up, then the relationship will suffer for lack of principle, and lack of depth. It will feel empty.
The good news is that we can evoke a higher standard from our partner. When we hold our standard up, they get to step up to it — or step out of it. Don’t let anyone stem your spirit or your higher knowing. By holding to your higher standard, everyone will be better for it. When we hold to our standards we are actually offering our partner an opportunity to grow. By raising the bar in a relationship we all grow. By lowering our standards, we are diminished.
Diana Lang is a spiritual teacher and author of OPENING TO MEDITATION — www.DianaLang.com Follow Diana Lang on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Diana Lang