Have you ever asked yourself, “Why does she only date ex-convicts and scumbags?” Or, “Why does he keep dating drug addicts and harlots?” To be honest, there is a whole host of possible reasons why people aim low (beyond the scope of any blog post ever written). However, it generally comes down to fear, judgment and self-esteem (or lack thereof) and it’s all about feelings.
Being “Better Than” Someone Feels Good
If you are more responsible, healthy, organized or experienced; you make more money or own more shiny objects; if you have more friends or can qualify yourself as “better than” your partner by any metric, then it’s easy to feel good about yourself. You bring something to the table. You’ll have qualities your partner will admire. You might feel powerful, helpful, even needed (which you may equate with love). Either which way, it’s quite lovely.
Being “Less Than” Someone Feels Bad
If you are less responsible, healthy, organized or experienced; you make less money or drive a hoopty; if you have less friends or can qualify yourself as “less than” your partner by any metric, then it’s easy to feel bad about yourself. You may constantly compare yourself and feel not good enough, unloveable or undeserving. Even if your partner reassures you how wonderful you are, it may still be hard to believe. What a terrible experience (this is one reason why people self-sabotage their relationships, by the way).
Being “Equal To” Someone Feels Risky!
Without enough self-esteem or personal ballast to know your own worth without comparing yourself to others, forging a relationship with an equal partner can be terrifying. What if they are better than you? What if you aren’t good enough for them? You can’t keep up your A-game forever and those skeletons will eventually come a tumblin’ out the closet. What then??? Maybe they’ll leave you! Nooooo!!!
Aiming Low Feels Like the Safest Bet
Vulnerability, transparency and authenticity can feel so uncertain, and risking it all for love takes tremendous courage. Most people crave certainty and security, and aiming low is an effective way to ensure that you have them. Like quitting your job and becoming homeless to ensure that you spend more time outdoors – no one can argue the effectiveness of that strategy. So aiming low is effective, but is it healthy? Is it safe? Is it really what you want? Let’s analyze the possibilities:
If You Aim Low and the Relationship Fails: you can blame it on “that loser” and escape with your self-esteem intact. Yayyy! Unfortunately, this could go on forever – never finding real love.
If You Aim Low and the Relationship Doesn’t Fail: well… now you’re married to a loser. Good job.
Hence, aiming low feels safe but is also the worst thing you can do for yourself. Aiming low is not a strategy for success; it seems pretty self-evident, but many people just can’t break the habit (see Why People Stay Stuck). There’s gotta be a better way. #FixYourPicker