Q: I'm a disabled man. I've been divorced for over 10 years now. I would like to get married again someday, but I have my standards. I know they are high, and even my 17-year-old daughter says they are too high. I'm not looking for someone perfect. Just a pretty, physically and emotionally strong woman. She would have to work because I cannot and Social Security doesn't allow me to live comfortably. I don't know if I want more children. I'm too weak to even pick a baby up. But with the right woman...
I also have my religious standards. I was never with any woman other than my wife and have been celibate since my divorce. I would accept someone who has not had a lot of partners. How do I lower my standards without feeling like I'm just settling? -- Craig, 41
Dr. Susan: We all have standards, but some people's standards are such that they will never find a mate. If it's important to you to have intimacy in your life, consider re-phrasing your standards to focus on the most important things. Most women, if they hear that you need them to work because you're not able to live comfortably on what you have, are not going to jump into your arms. It's fine to say you aren't able to support someone else, but not that you want someone to support you. Double standard, I know.
Religious standards can get in the way, especially if you're setting guidelines about how many partners a woman can have had. What you want is fidelity now, not before you knew her. You might also loosen up your standards about how pretty she must be. You don't sound like you have a huge amount to offer a woman at this point, so keeping your standards unrealistically high is counter-productive. This may have to be a continuing conversation you have with yourself. Try not to be rigid, and spend time thinking about what you can offer.
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Advice for Her
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.