“Men Respect Standards,” Says Steve Harvey

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Act Like A Lady Think Like A Man" by Steve Harvey. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Why do men respect standards? How can you set your standards upfront without scaring him away?

According to Steve Harvey in his book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, men respect women who set standards. He says that you should feed the standards to him like a parent giving a child cough syrup, sweet-flavored and in a cute bottle.

Continue on to learn why Steve Harvey says men respect standards and how to set them early on in a relationship.

Why Do Men Respect Standards?

Up to now, you’ve been encouraged to set standards and expectations for your man several times. But what are those standards, how are you supposed to set them, and why do men care? Because men respect standards.

You can’t expect a man to know everything about what women want, let alone what you want, in relationships. All women are not the same, and what they desire from a man is not the same. If you want your man to understand what’s important to you and what he needs to do or not do to make your relationship work, you need to tell him. 

Setting your standards up front does two things. First, you give a man the opportunity to understand what it will take to be with you and decide whether he is capable of complying. If he isn’t, he will move on to someone with fewer standards. This sounds counterproductive, but a man who can’t or won’t live up to your expectations is not the man you want. Finding this out before the second date is better than after you’re emotionally invested. 

But if he’s willing and able to comply with your requirements, you have achieved the second benefit of setting standards up front—you’ve given him a blueprint for how to win your heart and keep it. Now he understands how he needs to behave in a relationship with you if he is serious about pursuing something long term. 

How to Set Your Standards

The way you approach setting your standards is as important as the standards themselves. You need to be considerate about how you relay this information. You’re not going to impress him if you pull out a laundry list of dos and don’ts with an attitude. But if you’re clever and provide this information organically as part of the conversation, he’s going to read between the lines and pay attention to learn more. 

Think of conveying your standards like giving cough syrup to a child. If you go straight for the adult-brand medicinal-flavored syrup, your man will screw up his face and turn away. But if you offer up the strawberry-flavored syrup that comes in a cute bottle, he’ll have an easier time swallowing it. 

There’s another reason why providing your standards in a palatable way is important. When you slip your requirements in as expressions of what you do and don’t respect in a man, you make room for him to have agency in his actions. A man still wants to feel like a man, even when he’s abiding by your standards. He doesn’t want to feel like a child who’ll be punished if he does the wrong thing. And you want your man to have agency so you can see what he’s willing to do on his own to make you happy

Think about the following examples:

  • You tell your new man you love roses, movies on Saturday night, and brunch on Sundays. For the first two months, you get roses, Saturday night movies, and Sunday brunch. You’re happy at first, but things start to feel routine, and you wish he’d mix it up. He’s happy because he’s doing what you said you wanted, but as you become bored or unhappy, he becomes frustrated because he thinks he’s done enough. He doesn’t know what else to do and stops trying. 
  • Now, consider the alternative. You tell your new man you love the smell of fresh flowers, date nights on Saturday, and leisure activities on Sunday mornings. Now your man has some direction and will take the initiative to keep it fresh. The flowers will vary, as will the activities you do on date night. You’ll wake up Sundays wondering what your man has planned for your relaxing day together. And when he sees his efforts are working, he’ll wo`

One way to achieve the balance between conveying your standards and giving you man room to be creative is by stating what you respect, rather than what you demand.

  • Rather than, “You need to always be on time,” consider saying, “Life is busy, am I right? That’s why I’m always respectful of people’s time by showing up when I say I will. And if I can’t, I always call to let them know.” A man will hear, “Being on time is a priority for her, as are manners and consideration for others.”
  • Rather than, “You need to be about me and only me,” consider saying, “I like to be honest with a man I’m seeing. If I want to date other people, I tell him so he can make an informed decision about us.” A man will hear, “She requires honesty and is open to discussing the parameters of our relationship.”
  • Rather than, “You need to be able to help raise my kids and provide for us,” consider saying, “I take parenting seriously and try to provide as best as I can for my kids, and I’m hoping a good man will respect that and add something positive to our lives.” A man hears, “She’s a good mother who knows how to take care of her family on her own, and if I can be a good husband and father, she’ll appreciate my contribution.”

A man who wants to love you wants valuable insight into how to treat you right and be a man you respect. You both know your requirements have been understood, and if he doesn’t make the effort to live by them, you both know he’s not the one for you. 

What Are Your Standards?

Before a man can hope to learn what you require in a relationship, you need to know what you require. Use the questions below as a starting point for what you look for in a man and relationship.

  • What characteristics are important in a man? Stability, a sense of humor, generosity?
  • What do you want a man to do to win your affection? Call you regularly, spend three or more nights a week with you, pay for dinner, buy you gifts?
  • What type of relationship do you want? Exclusive, open, casual? Are you willing to work it out together?
  • Does his income matter? Does he need to be wealthy? Does he need a certain type of job?
  • Is having children important to you?
  • Does he need to be religious? Is it better if he’s not?
  • Can he be divorced or have kids by another woman?
  • Are you willing to support his goals and plans for the future?
  • Is a good relationship with his family important? Is it okay if he doesn’t get along with his family? What about your family?

When you know the answers to these questions, you know what sort of man you’re looking for. Be clear about these things upfront by finessing them into casual conversation, and you and your potential man will know whether you two are a good fit.

“Men Respect Standards,” Says Steve Harvey

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  • How to navigate the adult dating scene
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Hannah Aster

Hannah graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English and double minors in Professional Writing and Creative Writing. She grew up reading books like Harry Potter and His Dark Materials and has always carried a passion for fiction. However, Hannah transitioned to non-fiction writing when she started her travel website in 2018 and now enjoys sharing travel guides and trying to inspire others to see the world.

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