“Can you believe that?!” This phrase has come out of my mouth on more than one occasion when my expectations and standards got conflated. In healthy dating relationships it is vital to a separate these two. Because one is born of control and blame and one is born of personal power and choice. A standard is a level of quality, something that is accepted as your norm, and generally used as a basis for your own judgment in seeking out a partner who and relationship that embodies your values and is inside the lines of your boundaries. An expectation is a strong belief that the partner and relationship you want is going to happen in the future, or a feeling that a potential partner or relationship is going to or *has to* achieve the goal or ambition you have. When we bring expectation to dating many of us have been let down...consistently. That’s because we get let down when the expectations we want aren’t fulfilled. Having standards are wildly empowering because with standards you have a choice. You can evaluate if behaviors and characteristics fall inside our outside your established value system. You can determine if you are honoring your boundaries or not. You have choice to walk away. Both expectations and standards can come with pain. But they are different types. The pain of expectations comes from wanting to control something that is out of your control. This always brings mental and emotional suffering. The pain of standards can come from a disappointment realizing a dating situation you hoped for may not work out because there are differing values. You can honor your disappointment and feel empowered by taking steps to value and care for yourself in seeking out something different that is in alignment. I consider this to be healthy. TOOL: Explore your expectations and standards by making a list of 10 things you expect in dating and relationships. Start each one with “I expect...” or “He/she/they should...” Then see if you can extract the standard that lives within you. Rewrite each expectation and start with “I value...” or “It’s important to me that...” Notice how you feel after.
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