Expectation is a Dirty Word

We try to be good people, be kind, and polite. The corollary to this though is that we often expect others to treat us the same way. And they don’t! So we become hurt, disappointed, resentful or even worse we blame ourselves, and wonder what we did wrong rather than realizing it has nothing to do with us.

We try to be good people, be kind, and polite. The corollary to this though is that we often expect others to treat us the same way. And they don’t! So we become hurt, disappointed, resentful or even worse we blame ourselves, and wonder what we did wrong rather than realizing it has nothing to do with us.

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Expectations. We all have them. How can we not? Yet, as William Shakespeare famously said, “Expectation is the root of all heartache.”

We try to be good people, be kind, and polite. The corollary to this though is that we often expect others to treat us the same way. And they don’t! So we become hurt, disappointed, resentful or even worse we blame ourselves, and wonder what we did wrong rather than realizing it has nothing to do with us.

The dating world is full of unmet expectations.   In online dating we expect people to be honest in their profiles. We expect people to be sincere in their intentions. Once we start dating someone, we expect him or her to treat us with respect. We don’t expect someone to just disappear with no explanation after one or three or twenty dates, yet this happens. It has happened to me. If I treat someone kindly and respectfully, how can I not expect the same in return?

This is where we need to differentiate between healthy standards and expectations.

A standard is a level of quality, something that is accepted as a norm, and generally used as a basis for judgment. An expectation is a strong belief that something is going to happen in the future, or a feeling that someone or something is going to achieve something.  Where expectations give responsibility to something else, standards empower you to take ownership of what’s happening in your life.

In the dating world, I am only going to be interested in a relationship with someone who is honest, has integrity and good manners. I choose to be this way and I want to be in a relationship with someone else who also chooses to be this way. When someone lies, or disappears, they have not met my standards, and although it may hurt, at the end of the day the facts are showing that that person is not the right one for me. Not because they didn’t meet my expectations, but because they didn’t meet my standard of honesty and integrity.

In the parenting world, standards vs. integrity might look like this: I hold my children to high standards because I have raised them to value honesty, integrity and hard work, and I have attempted to provide them with every opportunity. If they don’t work hard or they lie about something, they are not meeting the standards with which they were raised. It is not about expectations.

Standards vs. expectations really are a fine line in many ways, and I still have trouble differentiating between the two. In relationships, communication is probably the key to it all. If we communicate our standards to our partners, our children or our friends than they know that this is what is required of them in our relationship. They need to do the same. If they have different standards or feel they don’t meet our standards, than they need to communicate this too. This should create a situation where nobody is failing to meet the expectations of anyone else. Of course, we don’t live in this ideal world. All we can really do is hold ourselves to the standards that we value., surround ourselves with like minded people and let the rest go. Easy, right?

If you feel you would benefit from some coaching in the area of healthy standards vs. expectations, as I know how challenging this can be, please contact me and we can chat.

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