Standards vs. Expectations

Sunday, Sep. 16th 2012 11:53 PM

We have some big things underway. Frank’s first book, How to Gracefully Exit a Relationship, will be released very soon. We are currently implementing the book’s promotional strategy; and we are excited about getting the book to shelves soon. We are also preparing to go live with our first episode of Frank Relationships, our radio talk show. As we implement these new initiatives, the blogs may taper from the regular Monday at 1pm release schedule. And we will not be producing any more video-blogs in the near future. But, not to worry. We are still working to bring our supporters new perspectives on understanding and acceptance in relationships. Look for big things from Frank Love, and tell us what you think as they unfold.

Traditional relationship wisdom tells women to set standards. That men respect standards. But, the truth is that everyone has and respects standards. Admittedly, knowing yourself and what you want can be Powerful and attractive. But unless the object of your interest is a mind-reader, you may benefit from communicating your expectations, or risk losing a great opportunity.

For the sake of this discussion, I am going to differentiate between the terms standards and expectations (though they are often used interchangeably). For our purposes, standards will refer to how you conduct yourself and expectations will refer to how you want other people to act.

Using this definition, a man’s standards for himself might be that he will pay for dates, or that he will only call a woman twice, and if she doesn’t respond, he’ll stop attempting to reach her. A woman’s standards might be that she will not have sex on the first date, or that she’ll always take money for a cab ride home, just in case she doesn’t feel comfortable riding with her date. These are behaviors that we expect from ourselves.

Expectations refer to the behavior we want from others. For example, a woman might have the expectation that a man will open the car door for her or call continuously if he is interested, while a man might have the expectation that a woman will have sex with him after a certain number of dates; or call him back if she’s interested.

When dating, if two people’s standards and expectations align on a particular point (like who should pay for the meal), there’s no issue. But when they conflict, problems or misunderstandings can arise.

This is where communication can be of great importance. Let’s say a woman expects men to open the car door for her, but her date doesn’t. She could decide that he doesn’t respect women, and then pout the whole way home. Or she could simply say, “I really like it when a man opens the door for me.” She might find out that he stopped doing it because his last girlfriend hated it, or that he just hadn’t thought about it, but would happily do so.

Admittedly, how a person deals with the information you provide about your expectations will give you valuable insight into his/her standards, and how much he/she is interested in connecting with you. And, pouting is a way of communicating, but it is not always effective. In the example above, I would have dropped her off at home, and never looked back.

Years ago, I went out for ice cream with a woman, and we both seemed to enjoy the evening. Afterwards, we talked on the phone a few times, but whenever I asked about seeing her again, she said, “I don’t know.” Yet, she continued to seem interested. I assumed that she expected men to continually pursue her. However, my standard for myself, which was I wouldn’t play the hard-to-get game, seemingly conflicted with her expectation of me. So, as soon as I believed that I was playing a game that didn’t interest me, I told her I wouldn’t be calling again. I also let her know, that if she wanted to see me, she could call me, and we would figure it out from there. I was fine with my decision and moved on. She eventually called me, and we started dating.

Keep in mind, expectations do not guarantee that we will get the results we want. And left unchecked, they can result in our own hurt feelings and loneliness. Barring those that could have detrimental effects if compromised, like safety issues, I invite you to be flexible. Allow your expectations to be guidelines and food for conversation, rather than hard-and-fast rules. Temper them with good judgment, compassion, and curiosity – and allow time for communication before you make a final decision. You might find out that the man of your dreams didn’t want to offend you by paying for dinner, or that the woman you’ve been looking for doesn’t believe in going “Dutch” on the first date. As far as I am concerned, neither of those are deal-breakers, if the reward is great enough. Have your standards; just don’t let them have you.

Keep Rising,

Frank Love

www.FrankLove.com

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How to Gracefully Exit a Relationship

One Comment on “Standards vs. Expectations”

  1. How Standard-Setting Can Set Your Life Alight Says:

    […] is not having an endless list of requirements for your boyfriend/girlfriend/family member or friend. […]

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