At some point in the last few weeks, as my mind wandered in and out of it’s usual madness – alternately analyzing everything then accepting it all as irrelevant ,i arrived at yet another epiphany regarding my relationships. I have long been a believer in expectations( as i understood it) , asserting that having none leaves you in a constant state of emotional “open season”.
That, in turn resulted in another question. Why have i felt this way? What exactly did i mean when i said i had “certain expectations”?
Well , if you have followed me for awhile you know that my first step when attempting to resolve an issue, is to define what exactly it is. So, i looked up the definition:
1a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future.
2.a belief that someone will or should achieve something.
Holy wow!… that didn’t seem right…or fair. Just reading the words, and applying them to a partner made me cringe! Why in the world would i place that burden on someone? i would certainly not enjoy having it placed on me! I had to re-assess. Eventually, it dawned on me that what i really meant, or wanted to mean, was that i had “standards”
standards:( noun, plural)
1.a level of quality or attainment.( much better!)
2.an idea or thing used as a measure, norm, or model in evaluations.
Now THIS i can get behind.
Purely defined, i believe it attests to setting boundaries, rather than attempting to recreate and reform another person. When i have expectations of someone or something, i am frequently stressed, and more often than not- disappointed. But having standards for myself and a partner in a relationship, (and making sure that those standards are agreed upon) is certainly both attainable and fair.
Allow me to explain…
Believing that someone can change their ways ( maybe that an antisocial loner will become a social butterfly, or that a violent , lazy, or irresponsible person will somehow do a 180, for instance) is pretty absurd. Yet, many times i have gone in with blinders on believing that with time and love and patience, whatever red flags i chose to ignore would go away. Yes, i could create the man of my dreams just by wishing it so ( or nagging them to death). These are “expectations”
On the other hand, a standard is something that has to already be in place, or at least a strong component, in any relationship. It is something that is internally set beforehand when meeting or beginning to date someone with intentions to have a future together. A good example here is hygiene. You can usually tell whether a person meets your hygiene standards. A sense of humor, a caring disposition, an overall moral/ethical code, or a noticeable pattern of responsible , mature behavior…any of these i would consider standards. And like anything else, standards will vary for everyone.
But i think more importantly , is the the ability to distinguish between the two. This can be tricky as hell, especially down the road. What you may come to “expect” of someone should always be based more on a standard than personal comfort or habit. Just because someone has always come home, watched TV with you and gone to bed at the same time is NOT a standard . It may be that at some point , they would rather spend more time getting healthy by exercising a after work, or perhaps they may start needing more or less sleep and not wanting to go to bed at the same time they always have.
Things change and with change comes adjustment. Adjustments to expectations are uncomfortable and for some, can lead to tension, frequent arguing or worse. But there is no adjusting when it comes to standards. They are important, and part of a stable and healthy relationship. I , for one, could not tolerate my partner suddenly refusing to shower , or showing a complete lack concern for others, or starting to behave as if they were 15 years old again. So yeah, i have standards.
I guess that’s just my 2 cents for the week. any thoughts?