Cleo's Dating Blog

Expectations v. Standards

Posted on: December 21, 2010

I hereby bring to the agenda the following discussion:

What is the difference between having expectations versus having standards, and how do you know if your standards/expectations are reasonable?

I have always been one that likes to look at a situation from many angles. I find that considering multiple perspectives yields a more well-informed, mature decision. For example, many times when I feel upset, prior to reacting, I ask myself, “Am I rightfully justified in having these emotions?” (I can’t say I am always successful in reacting maturely, but at least I try!) Recently a situation occurred where my gut reaction was to be upset and angry. It was one of those I should have known this was going to happen moments and I felt naive and stupid. I will spare you the details. However, I was exhausted and disappointed to say the least, yet I began to question whether my initial expectations were even reasonable. Was I entitled to these emotions? At the time, I could not figure out an answer- so I googled a picture of Trey Songz and felt better.

After a week of contemplation, I think I might be getting somewhere! First I want to start by explaining what I think the difference is between having standards and having expectations.

Standards are essential to dating. Without standards, who knows what kind of nonsense you would have to deal with. Standards serve as the basis from which you can make an initial judgment, thus saving you time and making your dating adventure more efficient. Lack of these standards can also be what are called “deal-breakers”. Some examples of standards for me are (including but not exclusive to) personality traits such as… a good sense of humor, charisma, honesty, fast wit, ambitious, reliable, and balanced. Physical traits include… great smile (see photo above), in-shape bod, taller than me, and good hygiene. I do not have many deal-breakers, but I take the ones I do have very seriously… I do not tolerate men that are flaky, fake, unemployed, not single, or do not have a car (Porsche preferred).

Standards can develop over time, but tend to stay fairly consistent. You are not going to wake up one day and decide that you only want to date men without college educations or that smoke a pack of cigarettes a day. What you are attracted to may change, but your base standards are more or less, unwavering.

Expectations are completely different. Expectations can develop quickly over time, change over night, and are case specific. When I first start dating a guy, I have zero expectations. He could pretty much do anything and I could not care less. However, it’s when the relationship begins to progress, feelings develop, and attachment sets in that the expectations start to increase exponentially. The saddest part is, I don’t think guys realize that this happens. Poor Boys. But seriously… why would a girl of high caliber stick around if there was no improvement or progression? Any attractive gal in LA is going to have multiple suitors and a man that wants to come out on top is going to have to bring is A game. If I am going to invest time, money, and emotions, there needs to be a visible benefit. While writing this, I realize… I must be difficult to date! Props to everyone that has tried! Apologies, but I am at the point where I recognize dysfunction in a relationship at the beginning and am not afraid to cut it off early.

On the other hand, not all expectations are good, healthy, or justified. A common expectation I struggle with is my assumption that people will act in a situation the same way that I would. It is unfair for me to expect a man to be as thoughtful as I can be. It is unfair if I expect him to handle stress like I do, manage his time like I do, or have the same priorities as I do. It is unfair to expect commitment from another when you are ready- people move at different speeds. You gotta let people be their own person. However, with that said, every person’s level of tolerance and ability to compromise is different. Take some time to really think about what things are worth the battle, and what things are not. You do not need to let everything slide yet expecting perfection is the most unfair of all.


Don’t lose your standards, keep your expectations in check. Know what you can personally tolerate and what you cannot. Be brave enough to cut out the destructive things in your life. Remember you deserve to get what you want and you never will if you don’t try. Don’t forget to laugh even when its hard.

Happy Holidays,



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