Are your Expectations too High or Too Low?

by eHarmony Staff

Are your Expectations too High or Too Low?

Do you dream too big when thinking about potential relationship partners? Or maybe you’re at the other end of the spectrum, setting your sights too low.

Let’s look at each scenario in detail.

Expecting too Much

It’s definitely good to maintain high standards. After all, especially when it comes to a relationship, you want to be with someone who is the best possible match for you in terms of personality, kindness, intelligence, looks, spirituality, etc.

The problem: In many episodes of “Seinfeld,” both George and Jerry are seen breaking up with women because they aren’t perfect. One woman was a “low-talker,” another had “man-hands,” one used Jerry’s toothbrush, another had a weird toe. These women got the axe because they didn’t meet the impossible standards of these neurotic characters.

In the real world, it’s problematic when you’ve set your standards so high that no one can actually meet them. As a result, you’re always unhappy with whoever you’re going out with, since he or she keeps disappointing you in at least some aspect of your idealistic expectations. Plus, that person will always be able to sense your disappointment, which means that he or she won’t feel good about the time you two spend together, either.

The solution: Be careful about setting up predetermined and unrealistic standards in your mind. Instead, be realistic. The perfect individual just isn’t out there. You may want to date a Kennedy with a perfect body, a hilarious sense of humor, and a deep soul, but good luck finding that person. We all have certain flaws, and creating a healthy and fulfilling relationship is about finding a like-minded person who offers much of what we’re looking for in a partner, and then compromising and negotiating on the issues where differences occur. So stop looking for the ideal mate, and begin searching for someone you can see yourself creating a strong and long-lasting relationship with.

Expecting too Little

There’s nothing wrong with accepting people for who they are. This non-judgmental stance you take is a wonderful quality that will attract people to you. And when you don’t expect too much from people, they can feel free to be who they are.

The problem: On the other hand, expectations that are too low can create all kinds of troubles. And these troubles can be more damaging than simply not finding a good match for yourself. When you aim too low in your romantic life, you set yourself up for constant heartache. For example, you might choose someone who treats you poorly. Out of all of the potential problems that can arise by making poor decisions in your dating life, this one does the most harm. Being with someone who treats you poorly—verbally, emotionally, or physically—can actually damage how you view and feel about yourself.

Low standards can create other problems as well. You could end up with someone you simply don’t like, or who doesn’t understand you at all. Compatibility is fundamental to a successful relationship, so when you settle for someone based on your own low expectations, you risk ending up with someone with whom you’re not compatible at all.

The solution: One of the first things you need to do, if you have expectations that are too low, is to spend some time thinking about where those low expectations come from. In other words, what keeps you from wanting and demanding a person who is actually good for you? Is it that somewhere deep within, you’re not sure that you really deserve to be with someone who will love you and be good to you? Is it that you worry that if the person chooses you, there must be something wrong with them? (This relates to the old Groucho Marx line about refusing to be in a club that would have you as a member.) If self-image issues are leading to low dating standards, then we strongly recommend that you spend some time thinking about how you view yourself, and what you think you deserve in life.

Or maybe you just haven’t put much thought into exactly what kind of person you want to be with, or what kind of relationship you want to have. If that’s the case, then it’s definitely time to give some real thought to your dating standards. Be as clear as you can regarding what you’re looking for, and then let those priorities guide you as you go on future dates.

Whether your expectations are too high or too low, keep in mind that in dating, the point is to meet someone who is a good match for you, and with whom you can be happy. If you find that person, then you’ve set your expectations just about right.

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