People let you down all the time. They make choices that you may not agree with, break promises they said they never would, and simply do not follow through. When it comes to relationships, this tends to affect us on a much deeper level. Perhaps it’s because we’re in love, feel like we’ve given ourselves to another wholeheartedly, and/or feel like we’ve sacrificed a lot. But most of the time, it’s due to expectations.
I’m not one to preach the You should never expect anything from anyone rhetoric, because you should. But you cannot do so without clear communication and, most importantly, their approval.
Not speaking up couldn’t be more detrimental to getting what you truly desire from your mate. More often than not, people don’t sit down with their romantic partner and say, “Hey, I expect you to do x, y and z” until some sort of problem arises. There’s more of a “going with the flow” type of deal instead of having an up front, candid conversation that could lead to a mutually beneficial relationship.
Assumptions are the foundation for expectations. You assume your mate will think of you when out shopping. You assume they’ll stop text messaging their disrespectful ex when you make it official. You assume they will keep money in their pockets. You assume they’ll keep a clean house and a well-stocked refrigerator. You assume all of the things you do for him or her will be done for you in return, and that’s just plain unrealistic. If we take a look at the business world, corporations don’t have expectations, but what they do have is standards.
Expectations and standards may seem like they’re the same thing, but they are not. An expectation comes with a sense of entitlement, and you may experience feelings of disappointment and betrayal when your expectation isn’t met. Expectations are also based on beliefs. There is no factual evidence to back them up. He didn’t say he would call you every day. She did not agree to invite your sister to her girls’ night, mainly because you never told her that was what you wanted. A standard, on the other hand, is a bar that has been set by an authority. In this case, you. An individual either meets the standards to be with you or they do not.
Take major corporations, for example. They have policies and regulations detailing their quality of standards for each and every one of their products and/or services. Generally, companies have standards as outlined in their employee handbook that each worker has to follow, and certain protocols that must be adhered to. Upon getting hired, you attend orientation, where a member of the human resources department goes over company policies related to every aspect of your new position. Your boss offers training directly connected to the role you’re expected to fill. If your performance does not meet the standards of the company, additional training may be provided to give you a chance to improve. If not, you’ll be let go and replaced with a more suitable person for the position.
What makes it okay for your employer to have expectations is the fact that they’ve thoroughly communicated their needs from you as an employee. They’ve carefully explained the company’s way of doing things, and your acceptance of the position is a signal that you understand and agree to meet the requirements of the position. If the company just threw you into a role with no formal training or communication about what’s expected, how can they hold you accountable? How can they expect anything from you?
I, of all people know love should not be treated like commerce, but there’s a great benefit to incorporating the businesslike practice of standards into your relationship to optimize results. Once standards are expressed, then expectation can in fact come into play. Otherwise, it isn’t fair to hold people accountable for meeting unrealistic expectations without their consent.
So if you have a standard of having a loyal, supportive and committed partner and someone does not measure up to that, then you simply let him or her go. Yes, it can be that simple. You just have to make up your mind for it to be.
Shantell E. Jamison is an editor for EBONY.com and JETmag.com. Not confined to chasing headlines, this Chicago-based writer, radio personality and cultural critic is also the author of Drive Yourself in the Right Direction: Simple Quotes on How to Achieve Your Best Self.