Standards versus Expectations

Watching Australia’s Married at First Sight last night got me thinking about the difference between standards and expectations. Standards are great. Everyone should have them - and stick to them. Standards are about what we have decided we deserve – as people, as human beings. In love, one of the most important things you can do is set yourself standards for what you will accept and deserve in love, and how you will act and behave, in love. They are declarations of what is important in life and love. How you will live and love. They are the bottom lines - the important things.

Expectations, however, can get messy! I think of expectations as those things you, well, expect, to state the obvious! What tends to happen is that, while standards are set with a clear mind, expectations are those things that gather dust and momentum and eventually you have monster-sized expectations that may or may not be based on what you originally meant them to be.

Expectations tend to form without much thought, based on unconscious beliefs about what ‘should’ happen or what someone else ‘should’ do. Expectations focus on others rather than ourselves. When we talk about what we expect from ourselves, it is usually our standards we are talking about. When we talk about what we expect from others, that person probably has no clue what you are expecting from them and are blindly going about their lives blissfully unaware they are trampling all over your expectations!

This can lead to a blurring of the lines between standards and expectations and this couldn’t have been played out better than on MAFS AU last night (NZ time.).

Here are some examples:

Ash expected ‘butterflies’ and the fairytale: It was hard to watch ‘Trashley’ as Troy bumbled his way through romance and Ashley shrugged off most of his affectionate fumbles as if they were annoying flies. Ashley has taken heat from 'Team Troy’ for her grumpiness and refusal to fall in love with the (for the most part) likeable Troy. She also had mismatched expectations when it came to Troy saying he loved her. On one hand, she thought he said it too soon. Next minute, she was grumpy when he said he only loved parts of her, and grumpy again when he said he had loved her (past tense). However I can’t help thinking if she had focused on her own standard, rather than her expectations, it might have come out differently and been clearer for her. From what I can tell, Ashley’s standard is she needs to feel physically attracted to her man. And frankly, fair enough! Most people would agree with that. If she had stuck to that standard, she could have gracefully wished she felt that way about him instead of going around in circles getting ever-grumpier at him (and herself) that she wasn’t getting those elusive butterflies. And why did we love that Troy actually made the decision for himself at the end that it wasn’t enough for him? I think it’s because we saw Troy (finally!) realise that he was more invested in this than Ashley was, and he stuck to his standard which was that he needs to be loved as much as he loves. Go Troy! Before that Troy had also been getting stuck in an expectation trap. He kept expecting Ashley to return his affection, and expecting her to be perfectly happy and upbeat, rather than accepting that (to use an overused phrase!) she just wasn’t that into him. But hey, he got there in the end! Phew.

Attraction Expectation – Pat and Charlene: I kinda wish Charlene had taken a leaf out of Ashley’s book and just admitted she just wasn’t that into Pat. I kinda wish Pat had taken a leaf out of Troy’s book and realised Charlene just wasn’t that into him. I don’t think it takes a crystal ball to work out that one isn’t going to last (in fact a quick google search suggests that it’s already bitten the dust!).

Dean and Tracey – Expectation City! Well where do we start?! Clearly Dean expected Tracey to just buy into his bullshit one more time and thankfully, finally, Tracey saw the light and set her standard for love! I’m not going to give Tracey a hard time. With the benefit of hindsight (and being able to watch it unfold on TV) she can of course see she was too kind and forgiving. She expected him to change, she expected him to be different, but when it came to the end, we all saw her stick to a standard. It was so hard to watch Tracey have such low standards, right up until that last moment! Yay for Tracey. Which leads me to….

Holy Moly – Sarah and Telv. Now Sarah is certainly someone who has no issues with her standards being too low – and good on her. But, those standards started to get so out of control that she was looking like she was about to let ‘salt of the earth’ Telv go, because he needed a few weeks to get his old life sorted! Her incredibly high expectation that Telv would barely be allowed to touch down in Perth before moving to Melbourne to be with her were ludicrous. She seemed to genuinely believe that if he took that month he needed in Perth, that he didn’t love her enough – had abandoned her - and that he needed to “man up”. God, Telv, quick tip - make sure you’re not on Snapchat too much, ok?! Thankfully, Sarah saw sense and stuck to her standard – which was that Telv was a good man and that he clearly loved and adored her - and that was what she wanted. Luckily, in the meantime, Telv hadn’t set his own expectations too high and changed his mind! He stuck to his standard – Sarah was the girl for him and he knew it. Good man, Telv!

And speaking of moving…John and Melissa – I’m sure John didn’t have a standard that declared “My next love must live within ten minutes driving distance”, but he obviously had an expectation that his life would barely have to change and the next big love of his life would fall in his lap within a 5 mile radius…On the other side, Melissa seemed to expect John to give up all the emotional goodies without giving away too much herself. But again – wise heads won out and the cutest couple in MAFS are together. Yay!

It’s fascinating to watch people get married at first sight. I’m in awe of them for being brave enough to do it and also think they’re completely nuts. Naturally, you would walk into it with incredibly high expectations. But I think it’s those people that have stuck to their standards, who have shone.