This is a subject that has been circulating many recent conversations I’ve had. Standards by casual definition speaks to the rules we choose to live by to get through life and with hope conduct ourselves as model citizens. Some standards many of us live by are sound. Like those standards that prevent us from being cruel and unbearable which are essential and should be at the top of everyone’s list. The standards I’m referring to are those little things that in their own way brings us discomfort or even confusion.
I challenge people to identify those standards and dive into their origins. This is important because just like all rules, someone created it, and chances are it was created because of personal feelings and experiences. Take marriage for instance. Somewhere in time it was decided that marriage was for everyone and every able-bodied person should find love and get married or your relationship isn’t valid.
As a result millions of people around the world feel like failures. They can’t seem to crack the code to love and get married. People spend large amounts of money trying to live up to this particular standard, although it wasn’t set by them. Sadly people that become obsessed with this tend to become toxic as they start to project their own standards on their partner.
Here’s where the trouble starts…
These expectations creep in and cause chaos and in some cases become the framework for ending the relationship. How is this fair? The answer is, it’s not. Relationship expectations are something that should be discussed as a couple at the very beginning. This will allow each person to dig deeper. For instance, some men have a personal standard of not wanting their women to go out. Discussing this would allow both parties to ask more probing questions. Things like; Why is that so important or What is your opinion of women that do?
These probing questions should be answered openly and honestly! This is important, because the opposite of doing so could plant toxic seeds that may still cause damage. We owe it to ourselves as individuals to also be honest in our responses. Push through the uncomfortable feeling, be vulnerable enough to explain how this issue could be problematic. This process can help both parties organically set boundaries in the relationship. It’s important to set boundaries, because they allow us to protect ourselves from pain, and also educates our partners on how to deal with us.
I initially felt I’d reserve talking about boundaries in a separate text, but they’re too important to ignore. Boundaries allow us to be honest with ourselves, but can often be difficult to set. Manson, M (2020) explains that removing the fantasy from your relationship is an efficient way to skew the difficulty. Fantasies are defined in context as unrealistic expectations. Things that are seemingly unfair to expect from your partner especially if they’re not willing. This can be the Grim Reaper of boundaries because fantasies tend to be one-sided, and are quick to remove partners from being on the same page.
The good news is this is common. Many refer to this time of a relationship as The Honeymoon Phase, and it’s easy to assume that every relationship goes through this phase. This is normal; but the unknowing individual may mistakingly get stuck in this faze. In the short-term this may not manifest itself into something toxic, over time however we can start to set the terms of the relationship in this faze. The dating, the early gifts, finding and experiencing new things together, the long talks and walks and a bevy of other natural and helpful building blocks for a healthy relationship.
Don’t panic! All of those things are amazing, and generally both parties are huge fans of the newness and all of the fun it comes with. During this time taking a step back to identify that the honeymoon may be fading, can be crucial. Talk with your partner, explain a more practical future you foresee for your union, and navigate this new discovery together. Asking blatantly; Do you feel that way as well? This provides the framework to actively communicating on this topic. Remember this is not something you need to have perfectly hashed out when the conversation ends. This is most effective when it is woven into the fabric of your relationship. Therefore there’s a better chance of expressing concerns about this openly and organically.
This a lengthy read from me by comparison to other thoughts I’ve shared, but I wanted to lay a firm foundation for this conversation to continue over time. I want to hear from you, I want to hear how these things are starting to reveal themselves in your relationships. I want this dialogue to plant seeds that will help to grow better understanding of ourselves and our partners in life.