Should You Lower Your Expectations When Dating?

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Should You Lower Your Expectations When Dating

If you’re dating and have compared your expectations to those of your friends, you might have noticed a steep discrepancy. This is normal because different people have different expectations. 

But without knowing what healthy expectations are, you might expect too much and be disappointed, or expect too little and get exploited. 

In this article, we go over the healthy expectations you can confidently have when dating. Let’s get started with an overview.

Dating and Expectations: A Brief Overview

Expectations dictate whether the same situation disappoints you or makes you grateful. Setting the right expectations is crucial for dating success. After all, a lack of gratitude, complaints, and taking people for granted can lead one down a lonely path. But if you set your expectations too low, you might invite poor company. 

This creates a dilemma that all of us face: how can we have practical expectations without selling ourselves short? And the answer is to have decent expectations but high standards.

High Expectations vs. Having Standards: What Is the Difference?

Standards come with a rationale and can be used as practical sorting tools for the kinds of people you date, jobs you take, or hobbies you adopt. Expectations are broad and are instilled in every area of one’s life.

Having high expectations means assuming you will get the best in everything. Having standards means wanting the best in everything.

To clarify this, let’s look at something as a standard and an expectation to identify the difference. If you want to be respected by the person you date, you can have an expectation, respect, or a standard of respect. 

A couple having fun spending time together on a lake
A couple having fun spending time together on a lake

If you expect respect, then you might date anyone you like and hope they respect you. If you have a standard of respect, you will do something to be respected. And generally, that “something” is picking the person who will respect you.

It is possible for someone who expects respect to end up dating a disrespectful person. It is impossible for someone who has a standard of respect to be with someone disrespectful to them.

The difference with standards is that you do something about them. And because you have to do something, you don’t have as many standards as you have expectations.

Should You Lower Your Expectations When Dating?

You should lower your expectations only if you’re not willing to put in the work required to fulfill them. For instance, if you expect to date an actor but won’t move to LA, you’ll be disappointed.

Should You Expect More When Dating?

You should expect as much as your standards and actions allow. Don’t expect anything if you’re not willing to work to get into a relationship. This includes walking away from men or women who don’t fall in line with your expectations.

Reasonable Expectations When Dating

Reasonable Expectations When Dating
Reasonable Expectations When Dating

Having set the bar for expectation at whatever you’re willing to work for or walk away from in the absence of, let’s explore some healthy expectations to have when dating.

Trust and Honesty

No relationship can be built without mutual trust. If you can’t trust him and/or he can’t trust you, there’s no point in dating. To ensure that you get trust and honesty when dating, avoid going out again with men or women who are over-inquisitive about your past. 

Trust and honesty are not very common when dating. So you need to be very watchful of this expectation. Adopting it as a standard can help you avoid a lot of pain and heartbreak in your future.

Mutual Respect

Respect curbs resentment. If you can respect each other, you can get over conflicts (which happen in every relationship) without lasting damage. To have this expectation fulfilled, you must walk away at the first sign of unremorseful disrespect. 

If your partner is sorry, you might want to give it a second chance, but there should be zero room for a third chance. 

The third chance is when your boundary is erased, and you continue in the relationship with high expectations but poor results.

Sexual Compatibility

Sexual satisfaction is one of the key aspects of a non-platonic relationship. Unless you are asexual, you should seek sexual compatibility when dating. This is slightly tricky because people generally delay sex when dating. 

By the time they have sex, they can feel tied down to the person they’re dating. Still, if sex isn’t good and the other party isn’t interested in changing anything in the bed, nothing can stop you from walking away. 

A couple getting intimate on bed
A couple getting intimate on bed

Please don’t confuse this with initial sex awkwardness. No matter how many people you have slept with, the first time you sleep with someone, you will not know what they want and vice-versa. 

The question is, do you feel comfortable talking about it? If you feel like you will never be able to tell them what you like or get them to agree to act on it, then you’re incompatible. Otherwise, you’re just taking your time to get to know each other’s bodies better.

Room for Differences

While sex is something you need to be on the same page for, there are other areas in life where you don’t have to think the same way. From politics to religion, different people have different standards regarding their partners. 

If the guy or girl you are dating expects their partner to vote the same way they do, they should not be dating someone who has different political opinions. Generally, people who expect their girlfriend or boyfriend to be the same as them in every way are toxic, and you should walk away from them.

Balanced Priorities

Different people balance their work and romance differently. You don’t have to have your work and your love life in exact balance, but the extent to which you prioritize the person you are dating should match how much they prioritize you. 

To get this expectation fulfilled, you can deprioritize the person you are dating or prioritize them higher to match how much they prioritize you. Or you could walk away.

Why Do People Lower Their Expectations?

People lower their expectations below a healthy level because they suffer from low self-esteem or have trauma from a previous toxic relationship. Talking to friends with high standards can help one have higher expectations for one’s own love life.

Why Do People Have Unrealistic Expectations?

People have unrealistic expectations because of ego-centeredness, sociopathy, or narcissism. One can also have a lucky streak in life, which can set up expectations of future success as well.


Setting expectations when you are dating is quite tricky. If you have low expectations, you can get taken advantage of. 

But if your expectations are low, you could end up alone. It is best to have expectations that serve the relationship, not just you. 

More importantly, you must work towards meeting these expectations and select partners who can fulfill them.

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Over the years, Stephanie has had her fair share of dating experiences. While some turned out great, others weren't so great. She believes that relationships are meant to be fun, exciting, and full of laughter. She wants to help men and women become confident, attractive, and successful in their romantic relationships.