When my relationship with my first love came to a dramatic end, his biggest complaint was that I wanted more for him than he wanted for himself. We were in college; I was the English major and he was in art school in Boston. As someone who drank too much, his ambition was minimal, and every day that passed that he didn’t give his art his all, it killed me. I pushed him too hard and expected too much, in both his art and our relationship. This was something he was finally able to tell me when we became friends several years after the breakup.
According to author and marriage expert Stephanie Cootz, people’s expectations of their partners are higher than ever. Where once upon a time women were content to stick it out, trapped in a 1950s kitchen, gender equality has made it so we get to be choosy; we get to have high standards for our partners and ourselves. However, there is such a thing as expecting too much, and in doing so you end up sabotaging your relationships. Here are nine signs that your expectations for men are just way too high.
- You often question if they’re good enough for you. Look, every woman, at some point in her life, has wondered if the guy she’s dating is good enough for her. That’s completely normal. But when that preoccupation with the idea that you’re better than him is a constant thought that crosses your mind, you know you’re expecting something from him that he clearly can’t deliver.
- You’re more likely to focus on their faults. People are not perfect. People mess up, fall down, and have weird, disgusting habits ― it’s called being human. You either accept these imperfections or move on. You can’t expect someone to evolve past being human.
- When they don’t follow through, you become furious. Whether it’s in your relationship or in his career, you take it personally when he doesn’t do what he says he’s going to do. It infuriates you that he’s selling himself short, because in your mind it means he’s selling you and the relationship short, too.
- The idea of being second makes you sick. You can’t stand the thought of not being first in his life. You expect him to drop everything and everyone for you, even if that thing is his sick grandmother. You’re obsessed with him putting you first at all times, which is not only inappropriate, it’s unrealistic.
- You keep tally of their mistakes. So, he forgot your anniversary or maybe drove past the bodega instead of stopping for more Diet Coke like you requested ― it happens. But in your case, because your expectations are so insanely high, you find this unforgivable, so you make a note and keep a running tally, as proof for the next time he makes a mistake.
- You find more negative in them than positive. He’s lazy, he doesn’t work hard enough, he doesn’t love you as much as he should, he doesn’t value you how great you are, and on and on. If that sounds familiar, then you’re definitely creating standards that are probably unattainable.
- You’re constantly in search of the ideal instead of reality. It’s one thing to “reach for the stars,” but it’s another thing to be so wrapped up in the ideal that everyone suffers. At that point, you might even be setting your expectations too high for yourself and you’ll be burnt out by the time you’re 31.
- You have little room in your life for their errors. In fact, you’re so put off by any errors that he makes that you honestly feel that he’s just one mistake away from being dumped. Why would you want to waste your time on someone who isn’t perfect, anyway?
- You want to change them. You can’t change people and, as a woman who’s dated men her entire life, I can attest to the fact that you definitely can’t change men. They’re a completely different breed from us, and let’s be honest, far from perfect. If you spend your time trying to mold a man into complete perfection, you’re not just walking around with obscenely high expectations, but you’ll find yourself banging your head against the wall. It’s just not going to happen.