Standards are how you relate to yourself, whereas expectations are how you’re relating to another person, according to Paulette Sherman, Psy.D., psychologist and author of Marriage and the Law of Attraction.
“Expectations are about how you hope the other person will respond, and standards are more about knowing yourself and taking care of yourself, while you consciously create your life,” she says. As such, reasonable standards reflect your own values in a relationship.
“They stem from who you are and how you want to live your life,” Sherman notes. “For example, you have a standard of honesty in a relationship or a standard of respectful communication. A healthy standard is generally a broad principle like honesty, loyalty, or generally keeping your word.”
Standards are healthy, and when we consciously choose partners who already reflect our values, unrealistic expectations are less likely to interfere. “Once you choose someone,” Sherman says, “you should have already determined if they matched your core standards because you probably won’t change them. It’s best to watch closely and determine what their own standards are and whether their most important ones match yours.”