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Expectations vs. Boundaries

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I was recently complaining to my husband about they way I overheard a mutual acquaintance talk to his wife. It made my toes curl, literally. I was so irritated by the disrespect I could feel the hair on the back of my neck start to get prickly. The truth of the matter is, this guy is always like that with his wife, so I don’t know why I was so shocked.


I was well into working myself into a full-blown rant about the horrible behavior I’d witnessed when my husband very calmly pointed out the obvious. Our mutual acquaintance has never had to be better. He has never had to learn better communication skills. He’s never really had to make an effort. And in that moment the whole picture shifted, because it went from being his problem with being an asshole, to her issue of not expecting to be spoken to and treated differently.


Obvious, I know. But I was momentarily blinded by my indignation.


The concept of setting boundaries around other people’s behavior has always felt a little sticky to me. I get that in it’s purest form it is about the person setting the boundary. However, life doesn’t usually happen in a pure form. Often boundaries become about the other person. Needing someone else to be or behave differently for me to be ok – and frankly, that’s not really ok.


Expectations feel softer, maybe even more feminine than boundaries. However, when a woman sets high expectations for herself and others that is a very powerful force, or force field. When I expect to be treated with respect, I am rarely disappointed.

Expectation sends a clear signal to Universe. Expectation elicits that thing we’re expecting in others. Expectation gives me a clear compass point so if I find myself disappointed, I know something is wrong. Expectations are about me and no one else really. Expectation is not demanding. If someone can’t live up to my expectations, it’s on me to make adjustments, not anyone else.

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Expectation elicits that thing we’re expecting in others. Expectation gives me a clear compass point so if I find myself disappointed, I know something is wrong. Expectations are about me and no one else really. Expectation is not demanding. If someone can’t live up to my expectations, it’s on me to make adjustments, not anyone else.

I can create my world the way I want to by charging it with clear expectation.
People almost without exception treat me the way I expect them too.

My husband was right about our friends. She never expects him to behave any differently than he does. She doesn’t expect him to treat her better. She probably doesn’t see it’s not appropriate because she doesn’t believe she’s deserving of even basic courtesy.


If she were to upgrade her expectation, I don’t know if he’d be able to meet her there. However, that’s the thing. We don’t know and probably never will unless she starts expecting better for herself. He might just be capable of surprising everyone. Or maybe, just maybe, I need to expect him to be different too. At least in my earshot.

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Lisa Hayes, The Love Whisperer, is an LOA Relationship Coach. She helps clients leverage Law of Attraction to get the relationships they dream about and build the lives they want. Lisa is the author of the newly released hit book, Score Your Soulmate and How to Escape from Relationship Hell and The Passion Plan.

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