A lot of people drift in and out of relationships without any preexisting expectations. Our expectations are our standards and when our standards are low, or we set the bar knee high, then any Tom, Dick or Narcissist can waltz on over and create all kinds of emotional havoc in our lives.

In the biographies of many of the most successful people in the world, most of them talk about their humble beginnings. Some were homeless, or living in their cars and were living way below what they were capable of. It wasn’t until they flipped a switch, or they just said enough, that their lives began to change. What they say that changed for them, was that they began to expect more from themselves and more from others.

Having standards means not settling for less – from yourself or from anyone else. It means setting the bar high and having preexisting expectations right out of the gate. When you have preexisting expectations it’s a lot easier to spot a Narcissist, or someone that means to do you harm early on, before you get emotionally attached.

Narcissists and other dysfunctional types seem to have an innate ability to erode the expectations of their partners. Sometimes it’s blatant and obvious, but often it’s slow and subtle, so much so, that we don’t realize that it’s even happening.

Whether or not this erosion happens, is based on our reactions to our partner’s bad behavior. If we are the type that takes responsibility for other people, makes excuses, rationalizes, or minimizes, then you are sending a message to your partner, that you are accepting of poor treatment. When bad behavior goes unchecked, I can guarantee you that it is going to happen again and again.

It’s a man’s prerogative to behave badly. There is nothing anyone can do to change that. But it’s your responsibility to make the choice of whether or not you will put up with it. This is an important component to your own mental health, because if you allow someone to mistreat you, then the price you pay is always your self-esteem.

The difficulty in new relationships is that during the get to know you phase most men are on their best behavior. It’s not until a Narcissist knows he’s got you, that he’s going to pull the old bait and switch. It’s your job to recognize poor treatment and react – no matter what stage of the relationship you’re in. Like I said if you let it go unchecked it will continue and even get worse. So when you are faced with disrespect you must react. I’m not talking about a screaming match, or some big drama. I’m talking about calming stating this behavior is unacceptable and I’m going to leave.

If it happens once, maybe even twice fine, men are always testing boundaries, but if you’re on your tenth chance, you’ve got to recognize that this situation is dysfunctional and you have to extricate yourself from the relationship.

You have to look at your situation logically and without emotion. If someone is treating you badly and you voice your displeasure, what’s the worst thing that can happen? You will gage all you need to know by their reaction to your reaction:

  • If they get even more mad at you, or even blame you – leave.
  • If they break up with you for speaking up for yourself – I’d say you dodged a bullet. You don’t want anyone that isn’t interested in how you’re feeling or your boundaries.
  • If they say they’re sorry, but continue to do it again and again – leave.

The only reaction that you can accept is an apology, followed by not doing it again. Period.

A big part of this problem is that women with low self-esteem generally have a hard time speaking up for themselves. They’re avoiders and will do whatever they can to avoid confrontation. For a Narcissist this is the perfect target.

Low self-esteem and low standards generally go hand in hand. People that have a healthy self-esteem and a high level of confidence take care of themselves and when they find themselves in a relationship that has become unhealthy, they just end it. They don’t sit around pining about it or second guessing themselves.

I work in a male dominated industry and most of my colleagues are men, that have a tremendous amount of confidence. They’re driven, take good care of themselves and have high self-esteem. I hear them on a daily basis talking about their relationships and I’m amazed at the ease at which they can just end a relationship when a girl starts to act ‘psycho’. They all have high standards and if a girl they are dating starts to show signs of being dysfunctional, they are not living in uncertaintyville or dispairville, they jump on the next train and start looking again immediately. They don’t internalize the problems of others. They look at the situation without emotion and logically come to the conclusion that this isn’t for them and they’re done just like that, with no drama, no flare and no afterthought.

When you don’t expect much and you settle for less – that’s exactly what you’ll get. Great results come from great expectations. When are you going to raise yours? When is enough, enough? Only you know when you’ve reached your limit.  But remember it’s your choice – it always was.

Don’t be afraid to set the bar high. You may find that you don’t have as many dates, but the ones that are willing to attempt the jump are usually the ones that are worth it.

I bargained with Life for a penny,
And Life would pay no more,
However I begged at evening
When I counted my scanty store;
For Life is a just employer,
He gives you what you ask,
But once you have set the wages,
Why, you must bear the task.
I worked for a menial’s hire,
Only to learn, dismayed,
That any wage I had asked of Life,
Life would have paid. – Jessie Belle Rittenhouse

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Written by Savannah Grey

Savannah Grey is a Freelance Writer, a Hypnotherapist, Consultant, Sports Fanatic, and Philosopher and has a degree in Psychology. She is the founder of www.esteemology.com, a website dedicated to educating and healing survivors of abusive relationships.