Recently my best friend and I were having a conversation about expectations. As I have next to no valid dating experience (in my opinion), I told her I was lowering my expectations of men so that they can lower their expectations of me. She liked my rant so much she quoted it (which makes it easier for me to remember and requote here).
"I'm lowering my expectations of men," I said, "So they can lower their expectations of me. I can't be thin with a 42 inch *ss, I can't be a size six in shoes, nor enjoy cooking and exercise more than I do eating. I can't be some Gabrielle Union/Zoe Saldana looking chick with a p*nis in my mouth and a skillet in my hand. It's ridiculous, there's no point, and it's highly unlikely that any of that can happen in the span of time he'll want it to."
Sure, it was a tirade, but I had a lot of valid points.
1) Unreachable expectations affect everyone. Women, if you yourself are not a Nicki Minaj in the body but you want a Morris Chestnut/Denzel Washington looking somebody, you get a major side eye. Where's the reality in that? How do you expect someone of that caliber to even find you? Work on it. Work at it. If not, give that cute but slightly gap-toothed brotha a chance!
2) Acknowledging your faults doesn't make them go away, but it makes them a hell of a lot easier to work with and get over. I've always envied how men can know something is wrong with them and still just roll with it. I once asked a dude what his flaws were and he said "I'm a little knock-kneed, but my girl digs it. That's about it though." Done. How many women can do that? Further, how many women have just one thing? I know I have a laundry list of "not enough this, too much that" but I learned once you just look at it and say "Yep, that's me" and roll with it, it never seems as big as it was before.
3) Reachable expectations yield more results than unreachable ones. The best friend frequently tells me I don't know what I really like in men because so few get to be close enough to me to know. Since I'm not looking for an Adonis with a PhD in deep thought and cuisine it opens up my options that much more, and thus, let's folks get to know me much more than they normally would.
In short though, expect from others what you expect from yourself. That laundry list of "must-haves" from years ago is now a dwindled down post-it of "would-likes," and I'm much happier for it.