When you enter into a relationship, you are hopeful of forming a relationship that brings out the best attributes of your partner and you. You feel that the happy moments you share in the initial phase of your romantic relationship will be everlasting. However, that is seldom the case. Eventually, you tend to have expectations from your partner, both reasonable and unreasonable.
Rising expectations can generate mounting tensions and cause long-term harm to your relationship. When expectations in a relationship spiral, they turn unreasonable and unrealistic. Thus, it is imperative to check on your expectations, have a clear picture of what you want from your partner, and work at building a healthy partnership. Let us look at how both you and your companion can mold your relationship in a positive and constructive way.
Should You Have Expectations In A Relationship?
Human relationships are shaped by expectations — it’s only natural. A relationship evolves based on expectations. Often, you and your partner might match each other’s expectations, making you believe that having expectations equals a healthy partnership.
Let’s consider the case of Ann and Richard. Ann assumed that Richard would do anything to make her happy, as had always been the case. She wanted an expensive bracelet as a gift for her birthday and had hinted about it many times to Richard. He, instead, bought her some flowers.
Why didn’t Richard live up to Ann’s expectations? He did not get that bonus he had been eagerly waiting for; hence, he didn’t have the amount to purchase the bracelet. Even after being told that he didn’t receive the bonus he was hoping for, Ann continued to be upset. She felt that Richard wasn’t as caring as before. This is when Ann should have understood that expectations can’t always be fulfilled.
It is good to have expectations up to a certain point. It shows that you have a trusting partner and have faith that they would behave in a particular manner. But it is also important to realize and learn how to react when your partner doesn’t behave as expected. Expecting that your partner will keep you above everything else all the time is unrealistic and can result in undesirable outcomes.
Why Do Overexpectations In A Relationship Cause Problems?
You believe that your partner should react to your expectations in a particular manner, and when that doesn’t happen, you are disheartened.
Sometimes, your partner might be well aware of your expectations and vice versa. However, at times, they may be thoroughly unaware of what you expect from them. This is when misunderstandings and problems arise, with expectations taking the form of ego clashes and constant squabbles.
Whether you like it or not, you should know that your partner isn’t a mind reader. There will be times when you will have to articulate your feelings and not make assumptions. As individuals, both you and your partner might have certain expectations, and you may need to make adjustments or fulfill them to sustain a healthy relationship. It is important to give each other a decent amount of time to figure out what you expect of one another.
Almost all relationships are far from perfect. Couples, in general, have issues that need to be ironed out to have a strong partnership. Knowing and understanding each other’s expectations will ultimately result in a quality relationship wherein both partners treat each other with dignity and respect.
Reasonable Expectations In A Relationship
Having reasonable expectations is healthy for your relationship. Each one of us has certain necessities that need to be fulfilled. Let’s take a look at some of the reasonable expectations that partners in a relationship can hold.
You feel special when your partner is extremely fond of you and expresses their feelings and emotions by kissing and hugging or holding hands. It is a wonderful feeling when your partner admires you and shows it in their actions and deeds. Affection is one of the major components of a healthy relationship, and if you both give each other a lot of love and affection, you are bound to be happy in your relationship.
When you have mutual respect, it signifies that your relationship is moving in the right direction. A respectful partner wouldn’t mock you even if they disagree with you on certain matters. You need to have healthy debates and reasonable arguments that do not result in insults or disrespectful behavior. A partner who respects you should appreciate you as an individual and be respectful of your choices.
Time plays a very crucial role in shaping a relationship. As partners, the two of you need to find time for each other while also having a shared personal space that is only yours. It is not unusual for your partner to occasionally not give you the time that you deserve. This shouldn’t be a common occurrence, but a rare one. In case either of you does not make time for the other person, consider rethinking the parameters of the relationship.
One of the most important things for a relationship to keep going is compassion. There will be times when you are hurt or down, and it is a reasonable expectation to have your partner by your side, assuring you that no matter what, they will always be there to lift you.
Your partner might not completely understand or feel the pain you are in, but it makes a huge difference when they try to reach out and empathize with you. A gentle touch and a kind word from your partner during a particularly testing time can go a long way in forging a strong partnership.
An ideal partner should be someone who behaves appropriately with you and treats you with consideration. How your partner behaves with you when alone or in public is significant as this can make or mar a relationship. Your partner does not need to fulfill all your desires. What’s important is that they are considerate about how you think and feel.
Being thoughtful about each other’s wants and desires is crucial in a relationship. Both partners should work in tandem to develop a perfect relationship based on shared values and aspirations.
Unreasonable Expectations In A Relationship
Look at your relationship from a neutral perspective, and ask yourself if what you want from your partner is justified. Do you have realistic relationship expectations? Are you certain that these expectations are based on realistic goals?
Unknowingly, you might have harbored unreasonable expectations from your partner, which might cause a great deal of unhappiness to the two of you and result in vast emotional conflict. Read on to learn what these unrealistic expectations are.
6. Expecting your partner to read your mind
Some people in relationships tend to believe that they do not need to communicate their needs and expectations and that everything should be understood without speaking a word. So, when their expectations go unfulfilled, it leads to frustration and anger. It is unrealistic to think that your partner would always possess the foresight to know what’s in your mind and act accordingly. Constant and honest communication is essential for a relationship to prosper.
7. Avoiding conflicts
Conflicts arise even in the best of relationships. They can be positive because they allow both you and your partner to look closely at the issues in your relationship and understand each other’s likes and dislikes, needs, and changes that the two of you would like to bring about to build a healthier relationship.
Conflicts and arguments are inevitable and normal as long as they don’t start undermining your relationship. To trust that avoiding conflicts is a sign of a healthy relationship is wrong.
8. Being resistant to change
Change is a huge part of who we are as individuals. It is only natural that relationships gradually grow and adjust to the various inconsistencies of time. As partners age and mature, so should their relationships. Relationships cannot remain unaffected by multiple factors, such as financial pressures and health issues. Those relationships that endure a lot of strain and come out stronger and more mature tend to survive the test of time.
9. Expecting your partner to devote all of their time to you
To build and maintain a strong bond, it is important to devote your time for each other. However, your partner cannot devote all of their time entirely to you. This is an unrealistic expectation that can cause problems.
You and your partner should respect each other’s personal space and take out time to do your respective work. And it is important that you both do not lose your individual identities. Therefore, it is necessary to give time to your personal hobbies and interests as well.
To develop a greater understanding and a deeper bond with your partner, you need to have a more constructive outlook for your existing relationship — build a bridge of appreciation rather than blame and resentment. Cultivate a partnership that is equal and fair, and highlight each other’s strengths and qualities.
How To Manage Expectations In A Relationship?
Romantic relationships have the power to change us as individuals for better or worse. It is tough to manage expectations in a relationship, but not impossible. When expectations are high, you must ensure that they do not destroy the equilibrium of your relationship. What are a few things you can do to manage expectations?
1. Maintain a healthy distance
Sometimes, it is necessary to maintain an emotional and physical distance with your partner. It will help you build a relationship based on love, patience, commitment, understanding, and trust. When there is some distance between you two, it paves the way to a healthy and successful relationship. It also enables your relationship to progress at a steady pace, and the two of you grow as individuals.
As partners, it makes sense to rely on one another and still have your identity. Do not give up on what makes you happy and always maintain your sense of individuality.
2. Focus on things that make you happy
Do not make your relationship the center of your universe. It cannot be your whole focal point. You need to start looking outside and discover and prioritize things that make you happy and give you a sense of satisfaction.
Your relationship can give you a great deal of true happiness, but you shouldn’t make it a reason for your existence altogether. Take up hobbies, make friends, and do things that enhance your confidence.
3. Be direct in expressing your feelings
Always be clear about what you want from your partner. For instance, you might want your partner to attend a family wedding with you or support you in your career choices. Be direct about your wishes, and do not feel guilty about having expectations as long as they are not unreasonable.
Don’t deny yourself the joy and pleasure of being in a relationship just because you cannot have an honest conversation with your partner. If you are absolutely clear that your expectations are reasonable, then boldly discuss it with your partner. Do not allow unnecessary resentment and misunderstanding to gnaw at the foundation of your relationship.
4. Challenge the “Shoulds” you carry about your partner
Expectations often include the word “Should” (i.e., they should know, they should take out the trash, they should be smarter). But when you are thinking in “shoulds,” it means your thoughts are rooted in judgements which might be connected to unrealistic expectations or faulty beliefs. If you find yourself thinking your partner “should ____” (fill in the blank), it helps to ask yourself, “Why should they?” and “what else might be happening that they aren’t _____” (fill in the blank). This allows us to practice empathy and understanding for why our partners aren’t doing what we think they should be, rather than judging them.
When your honeymoon phase eventually ends, and reality strikes, it can disrupt your relationship with your partner if it isn’t handled sensibly. A relationship will not always have a rosy side — it has an ugly side too. It is here that, as partners, you need to manage your expectations from each other and forge a relationship with grace and dignity.
It is entirely up to both the partners as to how they arrive at a productive resolution. Do not set unrealistic and unfair high standards for your partner and yourself. Discuss the cornerstones around which you have built your relationship. The characteristics of a partnership keep changing as individuals in the partnership keep evolving.
Creating a healthy, stable, harmonious, and long-lasting relationship requires hard work and immense patience and love. Over time, you develop expectations, but everything has its limits. Expectations can keep growing every day, and hence, you should know where to draw the line.