Whether we?re in a new relationship and trying to decide what to expect, or trying to make an existing relationship better, discussing expectations of each other is important. But before you can discuss your expectations, you have to figure out what they are.
More importantly, you need to be sure your expectations are reasonable. That?s the part that can get tricky. We don?t always recognize our expectations as being unrealistic because we don?t even realize we?re expecting them.
Let?s take a look at eight relationship expectations. Four of them are unrealistic, and four of them are reasonable.
Whether it?s expecting your partner to be more loving or to not cry at that sad scene in the movie theater, expecting different emotional responses from someone is unreasonable.
We are who we are. We respond emotionally the way we respond. We can?t force ourselves to feel more or less, and we shouldn?t be expected to pretend just to make someone else more comfortable.
Of course, there are some exceptions to this. Someone who reacts violently when angry, for example, can and should be expected to learn to control those violent reactions. But in general, you need to accept your partner, and their emotional reactions, for what they are.
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While we can?t set expectations around our partner?s emotional responses, we can expect them to give us affection. That affection may look different from one partner to another: some may be more comfortable with physical affection, while others may prefer to say the words. Learning the love languages can help you see where your partner might be giving you affection in ways you didn?t realize.
You can expect your partner to show you affection, and you can also expect them to listen and try to give you affection in the ways that you prefer.
While this is a reasonable expectation, it?s still important that you express yourself to your partner so they know what you want.
Perfection is unattainable for anyone. It?s just not possible. At some point, somewhere, somehow, every single person on this planet fails at something. Expecting your partner to be above all the other humans on this planet is completely unreasonable.
You can?t expect your partner to never fail at something, to never forget anything, to always do the right thing, and to never ever hurt you. Your partner is human, you?re human, and you?re both going to make mistakes.
Expecting perfection, or for your partner to be anything other than who and what they are is setting both of you up for disappointment.
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You can?t expect perfection, but you can expect respect. With respect comes the best effort that a person can put forth. Your partner may not be perfect, but when you expect respect, you expect that they will live up to their word more often than not, that they will listen to you when you tell them what you need or how you feel, and that they will do their best to always make you happy and not cause you pain intentionally.
Respect leads to open communication and honesty, and with all three of those, you can get as close to perfection as is humanly possible.
Unreasonable: your partner as source of happiness
This one is a bit tricky, because a relationship can make you unhappy if it?s abusive or filled with infidelity or lies. Your partner should be someone who makes you happy, but they should not be the sole source of your happiness. They should not be a source of true happiness.
You should be happy within yourself, without any input from anything external ? a happiness that isn?t based on relationships, jobs, family, where you live, or what you own. That should be a base level of happiness for you, a happiness that can?t be taken away by a breakup, job loss, death of a loved one or anything else. That happiness always returns.
Happiness from your partner or relationship should be the cherry on top of that. It should be something you appreciate, but do not rely on. If you are looking at your partner as someone who should be providing that internal, base level of happiness, that?s unreasonable and almost guaranteed to make both you and your partner resent each other.
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You should expect your partner to spend time with you. Expecting your partner to make time to see you, call you, and text you is completely reasonable. You may have to work out the details of exactly how much time and when, but it is very realistic to expect a partner to want to spend time with you.
It?s also reasonable to expect the amount of time to increase, up to a certain point, as your relationship gets more serious. If it doesn?t, you may start to feel like you don?t matter to your partner and they aren?t making your relationship a priority.
When it comes to this one, it?s a good idea to talk to your partner about what you both consider to be reasonable when it comes to time. You might discuss what you each consider to be a minimum amount of time to see each other, call each other, and text each other is, as well as a maximum amount. If your numbers differ, you can then look for a compromise.
Unreasonable: your partner to want the same things you do
This is another tricky one. The point of a relationship is often to reach the same thing: to get married, have children, grow old together, etc. And in that regard, it is reasonable to expect a partner to want the same thing you do. The overall big things should be pretty much the same ? you might have slightly different timelines or visions of exactly what it looks like, but it?s the same basic idea.
But it?s not reasonable to expect them to agree with every single thing ever. You may disagree on career paths and choices, major purchases, religion, politics, and more. Disagreeing is not a sign of incompatibility unless you want it to be.
If you want your relationship to work, instead of expecting your partner to want exactly what you do, expect to find compromises on the things you don?t agree on. Compromise will make for a much happier and longer-lasting relationship than thinking you?ll find someone who will be a clone of yourself.
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Reasonable: Challenges and growth
It?s reasonable to expect that your relationship will face challenges and as a result of facing and overcoming those challenges, that both your relationship and each of you will grow.
Some of those challenges will be things like dramatically different opinions on things like politics, religion or parenting. Some of those challenges will be things like the loss of a child, infidelity, or catastrophic injury.
By facing these challenges together and seeing yourselves as a team, you?ll create greater intimacy and connection, deepening your love and strengthening your relationship. Over time, communication and challenges will change and you?ll find that things you once struggled with become easier.
You can?t have a relationship without at least a few expectations. If nothing else, you at least have an expectation that you and your partner will define the relationship ? even if that definition includes keeping things very casual. The key is being reasonable in your expectations and being able to identify and express them. When you can do that, you can create the relationship you want.