How To Deal With Expectations In A Relationship

Relationships can be quite hard, but they become even harder when you have unrealistic expectations. Here's how to handle expectations in a relationship.

Knowing what you want out of a relationship is important if you don’t know what you want, it is something you should give some serious thought to before getting seriously involved with someone.

It is important however to make sure that your expectations regarding your relationship and your significant other are rational and based in reality. Knowing what you want is the most important step you need to take in order to create the life you want to live.

Whether you know one day you want marriage and a family, or you want someone who understands your intense adoration for Sandra Bullock movies, having expectations is a good thing.

But it is important to remember it can also hinder a relationship. Sometimes expectations can run too high on your part or your new love’s part. Which is why it is important to balance your expectations within the context of your relationship. Expect them to remember your three-month anniversary but don’t expect a trip to Cuba for it—that’s a little much.

Be Fearless and Know What You Want

Young thinking couple looking at each other

Some of the best ways to find out what you want are by the process of elimination—in other words, finding out what you don’t want helps you narrow down what you do.

By getting out in the dating game and going on a few dates you will be able to know with more certainty what you want from your life and what you want from a potential partner.

The great thing about expectations is that they are a way you can ensure that you’re working towards your goals. Despite your age, it’s always good to have this in the back of your mind because there’s no chance you’ll get what you want from life if you’re constantly settling for ‘good enough’. So be fearless and honest in saying and pursuing what it is you want from life.

Expectations: The Bad Side

Expectations can get out of hand somewhat easily. Sometimes your expectations can put too much pressure on a date which is never good. We all have unconscious expectations of a person before we even meet them.

But those preformulated expectations can hurt a potential relationship. For example, if you expect them to be wealthy, buy you dinner, or expect them to buy you gifts, you might want to ask yourself if those expectations are based in reality.

Besides, it’s far nicer to receive a gift or a phone call as a surprise, rather than expecting it. Expectations don’t always work for us. Sometimes they work against us. They can cause disappointment.

And they’re not always based on the context of circumstances. It’s better to expect a date to be kind and compassionate than to expect them to look exactly like Channing Tatum.

Their looks, career and material assets shouldn’t be the deciding factor in whether or not a relationship will work out. You have to focus on the important aspects of a person—how they laugh, what they are passionate about, how they treat animals, what they do in their spare time, etc.

Fooling Yourself

woman angry at her husband

One aspect of relationship expectations that many people have trouble with, is expecting the people you date to be as honest, hard-working, empathetic, *insert chosen trait here*, and/or caring, as you yourself are.

This, unfortunately, leads to a lot of heartaches. By expecting someone to be as honest as you are you’re setting yourself up to be hurt. It is important to remember that other people see the world in a different way than you do.

Some people don’t like communication, some people don’t like country music. We’re all different and you have to remember that they may not be as honest or forthright as you are.

It is the same when it comes to teaching an old dog new tricks. You can’t go into a relationship expecting your potential match to change for you. If you do this, you are essentially fooling yourself into thinking you can change someone.

When 9/10 times people don’t change unless they want to. The same goes for your love interest, say they like most things about you but don’t like the music you listen to. It’s fine if they don’t like it but them expecting you to stop listening to your music is something that isn’t okay.

Differences in Expectations

Chances are, you’re very much in love with your boyfriend or girlfriend. You see them through rose-colored glasses and any flaws that other people can see, you can’t. You believe you’re both meant to be together and you act in accordance with that belief.

You’re theirs and they’re yours. It’s as simple as that, right? Well, no, it’s more complicated than that. First and foremost, whoever you’re in a relationship with is an independent person who has had a life before you—with their own triumphs, adversity, problems, and beliefs, and you can’t expect that they will think the same way that you do.

You can’t expect they will have the same expectations as you do. You will both have very big differences between what you would want and expect to do on a six-month anniversary and what they would want to do.

You have to keep in mind that everyone has different expectations for different holidays, circumstances, and events. This isn’t a bad thing and it’s easy to deal with. To mitigate the possibility of disappointment all you need to do is talk to one another.

Standards and Expectations

Angry couple

Standards and expectations are different things. The expectation is based primarily on what you believe the other person “can” or “should” do for you. Standards, on the other hand, are requirements, qualities, morals, habits, and/or ethics, that you as an individual deem inherent in any acceptable person.

For example, most people would not be happy if their date started yelling and screaming at a waiter who got their order wrong. Your standards and expectations should always be high but when it comes to expectations, you do need to be realistic.

Standards and expectations shouldn’t be lowered just because you expect to date someone who looks exactly like your favorite movie star. But, expectations have to be based in reality. Expecting your boyfriend or girlfriend of seven months to take you on an all-expenses-paid trip to Paris is an unrealistic expectation.

Perfectly Imperfect

Expectations, even reasonable ones, will not always be met and you will be disappointed. It’s just a fact of life. Disappointment comes and goes but like everything else it needs to be balanced. Expectations need to be balanced with reality.

And disappointment needs to be balanced with successful fulfillment of expectations and needs. Your sweetheart may not always be able to meet your expectations—maybe they get you the wrong gift or forget an important event, but you will not always be able to meet theirs either.

We are all perfectly imperfect creatures roaming around this earth trying to better ourselves. And sometimes we fail. Keeping this in mind will help negate the disappointment when they forget your anniversary or your birthday.

People make mistakes all the time and life gets busy. So don’t pretend to be perfect, no one is, don’t settle for “good enough” but keep expectations in a relationship grounded in reality.

About the author


I am an old soul. A writer. Stargazer. A reader. I’m strong, independent, and completely in love with everything that has to do with writing. I believe that everyone should have the chance and opportunity to follow their dreams and create a life they love.

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