We all have expectations. We believe our work life should look and feel a certain way, our families should operate in a specific fashion, and that our relationships need to satisfy a number of variables to be “perfect.” Expectations are normal. But are they healthy? Let’s discuss.

In relationships, it should be normal to expect not to be abused in any way, gaslighted, or spoken down to. These expectations are healthy and save us from being with people who can cause deep emotional and physical trauma. But expectations surrounding what love looks like? That’s a different story.

We’ve all seen it before, the romance movie where the expression of love is near constant, the sex is wild and carefree, and the relationship is full of adventure and fun. And then we get into a relationship of our own. There are no love notes left for us everyday, the sex is good (but shouldn’t it be more passionate?), and most of our nights are spent reading together in bed or watching a new episode of our favorite series. We talk to friends whose boyfriend buys them flowers every week, and suddenly we think, “Should I be getting flowers every week?”

Are you starting to see how these expectations we forge can be harmful to our relationships?

Everyone is searching for a perfect relationship, and that perfection is based on a set of expectations that are, generally, unrealistic. Expecting to see eye-to-eye on everything, not running into conflicts, and having a constant stream of passion and adventure isn’t sustainable for anyone, regardless of how well-matched. Other common unrealistic expectations include:

  • Believing we should be the center of our partner’s attention
    • While a relationship should be a top priority, we all have other aspects of our life that demand attention, such as family, work, and friends. We should not expect our partner’s to neglect those aspects of their life for us.
  • Our partners should be able to tell what we’re thinking or feeling
    • No matter how wonderful our partners are, they cannot read our minds, and we shouldn’t expect them to. If we are upset or happy, we need to communicate these emotions, not expect them to be inherently understood.
  • A relationship should make us feel better about ourselves
    • A relationship can give us a lot of things, like support, care, and pleasure. It cannot, however, give us self-confidence or validation

Our expectations for our partners is not only unfair to them, since they are most likely trying their hardest, but it holds us back too. When we go into a relationship with unrealistic expectations, searching for perfection, we are robbing ourselves of a potentially beautiful and loving union.