Updated: Jul 22, 2021
from the relationship?
Are your needs being met?
Have you set a list of rules that dictate your level of happiness?
The truth is, having expectations can cause real problems in relationships. They are different from having your own standards.
Standards are a level you set yourself:
"This is what I need."
"These are things that are important to me."
Expectations are, "this is what I expect of you."
The problem with expectations within a relationship is that everyone has them, and they don't always match up, even if the intention behind them is the same.
You both could be striving for the same thing, but due to lack of communication, you may find yourself feeling unheard, unappreciated, or even unloved.
For example, one person could expect the other to put out the bins, while the other person expects regular sex. If both people assume the other person knows what they want, it's likely to lead to tension and resentment in the relationship if they don't talk about it and therefore don't get what they want.
Even feelings and thoughts of "Well, if they loved me, they would…" (But that's a whole different topic and blog!!)
For now, we will concentrate on our expectations.
To note at this point, while I am highlighting the issues that arise due to mismatched expectations, I am not saying you don't have a right to expect anything out of the relationship.
You deserve dignity and respect, and so does your partner. I like to think of these as our standards and our needs, and when we can communicate them clearly and explain what that looks like to us, we can build a relationship together that meets both our expectations.
So how do we manage expectations in a relationship?
We have first to acknowledge where we are focusing our attention. For instance, you hang out the washing in a certain way, but your partner does it differently. As annoying as it may be, are they wrong for doing it their way?
If we make 'our way' the right way, we make the other person's actions wrong by default. And who wants to do anything if it's always going to be wrong!?
We need to focus our appreciation on the things the other person is doing right and not the differences in our expectations.
As I am sure you can relate, expectations without appreciation lead to nagging, complaining, frustration, and arguing over the silliest of things. (And yup, we've all been there!)
What You Can Do Instead:
1. Respect – Showing respect is essential in any relationship. Don't disregard your partner's opinion or correct them. Instead, value the other person's view and needs and hear what they tell you.
2. Empathy – Empathy requires compassion, and compassion is the core of good communication and deep, meaningful relationships—the ability to understand and share feelings of another.
3. Value Your Partner Over the Rules – Consider them, their interests, needs, and expectations over the rules you set. Then, value the relationship and allow conversations that open ways that meet both your expectations.
4. Quality Time – Don't take for granted that the relationship is there; take the time to nurture and grow the connection. Devote time to each other and demonstrate that your relationship is a priority.
5. Let It Go – Learn to discuss issues as they arise and then let them go. We want to feel heard and valued even if we disagree, but it's easy to get stuck in a loop by not allowing the other person to feel heard. The same repetitive argument can resurface time and time again. If you need to, take a break, consider what you are trying to communicate, come together and find a way to let it go.
6. Never Question Intent in The Relationship – If we believe someone's intention is pure, we never have to question their intention to hurt us. Question the behaviour, not the intention.
Intention is the very nature of your relationship, and challenging it can lead to a breakdown in trust and connection. When we question their intention, it is more often with judgment and assumptions. We tell them we think they meant to hurt us, and they are bad for what they did. Something small can get blown out of proportion very quickly when we go on the attack.
7. Never Use the Relationship to Win – Relationships succeed when built on trust, give and take, mutual understanding, and communication. Using your relationship as a bargaining tool or threatening it with ultimatums will shut down communication in an instant. And while you might consider it a win, the relationship loses.
8. Don't Give Up – On the effort and attention. People get comfortable when their relationship establishes and while some things will naturally slip into a more comfortable position, never stop considering your partner's needs and desires. When you have two people invested in growing and developing themselves AND showing up for their partner, you will have two people heavily invested in building a fantastic relationship.
9. Live in Your Own Relationship – It's easy to compare, to wonder if we are on the right track, do we fit 'normal', but the truth is… there is no normal. Stop trying to fit into other people's expectations of a relationship or googling to find out if this is how things should be (yes, we've all been there looking for answers).
The truth is the relationship itself has the answers to your questions, and only the people involved in it know what's best. We all have our unique personalities, needs and values, and we are sharing them with another person. No one else has what you have, so find the answers together.
10. Appreciation over Expectation – To manage your expectations within the relationship, you need to understand the importance of appreciation and commit to showing your partner every day. When we focus on the negative, that is what we will find. However, if you focus on your partner's positive qualities and what they bring into the relationship, it will allow for a much stronger, more profound connection.
For anything to succeed in life, you have to make a conscious effort to work at it, and that's no different when we are building a healthy, meaningful relationship.
Or maybe you've landed here because you think it's time to walk away.
It might be, but don't do it if you haven't had a chance to communicate properly and certainly don't do it because you've set expectations and secret tests your partner isn't aware of, because they will fail, and you both will be hurt.
Communication is the key.
A complicated, uncomfortable conversation will give you answers you can apply to a lifetime together. Or you can guess what each other needs, and more often than not, fall flat on your face.
I'm sharing this with you, not because I have nailed it as the perfect partner (ha!) but as a reminder to myself.
I am learning and sharing parts of my journey along the way.
And every day, I am committed to being the best version of myself so that I can also be the best partner I can be within my relationship.
Here's to love, laughter, and living your happily ever after… xxx