What are the expectations?
Often we have a conscious or subconscious idea of what a perfect relationship looks like. We then tend to put these expectations on a new partner without really getting to know them first.
What we really want to do at the beginning of a relationship is consider if our new partner meets our required standards. This is how we decide if they are right for us.
Only then can we start to discuss expectations for the relationship. These should be communicated and decided together.
We definitely should not be deciding how someone should behave without discussing it with them.
Otherwise, you are just setting them up to fail and you’ll end up having lots of arguments.
Remember, no one is perfect and no one can read your mind!
Reasonable expectations for a healthy relationship
People show affection in different ways, but a reasonable expectation in a relationship is to experience at least some physical touch. This could be cuddling, holding hands, or kissing.
Ideally, learn how much of this your partner is comfortable with. Some people really hate public displays of physical affection. If you don’t know this, it can be easy to think that your partner has gone off you or is cross with you.
Some people show affection more with their words and gestures. They might compliment you a lot, or buy you small gifts regularly.
Discuss with your partner early on how they show affection and how they like to receive it. This way you can both be clear on what is acceptable and how to demonstrate your love.
Showing your partner respect is crucial and it is reasonable to expect respect in return.
It can sometimes become harder to show respect after many years of a relationship as you become more comfortable with one another.
At this point, it is easy to say things in a blasé manner that may cause offense to your partner, without you really thinking about it.
All communication should be respectful in a healthy relationship, even if you have to make a conscious effort.
Try to empathize with and understand your partner when they are upset. But maintain your boundaries and don’t just accept unreasonable behaviors.
You and your romantic partner are a team. It is a reasonable expectation to be supported in both good and bad times.
You should both be able to encourage each other towards your personal goals. At the same time, you should be able to listen and support each other through struggles.
It is reasonable to expect your partner to make you a cup of tea and give you a hug when you feel sad.
But remember, they cannot read your mind. Don’t expect them to instantly know that you are upset or exactly what has bothered you.
Be clear with your communication so they can meet your relationship expectations.
Both you and your partner can impact each other with your actions so it is important to take this into consideration. Consider their opinions when making decisions.
Be careful you don’t make unnecessary sacrifices while still showing them that they matter. This way you can build a stronger connection and more trust in one another.
No decisions you make should be at the detriment of your partner’s wellbeing. It is reasonable to expect your partner to discuss important decisions with you, or let you know when they are doing something that might impact you.
To build a strong connection with your partner, make sure you are spending good quality time together.
It is a reasonable expectation for your partner to make time for you even if they have a busy schedule. If you are both extremely busy, be sure to devote specific time to the relationship.
Remember this should be a balance between you both. Ensure you each devote time to one another equally and one partner is not putting in more effort than the other.
It is also important not to expect your partner to sacrifice their own time for you. Allow them time to see their friends, or have some space for themself.
Perhaps discuss with each other what are reasonable expectations for the time you spend together.
In a good relationship, both you and your partner should show genuine interest in one another. When you feel excited, passionate, or interested in an activity or subject, it is reasonable to expect your partner to show interest.
They don’t have to always enjoy the same activities, but it is important that they show genuine interest in the things you care about.
In a romantic relationship, you are partners or a team. There should be equality in the way you behave with one another and in the actions you do for each other. It is not reasonable for one person to be doing all of the household chores while the other person sits by not helping.
It is part of respecting one another to feel that you are equals. Treat each other fairly, listen to each other’s perspectives, and provide an equal level of support to one another.
Intimacy is not just about sex or physical affection. It can also refer to emotional intimacy.
You and your partner should feel comfortable communicating your secrets and vulnerabilities with each other. This will help you gain a greater understanding of each other and build trust and closeness.
The idea is that your partner is also your best friend and someone with whom you feel safe.
It is reasonable to expect your partner to consider you a priority. You should be able to feel that you are the most important thing to them.
This, of course, comes with some level of compromise. There might be a day on which your partner must put their work or family first. If this is the case, remember that these aspects of their life are also important.
Just be sure that you come back to each other and can regain that focus on the relationship.
A good relationship is all about giving and taking. This doesn’t necessarily mean just financially. It should be expected that you are both generous with your time, emotional support, and finances.
Of course, one person may earn more than the other, or work longer hours. If this is the case, then there may be differences in what you can provide.
However, ensure you give as much as you can to each other and understand each other’s relationship expectations in this regard.
This is one of the most important relationship expectations and is non-negotiable. It is not possible to build trust and strength in the relationship without honesty from both people.
Discuss with one another what is important to know. You may want to know about their previous relationships or childhood upbringing. Then, it is reasonable to expect honest responses if you ask about these aspects of your partner’s life.
Lies and deceit in a relationship are unhealthy. This kind of behavior is sure to result in mistrust, insecurities, and a lot of arguing. It is totally unacceptable to be dishonest if you want to build a strong relationship.
However, this does not mean that you should have access to your partner’s private messages and emails. This is an invasion of their privacy. Strength comes from trusting one another and disclosing all important information.
As important as it is to spend time together, it is just as important to allow your partner some space. It can be very easy to want to spend all your time together, especially in a new relationship. However, this can result in a codependent and unhealthy relationship.
Any parts of your life that you treasured prior to starting a new relationship must still be maintained. Be sure that you and your partner continue to spend time with your own friends and engage in separate activities at times. It is good to have time apart and miss each other.
Everyone has a different level of emotional intelligence and expresses themselves in different ways. It is not reasonable to expect your partner to be able to express themself in the same way as you.
This is particularly evident in the differences between men and women. Men are typically less emotional and won’t be able to deal with their or your emotions in the same way you might hope.
Women generally show more vulnerability and empathy than men, but then might expect the same in return. Be mindful of this in your relationship and set clear expectations of how you each respond to these emotions.
Prior to a relationship, we might have an idea in our heads of our perfect partner. It is unfair to put these unrealistic expectations on a partner as nobody is perfect.
It would be impossible for someone to meet every expectation without fail. Everyone makes mistakes from time to time and we must make allowances for this.
If you hold someone to a very high standard, then they are likely to let you down regularly. We are all human and cannot be at our best at all times.
Decide which are healthy expectations and which are not, so there is no unfair pressure on your partner.
Source of happiness
Many people make the claim that their partner ‘completes me’. But you were not half a person before you met them. Your partner should add something to your life and enhance the happiness you feel.
You alone are responsible for your happiness, not your partner. This is an unrealistic and unfair expectation to put on someone.
As previously mentioned, people often make mistakes. Expecting that your partner will make you happy is only going to put pressure on them and cause you a lot of pain when they occasionally mess up.
To be loved as you love
Everyone has a different way of expressing their love. These different expressions can be described as love languages.
There are five love languages; gifts, words of affection, acts of service, touch, and quality time. Often people have one dominant love language but may show others on occasion.
Try to learn your partner’s love language and let them learn yours. Your partner may not be very good at giving compliments but might show their affection by giving you flowers or small gifts.
Understanding how your partner expresses themself can teach you to recognize and appreciate their feelings. This will also help to reduce any unrealistic expectations of how you feel they should love you.
Wanting the same things
In a long-term relationship, it is common to share similar goals for the future. However, things can change over time, so it is important to have regular discussions about the future. It is unreasonable to think that someone’s choices in their 20s will still apply in their 30s.
Career paths, family ideals, and home locations may alter with time. Your partner could get offered a job overseas which throws off your plans. You might unexpectedly become pregnant and need to move to a bigger home. Life often throws you curveballs so it is important to be flexible.
Important changes should be discussed and decided together. Your partner’s ideals may change drastically throughout the relationship, so be willing to consider new opportunities together.
How to communicate your relationship expectations
One of the main causes of a relationship breakdown is unmet expectations. Often, these are unreasonable expectations or requirements that just have not been discussed.
You can’t read each other’s minds, or meet unrealistically high expectations. Decide together that you will communicate expectations and be clear with one another.
Open communication is key to managing healthy expectations in a relationship. Ask your partner what their expectations of the relationship are and tell them yours. This communication should be clear but considerate. Never set ultimatums or expect your partner to sacrifice important things.
Often, we will have a different idea of which relationship rules are important. It is important when discussing your relationship to keep an open mind and listen to the other person’s perspective.
We will often have to make compromises in a relationship for both people to feel happy. If this is the case, be mindful of what you have decided together. Nitpicking and feeling upset by small things will come across as disrespectful and likely will result in arguments.
Find a comfortable middle ground that you can agree on and try to stick to it.