Setting Realistic Expectations in a Relationship

by Sarah Casimong

From an early age, television, movies and books have provided a false idea of what romantic relationships are like. In real life Prince Charming doesn’t exist, and the hero doesn’t always save the girl. There is no perfect person who will meet your every need and expecting to find someone who will may set you up for disappointment. Going into a relationship with realistic expectations will give you a better chance of making it work.

When Expectations Lead to Disappointment

High expectations can lead to many let downs, especially if your partner doesn't know what you are expecting from her. You may be projecting your ideal person onto her, which can cause disappointment when she fails to live up to it, according to certified life skills coach Jacklyn Marcus's website Recharging Relationships. Unrealistic and unattainable expectations can destroy the relationship because your partner will never be able to reach your ideals.

Look Into Your Past

Your age, gender, religion and culture can all play a role in your expectations of a relationship, according to Marcus. Your expectations of a partner is shaped by your childhood experiences and likely mirrors what you saw and experienced in your family life, growing up. If you grew up in a family that openly expressed themselves, you may expect the same of your partner even though he may have had a different experience and may communicate differently.

Get Real

Once you are aware of the expectations you've adopted from your experiences, it's crucial that you acknowledge if you're harboring any unrealistic expectations. In the book “Get Smart! About Modern Romantic Relationships," life coach Michelle L. Casto warns readers not to expect your partner to fulfill all of your needs. Although movies portray love interests as saviors, your partner may not be capable of saving you, as much as he wants to help you. If you’re dealing with something like serious depression, talking to your partner may not be enough, you may need the help of a professional.

Modern relationships are more equal between partners than they were in the past, so do not expect your partner to uphold old standards. This can be any expectations related to gender roles -- for example, expecting a wife to cook and clean for her husband.

Talk About It

When setting realistic expectations in a relationship, it takes two. Good relationships require communication so that you are aware of what your partner expects and vice versa. This means not expecting your partner to immediately know your needs, desires and feelings. According to Marcus, both people need to listen, give and take feedback, as well as compromise. She stresses that it is important to establish boundaries and recognize when your desires cannot be met by your partner. If you want your partner to spend more time with you, but she expresses her need for more independence, you will need to discuss how you can compromise.

About the Author

Sarah Casimong is a Vancouver-based writer with a Bachelor's degree in journalism from Kwantlen Polytechnic University. She writes articles on relationships, entertainment and health. Her work can be found in the "Vancouver Observer", "Her Campus" and "Cave Magazine".

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