A big part of having a successful relationship is maintaining reasonable expectations. However, when couples start having unrealistic expectations, their needs will frequently go unmet which often lead to increased levels of unhappiness and dissatisfaction.
When our spouses fail to live up to our expectations, the result is almost always feelings of frustration, anger, and even resentment. To create a happier, healthier, and more intimate relationship in your life, you must avoid these next 8 unrealistic expectations in relationships.
We know that having realistic expectations will enhance your relationship because your spouse actually stands a chance of meeting them.
But, when we go about our relationships with unrealistic expectations, believing that our partners should meet these as a simple requirement and sign of their love for us, we might find ourselves in a slippery slope fairly quickly.
In my experience, as a relationship Coach, there are eight specific unrealistic expectations in relationships you must avoid as a couple if you’re serious about creating a loving and supportive environment in which both partners can grow and express themselves fully and openly.
These eight unrealistic expectations are very subtle in nature, as well as insidious, and tend to find their ways into our relationships very easily.
Perhaps because they come across so innocent, and we believe there is no harm in harbouring some of them.
The reality, however, is that they have the power to fester and poison your relationship over the long haul.
Typically with resentment is the end result.
So, if you want to create a happier, healthier, and more intimate relationship you must,
Avoid believing in and having these following unrealistic expectations or ideas:
1. My partner should be able to read my mind
In counselling, this is oftentimes called “mind-reading.”
The thing is, we’re all guilty of this at times.
Is the belief that if our partner genuinely cared, and was a perfect fit for us, they would be able to figure out what we want and need.
They should just “know.”
Unfortunately, this simply isn’t true.
This is also very unrealistic.
Imagine if your partner held you to the same standard – feeling dissatisfied or even angry when you’re unable to know all the wants and needs whenever they have them, without telling.
Harbouring this unrealistic expectation in your relationship will end up causing a lot of fighting and heartache.
But, you can help yourself out by letting your partner know what you need from them by actually telling them.
At the same time, ask what your partner needs from you, and be open and receptive to what they tell you.
A relationship grows and is incredibly satisfying when our needs are being met but we also know we are doing a good job at meeting our spouse’s needs.
It’s when there is uncertainty and we feel lost in knowing whether we’re doing the right thing(s) are not, that things tend to go south.
If you can learn to simply communicate with each other what you both want, and remain receptive to what the other tells you, you’ll both be better off and happier in the long run.
Don’t play mind games.
Definitely avoid expecting your partner to read your mind.
2. Zero fighting (ever)
I can tell you now that no relationship is 100% smooth sailing.
You’re two different people with two different sets of beliefs and ways of viewing the world, so differences of opinion and conflict are bound to happen.
Your needs and interests don’t match 100%.
Your likes and dislikes aren’t exactly the same.
Unless you’re in a relationship with yourself, because you were somebody completely unique and different from you, there will be disagreements.
There used to be this idea that a sign of conflict in a relationship is a sign that the relationship is in trouble.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
The presence of conflict in your relationship is definitely not a sign that things are not going well.
Research into relationships shows us that the issue is not the presence of conflict but rather how we choose to deal with conflict.
The same goes for differences between two people.
Being different from your partner isn’t an issue – it is how you choose to deal with the differences that make all the difference in the end.
So let this expectation go that there shouldn’t be any fighting or conflict in your relationship.
It is an unrealistic expectation that will only end up hurting you, especially when you do feel peeved off but don’t know what to do with him because of this unspoken rule you have.
A much better strategy is to feel what you feel, and allow your partner to take you off whenever that happens, and then deal with it together to resolve it.
That will create resiliency in your relationship – not the absence of conflict or zero fighting.
3. The right partner will make my life perfect
There are benefits to having a partner. According to research by the Harvard Medical School, there is fascinating — and compelling — research suggesting that married people enjoy better health than single people.
For example, as compared with those who are single, those who are married tend to:
- live longer
- have fewer strokes and heart attacks
- have a lower chance of becoming depressed
- be less likely to have advanced cancer at the time of diagnosis and more likely to survive cancer for a longer period of time survive a major operation more often.
But, there are disadvantages, too.
- any difficulties your spouse experiences become your difficulties also
- their baggage becomes your baggage
- many couples have children which as a whole new layer of responsibilities and often lack of freedom/independence
- Time is not necessarily your own anymore – because there are two people to think of in a relationship.
The reality is that you can expect that some parts of your life to most likely improve while others may not or become more difficult.
The reality is that no one’s life is perfect, and you cannot expect your partner to make your life perfect.
Your happiness is your responsibility.
Whenever a partner in a relationship expects the other one to lift them up in some way or another, the whole relationship suffers in the end.
Now, it’s important that you read that fully because of course, we have to lift each other up from time to time.
No, what I’m talking about here is expecting your partner to fill the void of unhappiness, joyousness, meaninglessness etc. that’s within you.
That is an unrealistic expectation.
They cannot, and should not, become a crutch for you.
If that happens, the relationship will become crippled over time.
I’ve seen it happen time and time again.
Yes, your partner can enhance your life experience, but they won’t and shouldn’t provide perfection.
4. My partner will always be available when I need them
Most good partners will be available to us as much as possible – especially when we need them.
But, the reality is that everyone has other things to do besides tending to their needs.
Our partners are and should be, people in their own right.
That means, with their own lives, interests, friends, hobbies, etc.
Being an independent person who grows independent of the relationship as well, is a good thing for the relationship.
It’s when partners end up becoming reliant on the relationship to make them happy or fulfilled, that the relationship ends up becoming a crutch in a way that it was never intended to be.
And the relationship suffers as a result.
The truth is that your partner has things to take care of, and sometimes won’t be available to you.
You should learn to be OK with that.
Our ability to be there for others varies from day to day.
There will be times your partner isn’t available physically or emotionally.
And we all have our good and bad days when we simply can’t be available in the way that our partners want.
Having this unrealistic expectation that your partner will always be available when you need them, is not healthy.
Like I said earlier, they most likely would try to be, but that doesn’t mean that they should be – in my opinion.
If there are things you can do for yourself, by pushing yourself a bit, then rather do that as it will not just serve your own resiliency and growth, but also your relationship in the end.
5. I will always be the only important thing in my partner’s life
This one is an extension of the previous – it’s unrealistic to believe and expect to be the only important thing in your partner’s life.
And, truth be told, you actually don’t want to be the only important thing in your partner’s life 24/7.
If you are the only important thing in your partner’s life 24/7, I can guarantee you that something is amiss in your relationship.
You are leaving a lot of growth on the table.
More than that, people with passion and a strong commitment to a goal(s) are highly attractive and more likely to keep your interest also for the long term.
When you become the sole source of your partner’s happiness and interest, your relationship will suffer in the end.
When people grow independent of the relationship also, the relationship is strengthened as a result.
Again, don’t rely on your partner to fulfil you or be your sole source of happiness – find meaning and purpose outside of your relationship where you can grow as a person.
Then bring that growth back into your relationship to enhance the whole thing.
And, by the same token, allow your partner to grow and connect with other people and things outside of your relationship.
It is good for him or her.
Nobody wants to feel like they’re in a prison where they are reliant on the prison to sustain their joy and happiness in life.
6. Everything in our relationship should be 50/50
Not only is this an unrealistic expectation, but it is also a sign that you haven’t been in any real relationship for an extended period of time if you harbour this one.
I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt, after 12 years of marriage, and being a relationship coach, that relationships are not 50/50.
They are 100/100.
The only thing is sometimes you need to carry 90% of the burden while your partner can only muster 10%.
But there will come a time when it’s the other way round.
The reality of life determines that everyone has different interests and strengths – which means there will be times when you get to spend more time on your interests while your partner takes care of business on the other end (with kids for example).
But, there will be other times when you have to pick up the slack while your partner pursues their goal.
There will be times when one of you will make more money than the other.
Other times, one of you will spend more time with the kids.
And that’s okay.
There will also be times when one of you will carry a larger burden of the housework, bill paying, yard work, or home maintenance.
It’s all okay.
Nothing in a relationship is ever truly 50/50.
The sooner you can let go of this unrealistic expectation, the sooner you can actually get back to actually enjoying your relationship.
Life is not 50/50.
Marriage is not 50/50.
Instead, step up when it’s required, and at other times ask your partner to do the same when it’s required.
7. All we need is each other (and love)
This unrealistic expectation is complete rubbish.
I don’t need my wife, I want my wife.
I was fine before she came along, and will most likely be fine should she leave this earth before me (I hope that doesn’t happen though).
The point is, we don’t need someone else to be okay.
That is a myth and a false belief we buy into that only causes us to become dependent and reliant, and dare I say, weak at times.
My wife knows that I need other people – friends, family, colleagues etc.
She knows I need to work out and train hard.
She knows I need time alone from time to time (I’m an introvert).
She knows that I sometimes need a break from the kids and need her to step up.
She knows that I need more than just her. And she does too.
Now, it’s been said that the best possible partner for you can provide for 70-80% of your needs, and that’s probably true.
My wife meets my most important needs and fills my life – but I don’t have the expectancy that all we need is each other.
That would be me turning her into a crutch – which she is not.
I also want her to need more than what I can provide.
Because for the reasons we mentioned before – I’m not perfect, I have other interests, and she needs to be around other people.
So, I encourage her to pursue some of the things she is passionate about and fills her up – like photography and horses.
8. Good relationships are easy
I do know who came up with this idea, but it is an unrealistic expectation I have come across in my coaching practice.
It’s the idea that good relationships are easy – i.e. they don’t take hard work because there are easy.
Nothing further from the truth.
Yes, I agree that a good relationship should be relatively easy most of the time, but never easy all of the time.
Because life is life, it throws curveballs at us, and that sometimes makes things fairly challenging.
The difference however between a good relationship and a bad one, is that a good relationship doesn’t have the belief that things should be easy and has the resiliency to deal with whatever life throws at it.
Couples who have this unrealistic expectation that good relationships are easy, get disillusioned very quickly when life actually shows up.
Take the challenge of a loving but sexless marriage for example – that’s no easy thing.
Or, when they realize that creating a good relationship actually takes hard work.
The reality is that a relationship is a constantly evolving thing that requires regular attention to detail and maintenance.
Save yourself a lot of heartache by letting this unrealistic expectation go – that good relationships are easy.
It’s simply not true.
There are easy most of the time, but they do have their fair share of challenges.
They just deal with them more effectively.
Relationships are challenging.
But, when you have unrealistic expectations in relationships, a romantic relationship becomes impossible.
Not only are you constantly dissatisfied, but your partner is also likely to become frustrated with you.
My challenge to you is to take a look at what you expect from your partner and determine if it would enhance your relationship to make a few adjustments to your expectations.
It might be time for a conversation with your significant other.
I hope this served you in some way or another.