Lower your expectations? I know, it’s not exactly the stuff of inspirational videos. But this suggestion has its place.
We live within a culture that often makes promises it cannot keep. Relationship promises often arrive wrapped up in fairy tales, romantic comedies, and internet memes. They may not use the same words but they are built on “once upon a time” and “happily ever after.”
As a result, you may feel conditioned to experience “love at first sight” with a “soul mate” who will “complete” you. Such fantasy-based expectations set us up for a big letdown.
Change Your Expectations
To be clear, this isn’t really about lowering your standards. What you are being asked to consider here is to recognize when the bar has been set at an unrealistic height. Pop culture and peer pressure may have led you to expect you will find someone who will:
- anticipate your every need.
- love you unconditionally.
- take care of you forever.
- adore you without fail.
- always want the same things you want.
- …and so on.
This makes for a fun romance novel to read on the beach. It is also, however, a terribly counterproductive blueprint for your love life. Do not let fairy tales guide your preferences.
5 Realistic Relationship Expectations
This just in: nobody’s perfect. Mr. or Mrs. Right is not a realistic expectation if “right” means flawless to you. No two people can possibly connect on all levels but there can be a certain charm in your differences. Do your best to stay open-minded and curious.
2. Honest, Direct Communication
This will be your foundation for any relationship. You have every right to expect it and even demand it. When dealing with the aforementioned flaws and relationship conflict (see below), communication skills are indispensable.
Often, our communication patterns are learned early in life. They reflect our upbringing but aren’t, necessarily, the best ways to connect. You may find that a great deal of patience and cooperation is required, as well as the help of a skilled professional.
3. Neither of You are Mind-readers
Just because you long to be in the kind of relationship in which you finish each other’s sentences, doesn’t mean clairvoyance is involved. Expecting a deep connection from the start is not realistic. When partners expect each other to know what the other is thinking, misunderstanding and miscommunication happen often.
Relationships are more productive and engaging when you share your thoughts, ideas, and desires. Assumptions are generally not productive anyway. Discovery and evolution are the fun of growing together.
4. Disagreements, Compromise, and Resolution are Routine
Conflict is inevitable. However, we tend to learn from novels and media that fighting between couples is a sign of a poor match. Yet, healthy partners can disagree honestly and respectfully, growing closer and stronger as a unit.
Pro tip: a relationship is not a competition. Accept the existence of differences and honor them. Prioritize the relationship first and focus on learning healthy conflict resolution skills and forgiveness.
Expect that no one “completes” you. It is essential to maintain your autonomy, even as a committed relationship progresses. Take care to develop your individual life. Not even your soul mate should be with you 24/7.
Also, be aware of your own tendencies toward codependency, low self-esteem, or any trust issues. Your past is important to address before you meet a long-term partner. Independence and self-confidence help prepare the way for future happiness, together and apart.
How Therapy Can Help
It’s not easy to identify your own self-sabotaging patterns. By definition, they aren’t obvious. That’s where someone like me comes into the picture. Your therapy sessions are a safe space in which you can explore your inner world. This will go a long way in recalibrating your expectations in a way that a) factor in real-world circumstances and b) honor your needs and safety.
If you’ve already met someone you like, couples counseling is an excellent option. You don’t need to wait for times of trouble to start. Therapy during the early phases of a relationship can help drag your collective expectations out into the light. Thus, they can be examined and re-imagined. Consider this to be preventative care.
Let’s connect today to schedule a confidential consultation. In this case, I feel confident it will live up to your expectations.