Are your expectations hurting your relationship?
It’s a difficult question to answer, especially if you don’t know exactly what your loved one wants. What do they expect from you, and just as important, what do you expect from them?
These are tough conversations that must be had if you want a meaningful and fulfilling relationship with the person you love. The first challenge is knowing what you want. We all deserve certain qualities in a committed relationship- respect, trust, and honesty- but our fairytale versions of love may be setting us up for failure.
Know your needs and share them!
It’s important you understand your own expectations before being critical of the way your partner treats you. Are your expectations reasonable? Have you communicated them in a way that’s genuine and loving? This may not be the best news you’ve heard today, but expecting your partner to solve all your problems is an unreasonable expectation. Instead, expect your partner to support your journey of self-improvement. Communicate with them how can they help. Remember, it’s called self-improvement for a reason! (Eilers, McKinney 2013)
Here’s an unreasonable expectation… Conflict is bad and should be avoided at all costs.
In fact, conflict is healthy and to be honest, unavoidable in any
relationship that hopes to last. It is how a couple navigates and resolves the conflict that is key. Healthy, constructive conflict can lead to greater understanding. Boundaries are identified, needs are expressed, and feelings are heard. (Navarra, 2015)
How about this one… My partner loves me, so they will never become attracted to anyone else.
As if there’s a switch in our head that gets turned off once we enter a relationship. It is human nature to be attracted, physically or otherwise, to other people. Healthy couples can find people attractive without actually wanting to be with them. The difference here is in action. Of course, too much crushing can be a problem, especially if it stems from deep dissatisfaction with your current relationship, but don’t feel guilty for your feelings.
Do you find yourself getting jealous when your partner talks about a celebrity crush? If so, why? If not, good! It means you trust them and understand human nature!
The Honeymoon should last forever!
We’ve all experienced the so-called Honeymoon Stage in our relationship, where things are going so well, it all just seems perfect. Well folks, it’s not going to last forever, and it shouldn’t. That’s because we haven’t tried and failed to meet our lovers expectations. We haven’t experienced meaningful conflict. We haven’t opened up in a way that leaves us feeling flawed and vulnerable. It’s comfortable when there is no struggle, but that’s not how we grow. Lean into the discomfort and understand that if your love is going to last, your partner needs to truly understand who you are, and what you want. And the only way to get there is through healthy communication. Once you're comfortable being yourself with your partner, it becomes easier for them to do the same. All relationships evolve, and that growth process can be much more enjoyable if you and your lover are on the same page. (Kosik, 2017)
1. Kosik, A. H. (2017, July 17). Self-Interest is Not Selfish in Relationships. Retrieved February 17, 2018, from https://www.gottman.com/blog/self-interest-not-selfish-relationships
2. Navarra, B., PSY.D. (2015, February 11). 3 Research-Based Tips for a Happy and Healthy Relationship. Retrieved February 17, 2018, from https://www.gottman.com/blog/3-research-based-tips-for-a-happy-and-healthy-relationship
3. Eilers, Becky and McKinney, Kaith (2013) "Expectations in Relationships," Ethos: Vol. 2014 , Article 16.
Christian is focused on quality improvement and organizational development for the SPARK program at WestCare Pacific Islands. He is passionate about leadership, community development, and animal welfare. He has been a resident of southern Guam since July 2016 and spends a lot of time outdoors with his girlfriend of three years and their two pups, Tessa and Four. In his free time, you can find him at the beach or on his roof spotting shooting stars.