-Mayah Taylor, MA
Expectations in a relationship can be helpful in getting each participants needs met. They can also be damaging when we set unrealistic expectations upon the relationship, the other person, and even ourselves. Today’s blog focuses on tips on how to set healthy expectations in your relationship.
In order to begin setting healthy expectations, one must first understand what expectations are. Expectations, simply put, are certain ideas about how we would like situations to turn out, or how we would like other people to behave. Having good communication and defining expectations early on in the relationship is key to the success of the relationship. Each person must know what they themselves want out of the relationship but also what the other wants out of the relationship. Ask yourself questions such as: “What kind of relationship do I want? How do I want to be treated? What will make me happy?” This gives you both a chance to communicate similarities as well as differences about what it is you want from each other and also what you want from the relationship. Additionally, having the conversation allows each person in the relationship to identify whether they are able to meet the other’s expectations and also identify whether their own expectations will be met by the other person.
If you find that your expectations aren’t being met it might not be a sign that the relationship will not work. First reevaluate whether you clearly explained and communicated your expectations to your partner. If you did, then begin to ask yourself: are the expectations that I have realistic for my partner to meet or are they unrealistic? For example if your partner by nature is an unhealthy person, placing the expectation for them to be a healthy person even though they’ve already shown you they are unhealthy might not work. Furthermore you may find your needs and expectations are not met which in turn can fuel frustration with your partner, dissatisfaction, and strain the relationship. In this example, you must also remember to be reasonable and realistic with your expectations. Also, remember to keep the lines of communication open if you are finding your needs aren’t being met. It could be that the other person is struggling to meet your needs or doesn’t know how.
Expectations are different for each person and are always relative. What may be realistic or fair to one person, may be crazy or out of the question for another person. Sometimes a compromise may be necessary. Now understand that when I say compromise, I am by no means saying lay all your expectations to the side or having no expectations at all. Simply put, even with expectations comes the discussion of give and take. There may come a time where you have to evaluate your expectations, your partner’s ability meet those expectations, and your ability to compromise by asking: “How much am I willing to give or take for the happiness of the other person and mutual benefit of the relationship?” Be very honest with yourself when you are discussing compromising on expectations that you have. It is important to ask yourself: “Would I still be satisfied if I compromised on this expectation?” And, “If I am willing to compromise, how much?” “If my partner wants me to drop my expectation completely, could I still be happy and not feel unfulfilled or resentful?” Further, “If I’m not willing to compromise, can I discuss my needs and see if my partner is willing to budge on this issue?” These are important questions to ask yourself when compromising on expectations. If you feel that you will not be happy or satisfied or fulfilled in the event you compromise with your partner on expectations you have or if your partner doesn’t want to budge on the issue, you may need to reevaluate the relationship. Above all you want to remember the importance of having healthy expectations that leave each person in the relationship fulfilled, happy, and safe in the relationship.
Expectations are crucial to any relationship. Knowing what you want and communicating that to the other person is extremely important to do early on in the relationship. Also keep in mind whether or not your expectations are realistic or unrealistic and sometimes compromising may become necessary so that everyone’s needs are still met. We hope that these tips for setting healthy expectations help you in your relationships. If you enjoyed this post, then read our post on 3 beliefs to reassess when clashing with your partner!
Leave us a comment here and let us know what your success and failures with expectations have been.