How To Tell if Your Expectations Are Too High For a Relationship

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When a relationship is having problems, or is ending, we understandably feel lost and disappointed. Very often, it is a matter of one partner not meeting the expectations of another…but were those expectations fair in the first place? Do our relationships fail because we’re expecting too much from our partner?

Quite possibly. When it comes to expectations in a relationship, and looking at what you are want from your other half, you better take a step back and evaluate your needs.

Are your expectations derived from fiction?

“You first need to consider is this something that you see in the movies?” said Chris Seiter, a relationship consultant and breakup specialist since 2012. 

Seiter is referring to romantic gestures, to the relationships that start in a fast-paced, intense manner from day one. Often, individuals will move into a committed relationship before even getting to truly know someone.

“There are expectations that are deemed reasonable where you want to see your partner more than once a week, or speak to them more often than you do (within reason), if you have been together for some time and are wanting to take things to the next step, for example moving in together after being in a relationship for a long time,” said Seiter.

Taking a step back and asking yourself is what I am asking reasonable or am I expecting too much of my partner, is it too soon in the relationship for what you are expecting. Am I romanticizing because of a romantic film I have watched? Am I expecting my partner to show my love a certain way just because I am comparing us to my friends relationship with their partner?

Standards and expectations are not the same thing

When we have any or many expectations of others, we end up feeling let down or betrayed. It’s a form of self-sabotage. “The goal in a relationship is to limit the amount of expectations on our partners,” said Belinda Ginter, Certified Emotional Kinesiologist, BET.

Now, many confuse expectations with standards.

Expectations are projecting your version of your ideals on someone else and holding them to that level. Standards are a series of beliefs, value systems and traits you expect to see in an individual you choose to date.

Belinda Ginter

Ginter totally supports people having high standards and only calling forth into their lives what they truly desire. Yet, expectations is a different thing.

“I don’t support high expectations because in client after client, I see they are left feeling less than and disappointed and let down when they play the expectation game,” said Ginter.

Expressing expectations is the key, but how do you do it?

The reason people marry is because their expectations are being met consistently on a daily basis. “Every person wants to feel valued and having expectations regularly met creates a feeling of wanting that to happen for a lifetime,” said Dr. Randy Schroeder, a relationship and marriage counselor.

Happiness or unhappiness is almost always dependent upon the big E: expectations. Most marriage heartaches are due to unexpressed expectations.

There is not a spouse in the world who can read minds, and yet, that unhealthy thinking leads to problems in a marriage.

Dr. Randy Schroeder

Expectations need to be expressed in the form of request or questions and not sentences. The best way to request an expectation is to use the words “will you please,” followed by the want or need.

“Sentences can come across as demands or commands, even when using the word please,” said Dr. Schroeder. (For example, “please do this” or “please give me that.”) Over the course of a marriage, sentence expectations can start to become abrasive.

One simple, yet helpful trick

One great idea for every couple is to write down their top 10 expectations for a healthy, happy relationship. “These expectations need to be specific, attainable, and reasonable,” said Dr. Schroeder. 

Also keep in mind, says Schroeder, that some expectations may need to be met immediately. They may take effort and time. The spouse making the request needs to have patience and understand that it will not happen right away.

With every satisfying relationship, I have found that both spouses overcome the challenge of expecting mind reading and regularly make their expectations known.

Dr. Randy Schroeder

Similarly, if you personally know that some of your expectations are important to you, you are helping yourself by expressing them clearly. In the event that your partner finds himself unable or unwilling to meet them, having a conversation can save both parties a lot of time.

Instead of silently projecting these expectations onto your partner, inevitably feeling disappointed when they are not being met, it is better to communicate. If there is no consensus at the beginning, you may already have your answer and choose to move on to something else.

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