Relationship Expectations

Having expectations is normal part of relationships.

You expect parents to be supportive, spouses to be faithful and friends to be loyal. But unspoken expectations cause the most trouble because expecting others will know what you need doesn't often work.

Making assumptions leads to hurt feelings and misunderstandings. You might not even realize you're doing it. 

There is a 12 step saying that "Expectations are premeditated resentments."

Holding onto resentments creates emotional separation. This blog will clarify different types of expectations and what to do instead.

Types of Expectations

  • Clear expectations openly discussed to improve communication and closeness.
  • Unspoken expectations leads to resentment and misunderstandings.

For example, expecting a partner to know what you want or how you feel - without telling them, leads to frustration. Communication breaks down because when you make assumptions, you react to what you think is happening verse clarifying it.

Clear expectations are spoken whereas, unrealistic expectations are hidden and often connected to old beliefs.

Relationship expectations

Relationship expectations

In your family, were expectations clear and reasonable or did they just expect you to know? If expectations weren't clear, they can create relationship problems. Here are some examples. 

Unrealistic expectations

  • Expecting one person to fulfill all (or most) of your needs.
  • Expecting people to change who they are for you.
  • Expecting someone to give what you give them.
  • Expecting someone to know what you want without telling them.

Having unrealistic expectations is also a symptom of codependency. Expecting people to meet most of your needs is a set up for resentment. Sure you can ask for what you want, but no one is obligated to fulfill them. Codependency happens when you focus more on what other people are doing rather than on yourself.

Handling expectations

The first step in handling expectations is being aware of what they are. Then decide if they're realistic or not.

Getting feedback from trusted friends helps. Figuring out if expectations are too high takes practice. Here is a rule of thumb.  Are you expecting people to be different than who they are? If so, your expectations are probably unrealistic.

  • Be honest about your expectations.
  • People don't change unless they choose to. 
  • Talk openly about expectations to avoid problems later.
  • Don't make your partner responsible for all your needs.
  • Communicate your needs directly. 
  • Don't assume that if someone doesn't change, they don't love you. 
  • Check out all assumptions.

How do you handle expectations in your relationships? Please leave a comment or share this with a friend.  

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