10 Expectations In A Relationship And How To Manage Them

Discuss with your partner how misunderstandings in expectations might lead to conflicts.

Reviewed by Rodolfo Parlati, Professional Life Coach Rodolfo Parlati Rodolfo ParlatiProfessional Life Coach facebook_iconlinkedin_iconyoutube_iconinsta_icon
Written by , Integrated MA, Certified Relationship Coach Sneha Tete Integrated MA, Certified Relationship Coach linkedin_icon Experience: 4 years
Edited by , BSc Shatabdi Bhattacharya BSc Experience: 2.5 years
Fact-checked by , MA Sangita Goel MA linkedin_icon

It is only human to have certain expectations in a relationship. However, expectations that get out of hand can be very toxic. Constant bickering and feeling unfulfilled can lead to resentment and make your relationship go downhill. So, how do you set expectations that are not too much for your partner?

Setting healthy expectations can keep you and your partner happy. It is unfair to burden your partner with too much. However, it is also good to have a few expectations that do not harm your relationship. Some basic things that you can (and must) expect from your partner include respect, understanding, emotional support, and patience. These are some fundamental needs that you should be fulfilling for each other, and it is not wrong to expect them in a committed relationship. Read on to learn how to set expectations in a relationship and lead a peaceful life together. Scroll down!

protip_icon Did You Know?
It is often seen that people in relationships where they are treated poorly have lower expectations and those in relationships where they are treated well have higher expectations. Hence, as psychologists say, people get what they expect.

Why Do Expectations In A Relationship Cause Problems?

To understand that, we first need to answer another question – why do couples fight in the first place? The answer: expectations. What we assume a relationship should be like shapes our contribution to the relationship. Expectations, when in a relationship, are subjective. They are biased and differ from one person to another. Some people expect their partners to cook. In turn, they may be expected to provide. But, both partners assume that the other person is aware of this automatically, without even having a conversation about it. This can lead to stress, heartbreak, and tension in the relationship.

The issue with expectations is that they’re just like opinions – everyone has one! The problem is, they usually don’t match up to the other person’s behavior. This is where bickering begins. It’s important to talk to your partner about how mismatched expectations can lead to conflicts. However, don’t think you don’t have a right to expect something from your partner! Expect kindness and decency – you deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, and so does your partner!  Expecting something from another person doesn’t mean having a right to get a thing or pretending a behavior from the other one. To avoid fights, frustrations and disappointments, it is crucial to learn to listen to each other and be empathetic to clearly understand not only the other person’s deep needs and desires but also yours. This is why knowing what to expect is important. When you both are on the same page about your partnership, you will learn how to manage expectations better in a relationship.

Now, let’s answer the biggest question that’s on your mind.

What To Expect In A Relationship?

Learning what to expect and how to manage expectations in a relationship is essential to building a healthy relationship. Here are ten healthy expectations you can have in a relationship.

1. Appreciation Over Expectations

Man managing expectations in a relationship by appreciating his partner
Image: Shutterstock

To effectively manage expectations in a relationship, you must show your appreciation for your significant other every day. Don’t focus on the negative – make it a point to value your partner’s positive qualities. This will improve your relationship like nothing else. Yes, your partner may not have folded the clothes the exact way you wanted them to, but at least they tried to do their fair share of work by folding the laundry and putting it away! If you pay close attention, you will realize there’s always something to be thankful for and appreciative about. Remember what it was that attracted you to them in the first place – it definitely wasn’t their folding skills! Was it their kindness, warmth, and love for you? Appreciate that!

When we apply the art of appreciation in our relationships, it can end unhealthy expectations and conflicts.

2. Compassion

Compassion is one of the most important things you should be expecting in a relationship. To successfully navigate the highs and lows of a relationship, you both need to practice compassion. Prioritize your love over your expectations. When you get in a disagreement, be kind to each other and don’t intentionally say or do something to hurt them. It is essential to manage expectations in a relationship. However, they are there to facilitate warmth and happiness. At the end of the day, it’s your relationship that’s most important, not your need to be right.

3. Respect

Respect is essential in any relationship, romantic or not. When you respect your partner, it means you value their needs and perspective. This is the basis of not only effective communication but also a happy relationship. If you love your partner, never disrespect them! Instead, try to find a constructive, empathetic way to resolve a conflict. Try to look for solutions without creating unnecessary stress and tension.

Image: Shutterstock

4. Time With Your Partner

Giving time to your significant other is absolutely a must in a relationship. Don’t brush your partner to the sidelines of your life, and don’t let them do it to you either. You might need to compromise with your schedule, but it’s important to make the time and effort to maintain and improve your relationship. When you both follow rituals and traditions that enhance your sense of connection, you show each other that your relationship is your real priority.

5. Consideration

A healthy relationship relies on consideration – you both need to consider each other’s feelings, interests, and relationship expectations. You must value your relationship over your “rules.” It’s easy to view these rules as the basis of your relationship, but they were actually created to make you and your partner happy. If they don’t serve that purpose and you both are unhappy, there is no point in sticking to them. If you both value your rules over each other, the relationship suffers.

6. Not Questioning The Nature Of Your Relationship

If you want to manage expectations in a relationship, one of the worst things you can do is question your significant other’s intent. When you question your partner and the very nature of your relationship, it destroys trust, which can take a toll on even the best of partnerships. Just because you are having problems currently doesn’t mean the relationship is doomed.

7. Not Threatening The Relationship

Image: Shutterstock Not Being Compared

One of the basic expectations in a relationship is that there will be mutual dialogue and give and take. Threatening your partner with ultimatums doesn’t help – it only shuts down communication between the two of you. If you’re really at a point that you are threatening to end the partnership, it may be time to take a break from each other and rethink the conversation.

8. Not Having The Same Argument Over And Over Again

If you both are always arguing, change your method of approaching each other. If you don’t do so, you risk creating a never-ending cycle where neither party is understood, leaving both of you feeling hurt and defeated. Be the bigger person and bow out of a few arguments. Take a break from each other, regroup, and think about what you are really fighting about. When you make this practice a habit, you will set a high standard of expectations in your relationship.

9. Effort

Learning how to deal with expectations is not a one-time thing. It’s a continuous conversation where you need to touch base to see whether your needs are being met. Don’t let your relationship stagnate, assuming you both are doing fine because you haven’t fought that day. If you show a strong commitment to continually improving, you will be able to build an extraordinary relationship.

10. Not Being Compared

Image: Shutterstock

Many people fall into the trap of comparing their partner to other people and their relationships to other people’s relationships. The truth is, everyone has their own share of relationship issues. As tempting as it is to expect a “textbook” relationship, this approach doesn’t work in real life. It doesn’t deal with your or your significant other’s needs. It also doesn’t value what makes your relationship special and unique.

Now, let’s talk about how to manage expectations in a relationship.

How To Manage Expectations In A Relationship

Don’t worry, there is a solution for dealing with mismatched expectations! Conflicts arise from differences in a couple’s expectations rather than the things they appreciate in each other.

Think about all the things you and your significant other have fought over. How many of these arguments are actually worth fighting for? Have any of them resulted in a productive resolution? Most likely, no. Many people often say, “We argue about everything – even the smallest things.” It is absolutely true. Consider your expectations in your relationship. Are your conflicts really worth the emotional turmoil you both go through when fighting with each other? Probably not. Chances are, there’s something much more productive that you could be doing with your time. Focus on working on enhancing the strength and longevity of your relationship, and you will be good.

And when it comes to managing expectations, the only way to go about it is through open and honest communication. As long as you both are open and willing to talk about your expectations from each other, you are on the right path to building a healthy relationship. Having honesty with your partner about which expectations you can deliver on immediately and which ones you will need time to work on, and encourage your partner to do the same. Here are some ways you can discuss your expectations with your partner.

How To Talk About Expectations In A Relationship

  • You can start by creating a comfortable, safe and private space for the conversation.
  • It is important that both of you are honest but also sensitive in addressing your expectations.
  • It is advised to clearly express your needs and desires, using ‘I’ statements to avoid blame or accusations.
  • Allow and encourage your partner to share their expectations as well. When they do, listen attentively without interrupting, and ask questions for clarification, if needed. This dialogue should be ongoing, as expectations may evolve over time.
  • Ensure that you have regular and respectful communication as it is key to building trust and ensuring that both of you are on the same page.

That being said, listed below are some expectations that are unreasonable.

Image: Shutterstock

Signs Your Expectations Are Unreasonable

These signs can help you realize patterns of unrealistic and unhealthy expectations:

  • You have very specific rules and visions and find it impossible to accept other possible outcomes or opinions.
  • When your partner doesn’t fall in line with your plans, you feel resentful and irritated. It’s quite normal to feel these things sometimes, but if they play a major or recurring role in your life, you may need to rethink your expectations.
  • You feel upset and stressed when things do not go as planned. You get irritated when your routine deviates even slightly.
  • You constantly criticize yourself, your partner, and others.
  • You fixate on small issues and obsess about getting everything right.
  • When things go wrong, however little, you feel stressed, let down, panicked, or frustrated.

Maintaining clear expectations in a relationship is key to sustaining mutual love and trust between two people.

protip_icon Quick Tip
While it’s not healthy to fight all the time, engaging in productive discussions promotes growth and offers different perspectives on various aspects of life in general.

Infographic: Examples Of Unrealistic Expectations In A Relationship

You must never compromise on the 10 relationship expectations mentioned above. However, there are certain other expectations that are unreasonable. These may even destroy a relationship if not checked. We have listed some of them in the infographic below. Take a look.

examples of unrealistic expectations in a relationship (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Letting your partner know of your comfort level and maintaining boundaries is important in taking the relationship further in a stable manner. Also, mutual respect for each other’s likes, dislikes, opinions, space, and boundaries is key to cementing your love and trust further and making your relationship stronger. Open, healthy, and timely communication helps maintain a clear idea about each other’s expectations.

Frequently Asked Questions

What expectations should a woman have in a relationship?

Loyalty, devotion, affection, trust, and physical and emotional safety are some of the most basic expectations a woman should have in a relationship.

What is a relationship without expectations?

A relationship without expectations may be considered a no-strings-attached relationship, where partners decide to treat it as a friends-with-benefits kind of a relationship. However, these are different from committed relationships and generally cannot be sustained for long as expectations naturally get woven in if one or both of the partners develop feelings and desire more out of the connection.

Should I lower my expectations in a relationship?

You should not hold your partner or your relationship to unrealistic expectations. However, you also should not lower reasonable expectations from your partner and the relationship just to stay in it.

What are men’s expectations in a relationship?

Physical intimacy, honesty, clear communication, friendship, respect, and acceptance are some of the common expectations men have in relationships.

How do you love someone with no expectations?

It may not be completely healthy to love someone with absolutely no expectations if you are in a relationship with them. However, if it’s one-sided affection, you can wish them well and be there for them unconditionally as an expression of your affection.

Key Takeaways

  • Setting healthy expectations can keep you and your partner happy.
  • Healthy expectations include some fundamental needs that you should be fulfilling for each other like respect, understanding, emotional support, and patience.
  • Unhealthy or over-expectations in a relationship can put a burden on your partner and may cause resentment and stress in the relationship.
expectations in a relationship

Image: Stable Diffusion/StyleCraze Design Team

Delve into the complexities of relationship expectations with this informative video. Gain valuable insights and practical advice to navigate the intricacies of expectations in relationships. Watch now!
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