When Expectations in a Relationship Lead Us Astray


Expectations in a relationship can leave us feeling lost, when experience challenges them.

Expectations in a relationship often influence how we connect to our mates, occasionally getting between us and our ability to feel close to the ones we love.

All of us expect things to go right in our lives. This is definitely the way humans are wired. We play out our expectations almost minute by minute. We select the food we want to eat and expect it to taste the way we remember. If it doesn’t then we might get upset or disappointed.

How Early Success Sets Expectations in a Relationship

The honeymoon period can set unrealistic expectations in a relationship.

Well, we play out this system of expecting things in our relationships too. We simply expect to be happy with the person we love. Isn’t that the way the fairy tail ends? Living happily ever after? Only real life is not a fairy tale, and what we expect is not always what we get.

And this can cause problems with the person we love. When we begin our relationships everything is great. In fact it is so great we don’t even realize there are two people in the relationship at the same time. It just feels like this overwhelming sense of “WOW!” The feeling is so wonderful that we just can’t get enough of it.

We also fall into expecting it to always be there. So, what happens to our relationships? We start to evolve and over time notice that great overall feeling begins to show some cracks. In these cracks we are now getting our feelings hurt. At first, we push these hurt feelings aside, but eventually we become very focused on how we are not getting what we want. Then we become unhappy.

Expectations in Relationships Make Us Try to “Reclaim” Something That Just Goes Away with Time

Expectations in a relationship are sometimes challenged as we encounter conflict.

This is so common in relationships. People come into counseling wanting to get back what they think they have lost. I know this feeling. Everyone who has ever loved knows this feeling, but what can we do about it? Plenty.

The first stage of being with our partner is always the best. That’s why some people call it “the honeymoon stage”. It is perfect and everything that goes with perfect. But slowly and reluctantly we enter into a different phase, and this phase is called the “conflict stage.”

Yes, conflict is expected after you have been together for a while. The conflicts arise because you somehow realize that what you want is not always what your partner wants. Then you begin to understand that there are two different people in the relationship, not just you, your comfort, and your needs.

Understanding That Conflict is Inherent Helps Establish Realistic Expectations in a Relationship

Knowing that conflict is an inevitable part of how we interact will help set healthier expectations in a relationship.

You see your partner has his or her own idea of what feels good to them, what they need, and sometimes these two desires are not the same.

This is a very important stage. When conflict appears, that’s an invitation to work with the one you love and find a way to be in the relationship together. You don’t want to be the boss. Bosses are lonely. You don’t want to give in or you may develop resentment towards your mate.

You want to learn how to be in this relationship with the other person, and you want to learn how to make them happy, and in turn they could do the same and make you happy too.

When We Find Ourselves Committed, Our Expectations Change Further and We Feel More Secure

When we get that our partner deserves happiness as much as we do, then we grow into another phase called the “commitment stage.” Here we just resonate with each other and know we are in this together. This is another great feeling of coming home. It is different than the honeymoon stage, it is more secure and always there.

And when we hit the commitment stage, we know we are good. No more expectations of how he or she should be. We accept each other for who we are. And if you can do this, you will live happy the rest of your life.


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'Safe. Happy. Loved. Simple Skills for Your Relationship.' A book by Linda Nusbaum.

Learn how you and your partner can improve communication, reducing conflict in your relationship, by reading Linda’s book Safe. Happy. Loved. Simple Skills for Your Relationship. It might just help the two of you get past some unrealistic expectations you may have had of your relationship, helping you feel happier together and more on the same page. Give it a read.

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