How Unrealistic Expectations in Relationships Disappoint Us


Unrealistic Expectations Disappoint Us

Unrealistic expectations in relationships set us up for hardship. When we identify those expectations and understand them, we can improve our relationship with the one we love.

For many of us, having expectations is a way of life. As people we often think about things we want or experiences we would like to have and then we just expect them to happen. We might not even think about how many times we just expect things to go the way our head tells us they should.

When Our Expectations Set Us Up for Disappointment

Unrealistic Expectations in Relationships Set Us Up for Disappointment

But in a relationship it’s easy to see when those expectations don’t materialize, because every time that happens we are probably ready to tell the person we love how disappointed we are in them. We have come to expect things in our relationships too, and it turns out unrealistic expectations in relationships can be particularly challenging.

I was thinking about this the other day when I was talking with my husband about his schedule. He occasionally visits his mother and then does some work in the city where she lives. While sitting there, I suddenly realized he would be going there on a day I had no work at all, a free day. I thought, “Hey I could go with him and visit my mother in law, something I had wanted to do for a while. I wouldn’t have to be home until 7 for a class. Wow, I think this could work.”

When Things Don’t Play Out As We’d Imagined

I felt really happy and excited about the travel I saw in my head and thinking about the good feelings I was going to experience. So I asked him, “Are you going out to see your Mom on Thursday?” “Yeah, he answered sort of suspiciously. Why?”

I said, “I have nothing planned that day and can go with you. I just have to be back for my 7:00 pm class.” Then I remembered he has late appointments sometimes so I asked him, “What is your latest appointment?” And he said, “Well it could be 5:30 and it could last and it’s a 2 hour drive. It won’t work.”

I remember hearing him say these words. A part of me knows of course it’s not going to work. But another part of me just wanted him to say, “I will cancel that last appointment, it won’t matter. Why don’t you come with me? It will be fun.” That was what I hoped he would say. That was also my expectation, and my desire.

Unrealistic Expectations in Relationships: When Fantasy and Reality Collide

Unrealistic Expectations in Relationships Leave Us Crestfallen and Weary

So when he didn’t say it, I got disappointed. I felt robbed of my afternoon that I had created in my head. I said, “I had a whole day off, I thought it would work out.” And he said, “I didn’t know. I think we need to plan this.”

A part of me felt myself go into my disappointment. But then another part heard him say, “We will go during the summer. I will have more time then.” And in an instant I let it go. I let go of my disappointment. I let go of the picture of what I had wanted and desired. I accepted what was and moved on.

Letting Go of Disappointment Helps You Set and Meet New Expectations with Your Partner

Now I am not always so flexible. Sometimes I hold on to my disappointment a long time and stay in it. I know I do this every time I get my feelings hurt and I can’t come out of it right away. Maybe you do this too. It’s pretty human.

What helps our relationships though is to see what we do to ourselves. We create ideas and images that we want. We try and get them fulfilled and when they are not met we get disappointed. Learn what role expectations play in your life. The more you see them for what they are, the more they will be easier to let go of, and leave you able to move back into life.


Eliminating Unrealistic Expectations in Relationships & Thriving As a Couple

Learn how to dispel unrealistic expectations in relationships by reading 'Safe. Happy. Loved. Simple Skills for Your Relationship.' A book by Linda Nusbaum.

Can’t make it on Monday? Learn about managing expectations and communicating your needs and desires to your mate by reading Linda’s book, Safe. Happy. Loved. Simple Skills for Your Relationship. It might help unify your vision with your partner’s and help you keep each other happy and fulfilled. Give it a read.

Get Couples Counseling

Come in for couples counseling. Couples counseling can help you and your loved one get the most out of your relationship. It'll equip you with coping strategies and tools for communication that can help you argue less and love more.

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