"When you stop expecting people to be perfect, you can like them for who they are."
— Donald Miller
What do you expect out of your partner?
When you have unhealthy expectations, your relationship can be unhealthy too. For instance, I know many people who don't expect anything from their partner, and guess what - they get nothing. No love, no compassion, no support, and no traits that a healthy relationship has.
On the other hand, I know some people who expect too much from their partner, and those people always feel let down in their relationship on some level. That's because their partner can never live up to their expectations!
It is important to find a balance and expect realistic things from your partner and your relationship.
Following are a few habits that you can build, which will help you create healthy expectations for your partner and your relationship.
1. Do Not Blame Your Partner For Your Own Emotions
There is one universal truth in this world: No matter what happens, no matter what other people do, no matter what other people say, and no matter what goes wrong, you are the only person responsible for your thoughts and your emotions. Nobody has the power to make you feel a certain way no matter who they are or what they do. You choose to feel the way you feel by the way you react to the situation.
This is why two people can react completely different to a situation. One person may feel hurt while another person may feel thankful. It all boils down to how you choose to view the situation and react.
Your partner has no power over your emotions, and when you blame your partner for your emotions, you are being selfish. You are making them feel as though everything they say, do, or feel, has to modified so that it doesn’t hurt you, and that is just not fair to them. It does not allow them to be the person that they are meant to be.
For example, if you had a bad day at work, you may expect your partner to be loving and gentle with you when you get home. But if they had a bad day at work too, they may be in no mood to be loving and gentle.
When they don’t act the way you want them to you may say, “You are making me feel even worse than I did at work!” In actuality, though, that is not true, you are simply making yourself feel worse because they didn’t do what you wanted them to do.
When you can step back and see that you are the master of your own emotions, you will be able to really allow your partner to be their true selves without blame and guilt, and you will be much happier in the long run.
So, don’t expect your partner to act a certain way or do something you want them to do. And even if you do, don’t let your emotions and behaviors be guided by what they do. Make it a habit of choosing appropriate responses for whatever they do so that you and them can feel good.
2. Remember That Your Relationship Is Not Like Other People’s Relationships
Just as you are unique, your relationship is unique. If you compare your relationship to other people’s relationships, and expect your relationship to be like their's, you are in for a whirlwind of pain!
There are a few basics that every relationship should have. These are things that you should expect in your relationship.
- Good communication
However, how you achieve those things may be completely different than the next person. For example, you may be a different religion than the next guy, so you believe that your relationship (and respect etc.) should be conducted in a completely different manner.
Nido Qubein is a motivational speaker, and he says that, “Winners compare their achievements with their goals whereas losers compare their achievements with those of other people.” This can really apply to your relationship!
Your relationship’s goals should be to thrive, find happiness, grow closer, or whatever other positive goals you set out for it. Your achievements in your relationship should be compared to your goals, not to other people.
People who are unsure of themselves and don’t beat to their own drum compare themselves with other people. They are not living their own happiness because they are too busy trying to figure out what the definition of happiness is by watching other people and trying to imitate them.
So, get in the habit of improving your relationship one step at a time, and when you reach a goal, celebrate it! Stop looking at other relationships for your success.
3. Be Realistic About Your Partner And Relationship
You cannot expect your partner to be someone they are not, and you cannot expect your relationship to look or feel a certain way to you.
For instance, if your mother was amazing and did all of the chores, worked a full-time job, and took care of the kids, you can’t expect your woman to be like that.
Or, if your father worked his ass off and made millions of dollars and bought his wife tons of presents, you can’t expect your man to be like that.
You can’t label your partner according to the fantasy that you have in your head. If you do, you will be disappointed.
Your relationship is going to go where it goes, and if you develop good habits in the relationship then it will head towards a happy and healthy place, but it may not head in the direction you expect.
So remove expectations from your partner and relationship. There will be a lot less stress on your part, and your partner will feel the relief of it as well.
Examples Of Unhealthy Expectations You May Want To Remove
It is my partner’s job to make me happy: Your partner cannot make you happy, only you can make you happy. Everything in life has no meaning until you give it meaning, and if you label things as negative, wrong, or whatever – then you will not be happy no matter what anyone else says.
Everything should be about me on some level: If you expect that everything your partner does or says should incorporate you on some level, then you are putting an unhealthy expectation on your partner. You will feel bad when they do not make it about you, and they will feel pressure to always make everything about you.
We should be interacting in this type of way: If it works for you, then it works for you. Just because your mother doesn't think you should have a relationship that is long-distance and that seeing each other every day is better, doesn't mean that a long-distance relationship won't work for you and make you happy. Let go of expectations of how it should be, and pay attention to whether or not it feels right for you. If it doesn't, do something about it, but if it does, then allow it to be what it is.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
Question: How to stop having expectations?
Answer: You will always have some expectations, such as being treated right and loved and other things.
Take something like Lifebook Online and get clear on what you want and will not accept.
Kari (author) on August 13, 2014:
@nell: I've been that someone before! It really sucked to be in that state of mind, both for my boyfriend and myself. ;) It feels much better to be responsible for my own happiness.
Nell Rose from England on August 13, 2014:
There is one bit that totally caught my eye, and that was when you said your partner should not be the one take make you happy, that is so true! I know someone who expects her husband to do everything, and make sure she is happy, if he does something wrong or doesn't make the effort at that time she goes nuts! I have told her a dozen times, but no it makes no difference, great points! nell
Kari (author) on August 13, 2014:
@Janelle and Pamela: Thanks!
Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on August 13, 2014:
I fully agree that happinesss is an inside job. You cannot change anyone else, but you can change yourself, your attitude and your responses to another person. This is what I have learned over the years, and your hub expresses some excellent tips for healthy relationships. Voted way up!
Ruth Aquila on August 07, 2014:
Excellent Hub. Expectations that remain unspoken and not discussed bring conflict in relationships. Thanks for showing us these unhealthy expectations, how to get rid of it and what healthy expectations look like. Voted Up!!!
Kari (author) on August 06, 2014:
Thanks for always commenting MsDora. I appreciate it.
Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on August 06, 2014:
You give good counsel on realistic expectations--to thrive, find happiness, grow closer etc. I like your Donald Miller quote too. Thank you.