Love, Self

How To Stop Expectations Vs. Reality From Killing Your Relationships

Photo: Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash
How To Stop Expectations Vs. Reality From Killing Your Relationships

Do you find yourself in and out of relationships and feeling very disappointed? Did the person you were dating not measure up to the relationship you envisioned?

We all have expectations in a relationship, but what we don’t expect is that the very things we expect to receive will be the things that kill our relationships.

How can you stop your unrealistic expectations vs. reality from ruining your chances of maintaining healthy relationships?

RELATED: 19 Ridiculous Expectations That Keep Your Relationship Unhealthy (And Damage Your Self-Esteem)

Having expectations is normal, and they don't have to prevent you from finding the kind of love you want and deserve.

Here are four tips on managing your expectations so they don't destroy your chances of finding happiness in the reality of a healthy relationship.

1. Acknowledge what it is you expect in a relationship

There is nothing wrong with having expectations for our relationships, but we are not always aware of what they are.

Take an honest look at your expectations and perspectives in regard to romantic relationships.

Are you expecting to have what I call a 1950s-style relationship in which you each stick to strict gender roles and their associated tasks or behaviors? If that is your expectation but not the reality of your relationship, both of you will experience significant displeasure and unhappiness.

We need to be honest with ourselves about our own expectations before getting upset with our partners for not fulfilling them.

2. Be aware of any limiting beliefs informing those expectations

Once you are aware that some level of expectation exists, it's time to dig deeper in order to figure out where those expectations come from.

In addition to having expectations, it's important to think about your relationship goals and desires, while also acknowledging any limiting beliefs you hold in the area of love and belonging.

A limiting belief is a thought, belief, or attitude which constrains and hinders us in some way. They hinder us by preventing us from thinking, saying, or behaving in ways that we would like to or normally would.

These limiting beliefs may refer to rights, duties, roles, abilities, or permissions we give ourselves in life. Essentially, they have some impact on our identity and how we view ourselves, as well as on our relationships and how we interact with one another.

What are your limiting beliefs about love, desire and relationships?

For example, if you say you want a meaningful and committed relationship but secretly have a hard time believing those types of relationships exist, you’re going to struggle with reconciling your expectations of relationships with the reality of your limiting beliefs about them. Or perhaps your limiting belief is that you don’t believe you deserve love and belonging; thereby resulting in a pattern of conflictual relationships.

RELATED: 11 Limiting Beliefs That Are Seriously Holding You Back In Life

3. Take responsibility for meeting and managing your own expectations

Any time there is clearly a discrepancy between your expectations vs. reality, ultimately, if you want love and belonging, you are in charge of getting it in your relationships.

Have you taken the time to think about what it is you want in a relationship and the qualities that are important to you in a partner? If not, then, of course, you will be disappointed and let down when the person you're dating doesn't measure up. You don’t even know what you want, so how can they?

We each have to question our own role in our disappointments and what we are or are not doing to fulfill our own expectations.

Can you really be disappointed if you aren't doing anything to move a relationship along to a place where you will feel fulfilled? Are you choosing partners who align with your ideal image of the person you imagine yourself being with?

It wouldn't be fair or realistic to say you shouldn't have expectations. What's important is having and identifying healthy expectations.

It is a healthy expectation to want to be compatible with your partner. However, it is not healthy to want a partner to identify with your trauma as a symbol of compatibility.

It is healthy to want and expect loyalty and faithfulness within your relationship. However, it is not healthy to want a partner who only communicates with and associates with you and with no one else. That is obsession and control, neither of which are healthy qualities in a relationship.

4. Communicate your expectations to your partner

Once you've identified those desires and qualities you are looking for in a relationship, you must be mindful and intentional in communicating those expectations in healthy ways.

Don’t tell your partner you don’t care about certain things when you really do, especially when you want them to care as deeply about something as you do.

We all have to be active participants in both our relationships and our own happiness.

To do that, we have to be willing to communicate with our partners without being afraid or timid.

Everyone is entitled to feel love and belonging. You have every right to feel and be loved in the ways that you desire and expect. However, no one is a mind reader.

Ultimately the way to have a lasting, healthy relationship is to acknowledge that we all have relationship expectations, be aware of what they are, take responsibility for having and managing healthy expectations, and communicate them effectively to your partner.

RELATED: Expectation Is The Root Of All Heartache

Janika Veasley, LMFT, is a Marriage and Family Therapist committed to helping couples, families, and individuals succeed in living a holistic and healthy life. For more information, visit her website.