Psychologist Warns Couples Of The 16 Expectations That Sabotage Even The Best Relationships

Don't let common relationship myths destroy your own.

Last updated on May 07, 2024

couple ignoring each other's needs StockPhotoDirectors / Shutterstock

What we choose to believe shapes our very reality and paints the portrait of our world. In relationships, it's often difficult to see beyond our personal beliefs, but to have a lasting partnership, we must ensure that our beliefs are similar to those held by our partner.

We may experience problematic relationships if we're not grounded in beliefs that encourage commitment. So, settling on positive, constructive beliefs requires us to first unlearn the assumptions that limit our potential to engage in loving relationships.


This means relinquishing impractical ideas and viewing our lives through a realistic lens. Because when we have unrealistic expectations in our relationship, that's when things become toxic.

Here are 16 toxic expectations that sabotage relationships

1. 'Our chemistry and romance will keep us together.'

Monotony wedges its way into all relationships in time. That "spark" comes and goes. The excitement wears off. Even your views about the world are split in opposite directions.

This may sound like a negative scenario, but it's a reality for all long-term relationships. To make sure the "honeymoon phase" doesn't result in a breakup, you should share common values beyond chemistry in order to keep you together.


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2. 'They will provide for me.'

Your partner might provide for you up to a certain point, but remember that once you're an adult, no one has an obligation to take care of you. Only you can take care of yourself, without relying on others to do the job for you.

Think about your partner being your only source of income and something happens to them or their career one day. Remove the idea that a romantic partner is a sound financial plan; the only person who will continuously provide for you is... you.


3. 'They're just a couple of bad habits.'

You must be able to distinguish between innocent offenses and serious red flags for the sake of your well-being. Forgetting to put the toilet seat down is a bad habit. Lying pathologically, on the other hand, is a major red flag.

Learn to read these flags — some obvious, some subtle — as soon as they reveal themselves to avoid entering an unhealthy relationship. Because a bad habit can easily become something much more toxic.

4. 'I can change them.'

Often, we hope we can make people behave differently, or that they will somehow be better with us than they were in past relationships. This sort of thinking leads us into a pit of disappointment.

When we believe that we can change individuals just by being in a relationship with them, it creates a toxic expectation. Eventually, we must realize that people will continue being who they are until they decide to transform themselves.


To change, a person must first feel a need within to improve their current behavior. And that has nothing to do with you.

couple on bed woman looking longingly at man Antoni Shkraba / Pexels

5. 'Having a child will make our relationship better.'

In some cases, this may be true. However, the added responsibility may make things worse and forever tie you to a person who's not right for you.


The reality is, not even having 10 children can make an unwilling partner commit! Having a child is a blessing, of course, but having a child with the right partner is an even bigger blessing.

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6. 'The first move has to come from them.'

If you wait for a person to show interest who has no intentions of doing so, you might be waiting forever. Sometimes you have to put your pride aside and make the first move.

The bottom line is that it has to come from both of you. Compromise and communication are two keystones to great relationships.

7. 'I don't need to change — I'm fine just the way I am.'

You may be fine, but you're human, which makes you imperfect. Just as your partner has personality traits you don't like, you also have traits they dislike.


Strive to evolve, progress, and become a kinder, more mindful person each day — not only for your partner, but for yourself.

8. 'If I complain, I'll get what I want.'

Speaking up when you're being treated unfairly can certainly adjust the dynamic of your relationship in your favor. But constantly complaining might also create sizable damage between you and your significant other.

You can stand your ground and defend yourself, but you should always do so without whining about every little thing.

9. 'The past won't interfere with the present.'

Unless you've closed all the doors to your past (and locked them and thrown away the key), the past will very much become your present and future. To avoid this, you need to let things go in order for them to come to an end.


If something is still present in your heart and mind, even if it happened a decade ago, it will continue to be present in your reality. And that's a recipe for disaster in your relationship.

If you want to prevent certain things from happening again, detach from the past and focus on here and now.

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10. 'That would never happen to me.'

We all like to think that bad things will never happen to us. Yet, they happen to many of us. Betrayal, breakups, disputes, and difficulties — these can happen to anyone.

While you shouldn't live life worrying that something awful is going to happen, especially in your relationship, be prepared for anything. In relationships, the safest course is to expect the unexpected.

11. 'Who cares about a dumb sports game?'

It's often a misconception that men don't need pampering or don't require as much attention, care, and gentleness. It's also a misconception that women are indifferent to men's wants and needs, and are too emotional to have hobbies of their own. But both of these misconceptions couldn't be further from the truth!

Just because a man is into a sports game, or a woman is into a specific hobby of her own, that doesn't mean they don't require attention and nurturing.


It's best to respect your partner's hobbies, whether they're watching football games, painting, or expanding their collections. Encourage your partner to do whatever brings them joy, just as you should do all that fills your spirit, too.

couple watching television cottonbro studio / Pexels

12. 'I know this is a compromised situation, but at least they give me money for the kids.'

This should never be the price you put on love. You'll grow weary of compromising your values and happiness in time, but by then it might be too late to leave.


Having financial stability pales in comparison to having emotional stability.

13. 'If I make them jealous, they will want me.'

Purposely doing things to make someone jealous will only end up doing one thing: hurting the relationship. Jealousy and envy should never be a part of your relationship, nor should it ever be weaponized.

You should make your partner aware of the fact that you'll walk away if they don't treat you well. However, there are better ways of making your partner realize this than invoking envy.

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14. 'I can replace them.'

You can replace your car if it gets damaged or your purse if it gets stolen, but you can't replace a human being.


You may think that a new partner will be better than your old one, but this will prove false. A new partner won't be better, just different.

This person will still have some qualities you like and others you dislike. That's just part of being a person, though. No one is better or worse than anyone else — we just are.

@themccabelife The grass isn't always greener on the other side. We spend so much time and mental energy focusing on what we are not happy about in our relationship that we tend to miss all of the beauty that is there. I am not trying to diminish those who are in a truly broken or abusive relationship. That is a different story. But for many of us, a perspective change could make all the difference. #marriageadvice #marriage #marriagecounseling #relationshiphelp #relationships #couplescounseling #husband #wife ♬ original sound - Terry and Katie

15. 'Something is better than nothing.'

Depending on the circumstances, nothing is sometimes much better than something — especially if that "something" is a person who causes you pain and confusion.


Some people have gotten used to hearing from their significant other once a week or seeing them once a month, and they're okay with it. But having only something, a fraction of a real partner, is like having only one piece of the whole: you will constantly feel like something is missing.

16. 'They have to be tall, dark, and attractive... oh, and rich.'

The only place you'll find Prince Charming or the Perfect Man is in a children's book. The person who will make you happiest will be riddled with problems, some of which are temporary and some of which are permanent.

But you need to let go of the notion that you'll meet a perfect, flawless person, as this will lead to never-ending frustration.

Consider these toxic expectations are ones that frequently harm a relationship. If you hold any of these assumptions, reevaluate your beliefs and shift your perception about what makes a truly good relationship.


Here's to happy, satisfying relationships.

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Dr. Carmen Harra is an intuitive psychologist, relationship expert, bestselling author, radio host, and TV personality. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, The New York Post, Elle Magazine, New York Daily News, Vogue, US Weekly, New York Magazine, The Hollywood Reporter, and many more.