People expect that if they treat others well, others will treat them the same way. And, in case someone fails to meet these expectations of positive reciprocity, most of us will probably feel betrayed and offended.
That is one common and simple example of expectations that are just not realistic. Yes, it’s true that it’s fair to get what you give but life doesn’t work this way.
How and when unrealistic expextations are created?
It turns out that dependency could be one reason and the illusions formed during childhood another. And perfectionism too. As well as many more things which are strictly individual.
But no matter what the reasons are – there is one general truth when it comes to our expectations for others. If they become too high and demanding we could find ourselves pulling others away. This is the first step to creating distance with our romantic partners, friends or colleagues.
Of course that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have standarts for what we want!
Sure it’s necessary to be aware of what we want and expect out of a relationship.
And it’s also our responsibility to let the partner know we are expecting particular things from the relationship.
But, there’s a thin line between knowing your goals and being pretentious.
If you constantly feel disappointed from your partners, this might be a red flag. After all, we shouldn’t forget that successful relationships are based on a healthy dose of compromise and not on unrealistic expectations.
“When we have unrealistic expectations about our relationship, we tend to feel disappointed or deflated when our relationships don’t meet our expectation,” clinical psychologist Dr. Helen Odessky tells Bustle. “This may lead us to abandon good relationships or to make negative comparisons to an idealized relationship and miss out on what works in our own relationship.”
Then how can we avoid being too demanding?
First and foremost, by making a good assessment of the partner. This way we will get an idea about what to expect from them. But that could be difficult and is not always possible. What we could certainly do is not to attribute unexisting qualities to the person. Or neglect the things that we don’t like about them. And ultimately to think carefully about whether or not we can accept them the way they are.
According to the couples counselor, Anne Marie Foscolo it’s necessary to look critically at yourself and your significant other. She advises partners to be realistic.
Not to live in illusions about what’s possible to come out from the relationship.
And to make sure they don’t go too far in their plans and expectations.
Another thing to do is to control and set healthy limits on expectations.
Dr. Danielle Forshee who is a doctor of psychology and licensed clinical social worker, also confirms this for Bustle.
“Managing expectations in a new relationship is important because it relieves pressure on yourself and the person you’re dating, allowing the opportunity to freely get to know someone and be in the present moment.”
Of course, unrealistic expections do not always lead to a break-up. At least not directly.
However, they often become a reason for constant arguments and cause a lot of tension in the relationship.
The Belgian psychotherapist, speaker, and author of the book
Made In Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence which has been translated into 24 languages, Esther Perel offers an efficient solution to that problem.
In her podcast, Where Should We Begin she presents unscripted, anonymous sessions. She’s having them with problematic couples who have applied for participating in the podcast. Perel is trying to assist by helping the partners to accept each other. And teaches them how to love each other with all their flaws and imperfections.
In an interview for Elle, she is talking about the importance of transforming disagreements into something constructive. She thinks that disagreements should strengthen the bond between the partners and not the other way round. She calls them ruptures and explains that they can be either totally damaging or extremely constructive. And that ruptures could make partners do something totally different.
Here’s her opinion:
“It’s time to engage with a different level of attention and intention with each other. Crises build resilience. It’s the risk-taking of change that helps you evolve and feel safe again. Often in their dissolution relationships go through cycles of harmony and disharmony, illusions and disillusions and ultimately reconnections. That’s a nice circular way to think about it rather than a before and after. A kind of natural round-and-round,” she tells.
Certainly, we all know that arguments are an unavoidable part of a relationship. But it’s what comes out of them that matters. Do we put an end to the argument by finding solutions to the problems? Or we feel emotionally hurt and full of bitter feelings?
This theory is also supported by William James who says:
“Whenever you’re in conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make the difference between damaging your relationship and deepening it. That factor is attitude.”
In the interview, Perel explains how attitude in arguments works. She says it’s natural to argue. Yet partners need a good system of repair and ability to apologize for being wrong. She also thinks that change is possible but it depends on how we achieve it
“There are ways to change course. One is you say, ‘You know what? I am sick and tired of having the same conversation’. If you want to change the other person, you have to change yourself.”
She also thinks that if we change our input consistently, there’s no chance that the other one can go on with the same things for too long. That’s the secret to turn flaws into positive qualities successfully.
Finally, it’s important to say that expectations and high standards are not a bad thing actually. But they should be under strict control. We need to be absolutely sure that imaginary ideas about life and love won’t spoil these aspects of our life in reality.
What we actually need to do is to establish a real connection with the partner. One that is based on our realistic assessment and compatibility with who they are and what they can give us.
If we achieve it there’s high chance that what we have with our partner is a long-term, happy relationship.
Here is a piece of advice by Barbara De Angelis
The more connections you and your lover make, not just between your bodies, but between your minds, your hearts, and your souls, the more you will strengthen the fabric of your relationship, and the more real moments you will experience together.