Relationships are rewarding if you put the time and effort into them but they aren’t easy. Even the strongest relationships have their issues and take work. We don’t fall in love with each other because of compatibility. We fall in love with an idea; what we assume the other will bring to the table in a relationship. We erect lists of rules- do’s and don’ts-in our heads for our partners and ourselves, expectations that we feel must be met. Sometimes these expectations cause problems; rifts in the relationship when we don’t feel they are being met. Often it’s because our expectations for one another are unrealistic and we don’t see it until after the problems begin to arise. We begin loose sight of our self-worth and the needs of our partners.
I’ve written down some of these common misconceptions that I’ve seen or experienced within different relationships of my own, over the years. Though there are hundreds more and some a lot less common, it’s up to you to discover your own unique and unrealistic expectations for yourself.
100% sunny 100% of the time.
This could either be associated with the relationship and your partner or you.
We often have this expectation for ourselves in relationship and sometimes just in day-to-day life that no matter what we are not going let the other person see us when we are hurt or angry, regardless of what the reason. We see showing pain to others as weakness; we hide our feelings from each other convincing ourselves, that we are actually saving our partners from ourselves.
This is not the case. The mindset of- I’ll never let them know that they’ve hurt me is actually a much more damaging mindset then- I’m going to tell them why and how they hurt me. Your partner doesn’t expect you to be okay all the time. Keeping your partner informed on what’s driving you emotionally can often lead to making up before entering into a lovers spat. Leaving them to wonder if they upset you or not can often lead to distancing themselves from you over time. Remember no one is going to be okay all of the time and it’s unfair to expect it from ourselves as well as from others.
I will always keep my partner happy.
You are not a mind reader and sometimes there are outside factors that will keep your partner from feeling happy. It is not your job to keep them from feeling anger or pain because you can’t; your job, as a friend, family member or lover is to be there for them when you can be. Don’t expect to be the solution every time. Remember it’s not your job to make everybody happy all the time, thinking you have too will leave you feeling worthless and disappointed when you fail. If I have days where things don’t go my way, I may not be happy regardless of any outside influences so why do I assume it will different for my partner?
I shouldn’t have to talk about my feelings- my partner should know.
Your partner is NOT a mind reader. Why should they know what you’re feeling even if you don’t? Expecting it only leads to frustration and it distracts both of you from the bigger picture; communication. If you don’t know you, how is your partner supposed too?
Communication is key. It is up to you to let your partner know what it is that’s bothering you. It is not on them to know if they haven’t been told. Just because somebody loves you doesn’t mean they are always going to be on the ball. This is one of the biggest problems I’ve seen couples face. We assume- if they love me they should know what’s going to upset me. This easily breeds resentment and distrust in the relationship, when our partner messes up. We start to doubt our partner and in doing so they start to doubt us. They begin to feel as though they need to be on constant guard around their partner, almost as if they are walking on eggshells. Somewhere along the way relationship ceases to feel safe.
We need to feel safe with our partner and in our relationship, in order to grow closer and keep the partnership building. When we don’t feel safe in our relationship often we start hiding things and spouting little white lies in order to protect ourselves from the other person. Remember, it’s harder to build and keep trust in a relationship than it is to plant the seed of doubt.
I’ll be the only person they need.
We all seek different things out of our relationship, whether its physical, emotional, mental or romantic, each person we meet and interact with throughout our lives gives us a different perspective on life. We all have people for certain areas of expertise. For instance I have specific people I go to for advice, a selection of friends for when I want to let loose and have fun and other friends for when I need a good kick in the pants. It isn’t fair to assume that one person can cover all bases. What I’m getting at is, if we have different people for different things in order to make our days a little happier or clearer, than how is fair to assume that we are capable of being the be-all-end-all to our sweetie? Nice idea. Completely unrealistic fantasy.
It shouldn’t take work we should just be good.
Why is this so hard? Why don’t they know what my triggers are? We were so good in the beginning now all we do is fight….
Did you forget? Rome wasn’t built in a day. I said earlier that none of us are perfect, so why do we expect our relationships to be? It’s these assumptions that hurt us the most. We begin to feel betrayed by our partner in some way but we can’t pin point why. We fight instead of trying to see what the root cause of the problem is because trying to understand is harder than pointing the finger. A lot of relationships fail because of the mindset that we shouldn’t have to work for it, if its meant to be it will be. If you don’t apply for the job do you deserve the position? If you’re lazy and incompetent at your work, do you deserve to keep your job? The answer is no. Why should your relationship be any different? How is your partner supposed to feel important and worth it to you if you aren’t willing to put the effort into fixing what may be wrong in it?
I will love them unconditionally.
This is a lie most of us have told ourselves in the past when we first realised we loved someone besides our kids. Loving someone doesn’t mean you love everything about them all the time it just means that you love them in spite of their faults. It’s natural to get upset with one another every now and then. Often believing we need to love someone unconditionally leads self-loathing when we get upset with our partner over something they’ve done or are doing. It’s unfair to put so much added pressure onto ourselves when it’s an unrealistic notion.
If I can’t love him unconditionally and I can’t accept something he is doing to hurt me, what’s wrong with me? What am I doing wrong? It’s my fault for getting upset in the first place. I shouldn’t get hurt or upset by something they may be doing or have done. I’m an awful person because I let their actions get the better of me.
The idea of loving someone unconditionally adds a huge amount of unnecessary pressure to the relationship, which could have otherwise been avoided. Movies and books have taught us that true love is loving somebody no matter what and if we don’t than were we ever truly in love in the first place?
Loving someone isn’t just about accepting their faults, it’s about compromise; working with one another to fix what’s bothering you or them and working to build a stronger relationship based on honesty. Not coming to terms with the fact that there are going to be some things you don’t like about each other is only going to cause more problems down the road; when you are faced to deal with some of those less attractive qualities that you or they have.
I’m not saying don’t have any expectations; expectations are important for improvement in the future. They allow you to figure out what you do and don’t want for yourself and your partner. The best way to avoid unnecessary fights with each other is simple; sit down with your partner and discuss what both of you are hoping to get out of the relationship and what both of your needs are, short term and long term. You might find they have they same concerns as you. When you start to feel upset about something look at the root cause of the problem and you may find that it had nothing to do with your partner and everything to do with an unrealistic idea or want that you may have. Understanding your partner’s needs and expectations isn’t only helpful for your partner but also for you and it may be what saves you from a messy breakup down the road.
What are your relationship expectations? You can post your comments below and thanks for reading my column!
Born and raised in Toronto, E. V. Hutcheon studied journalism at St Lawrence College in Cornwall Ontario.
She currently lives in Toronto with her family, three dogs and a rabbit, near the Humber River.