We all have things we expect out of relationships.
And while some of them are good to have, there are many that, unfortunately, actively hurt and cause damage in the long run.
To help you identify and avoid these mistaken expectations, in this article I will show you 18 unrealistic expectations you should never have in a relationship (and five that you should).
Unrealistic expectations in a relationship:
1) You expect your partner to be always cheerful
It’s normal to want to have a happy and cheerful partner.
However it is unreasonable to expect your partner to always be happy and cheerful all the damn time. Even if you did your best to put a smile on their face, there are just some things that are out of your control.
Pay extra close attention to this if you’re a man. Many men, for some reason, connect their partner’s feelings to their own egos. If their girlfriend seems unhappy, they automatically think THEY’RE not good enough for them. And if they’re happy, they automatically think they’re doing a good job.
Chances are, there is no link! Your partner’s moods and level of happiness isn’t about you at all.
So don’t be upset or take it personally when you see your partner sad, angry, or just straight up bored. They might just be going through something, and… well, it’s an opportunity for you to show them your support.
2) You expect your partner to always want sex
The very idea that your partner should be ready for you whenever you’re in the mood for sex is, frankly, absurd.
And yet some people have the idea that just because they’re in a relationship, then they should always have sex any time they want.
Refusal is met with jealousy and anger because… well, why would they refuse? Is it because they’re seeing someone else? Is it because they don’t see you as attractive anymore?
Of course, not. That’s silly. It’s probably because they’re actually tired and that they don’t put too much importance on sex.
And… no, being together doesn’t entitle you to your partner’s body.
Sure, a healthy relationship should have a good compromise when it comes to sex, but expecting your partner to be always ready to bang will—and taking it personally if they don’t—is a recipe for a bad break-up.
3) You expect to get gifts on every occasion
Anniversaries, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. These are just some of the events we expect to celebrate with our loved ones.
So it might seem like it’s only fair to expect gifts on these days…except, no. That kind of thinking will only make your relationship sink.
Regardless of whether or not there’s a special occasion going on, gifts are not something you should expect to get. Ever. Otherwise, things will get sour so fast it’ll turn both of you into pickles.
A healthier approach is to see these occasions as opportunities to give something to your partner, rather than take. That way, you’ll never be disappointed.
4) You expect your relationship to be your source of happiness
“You complete me” is something we often hear being said in romantic movies. “You are my life” is another.
Romantic as these words are, however, they give toxic preconceptions for what a romantic relationship should be like.
And as Rudá Iandê— my favorite modern-day shaman— explains in his free video, these ideas can actually keep you from finding a good and nurturing love life.
Oh yes, “romance”, he said, can sometimes be a bad thing for relationships.
After watching Ruda’s masterclass, I learned that we should not get into a relationship because we want to be happy. Instead, we should be already happy before we get into a relationship, or otherwise you’ll just end up sucking the joy out of your partner’s life!
It isn’t easy breaking free of these things we’ve been taught our whole life. Thankfully, Rudá can help you by offering actual, practical solutions and broadening your perspective about love and intimacy.
5) You expect your partner to pay for almost everything
If you’re a girl, you’ve probably gotten acquainted with the expectation that guys should pay for your dates…that it’s a test for their love for you, and their capacity to become breadwinners.
But this is no longer the case these days, thank god! In our modern and egalitarian world, girls are expected to share the burden.
And in fact, if you’re richer than your partner, it would be expected that you would offer to pay the bigger share. Expecting your partner to pay up just because they’re a guy is downright cruel if you could see that they’re struggling with money.
6) You expect your partner to reply at lightning speed
The world we live in is more connected than ever, and almost everyone has their phone with them within arm’s reach.
So it’s not surprising that a lot of people—and this includes the older generation—have come to expect others to respond to their messages immediately, and this expectation is even higher towards one’s partners.
But life happens and sometimes they might see your message and forget because they were too preoccupied to respond… and, well, sometimes people simply need time to think of a proper response.
When this happens, chill. This doesn’t mean your partner is not respecting you or they love you less than before (when you’re still messaging 20 texts per minute). It’s just because they have other important things to attend to.
And you should be glad about it, don’t you think? That your partner has a life aside from the one they share with you?
7) You expect your partner to recall every important thing about you
Memory is a funny thing. Some people have a hard time remembering what day of the week it is, while others can remember the specific clothes they wore to a random party 30 years ago.
It might sting to realize that your partner has forgotten something important that you had told them, or that they didn’t remember… say, when and where you had your first date.
But don’t hold it against them!
They might simply have a harder time remembering certain things and need something (or someone) to remind them every now and then.
It’s not a reflection of how much they love you (or not love you) at all. So cut them some slack.
8) You expect your partner to “get” you
This is one of the worst expectations you can have towards your partner.
Humans are not mind-readers, and even couples who have been together for over fifty years will still need to communicate clearly and not assume that their partner will just “get them.”
Don’t think that what chemistry you have with your partner means that you don’t need to speak to be understood—communicate!
If you feel frustrated, talk about it.
If there’s something that you want, talk about it.
If you don’t want to talk, tell them to give you time.
The point is, it’s impossible for us to “get” each other—not even if we are psychologists, not even if we’ve been with our partners for a hundred years. We don’t even “get” ourselves sometimes, so why expect others to get us all the time?
9) You expect your partner to choose you over friends and family
There is no doubt that you’re important to your partner, but don’t make them choose!
Don’t expect to be THE most important person in their life even if they said you are.
Don’t expect them to take your side of every argument you have with their friends and family.
Don’t expect them to agree to you saying negative things about them.
Don’t expect to cancel night outs and family dinners just so they’ll rush to you.
They love you AND they love their friends and family. Unless they’re clearly causing harm to you and your relationship, then they shouldn’t have to choose between you or them.
10) You expect your partner to agree with you always
We all want validation, but expecting people to always agree with you is one sure way to push people away from you.
That applies to your partner too, even if they might seem perfectly willing to go along with you at first.
Disagreements are a natural part of life, and if it’s not something either of you would consider a non-negotiable, then you’ll just have to agree to disagree.
Besides, agreeing all the time is impossible. It’s also a surefire way to stagnate.
Instead, expect your partner to question what you have to say and to have discussions with you in the most honest and respectful way.
11) You expect assurance and validation every day
Words like “I love you” and “I want to live with you forever” are nice to hear, but you should not expect to get them daily!
Your partner is not a compliment dispenser, and… if you beg or demand assurance every day, then don’t blame your partner if they think that you’re insecure and get turned off.
Besides, you won’t want to get assurance every time anyways, because when this makes them lose their impact and feel too easy.
12) You expect understanding all the time
You’re not perfect, and you know that.
You want to be understood and, well… if you’re going to be in a relationship with someone, they should make an effort to understand you and your quirks.
But just because they have put in effort to understand you doesn’t mean that you’ll always get that understanding you need. As mentioned, understanding (“getting”) each other is not easy and automatic.
And of course, there are just times when it’s just too much to ask your partner for understanding and you, instead, should take the initiative and talk to a therapist.
13) You expect your partner to be always there for you
I know having your partner be always there with you when you need them sounds romantic and, well… nice. Who wouldn’t want that kind of security and comfort?
But think about it from their perspective for a second—imagine if they wanted YOU to always be there for them, regardless of whether you’re stressed, happy, hungry or dressed.
You’d think “Oh, but that’s impossible. I have a life, too!”
The idea might be cute at first, but if you want your relationship to thrive you’ll just have to understand that sometimes they simply won’t be available… even if they really, really want to.
14) You expect your partner to never change
If there’s something you can expect will never change, it’s the fact that there will always be change.
This is especially the case when it comes to long term relationships.
People change, and that should be a good thing.
Don’t make them feel guilty for starting a new career, a new hobby, a new perspective, and even a new personality.
So don’t expect your partner to remain static, and most certainly don’t try to pressure them into being so.
15) You expect your partner to not have friends from the opposite sex
It’s not unheard of to hear of people demanding that their partners stop talking to their friends of the opposite sex.
And, with all due respect, if you ever thought that your partner should have no friends of the opposite sex, then you should NOT be in a relationship at all. You see, love requires trust, and if you don’t know how to trust your partner, you have to work on your trust and self-esteem issues.
When you get into a relationship with someone, you should build your relationship off a foundation of mutual respect and trust.
Expecting that they would cut friends off just to accommodate you is the foundation of a toxic, abusive relationship.
16) You expect your partner to be 100% open
Everyone has secrets, and it doesn’t matter if you’re someone’s partner, best friend, or parent—you’re not entitled to those secrets!
Sure, you will have to share certain important secrets with one another if you want your relationship to thrive.
But that does not mean that all secrets need to be shared. And what is shared must be given up willingly and not forced.
Well…unless it directly impacts your relationship, like if you suspect they’re cheating because they have a second phone, or gambling again because you see suspicious bank transactions in your joint account.
Otherwise, don’t hate them for not telling you every single detail about their life. It’s a privilege, not a right.
17) You expect your partner to never hurt you
We’re humans, and we’re imperfect.
It doesn’t matter how much we may love someone, or how careful we might be—we will hurt them, one way or another.
That may seem grim, but it’s just a consequence of our imperfect existence. So rather than focus on whether they’ve hurt you or not, focus instead on what they do after.
Someone who loves you will apologize and try to avoid hurting you again in the future, while someone who does not will keep hurting you.
18) You expect to never get bored with your relationship
It might seem unfathomable that you would ever get bored with your relationship, especially if you’re still in the honeymoon phase.
But fair warning—you WILL get bored eventually, and that’s okay.
The early phases of your relationship will be fueled by a lot of attraction and passion, but passion will eventually burn out and the true test will be whether your relationship can survive the “boring” times after.
19) You expect your partner to love you unconditionally
People say that love should be unconditional, and, well, who doesn’t like having someone who is willing to love you flaws and all?
This is one of those cases where there’s a nugget of truth behind the saying, but people misunderstand what it means entirely.
See, true love might be all about caring for someone no matter what, but that doesn’t mean tolerating and enabling them no matter what.
So, sure. Your partner might love you… but if you did something REALLY bad—like, say, cheat on them or spend all of your savings—don’t expect them to keep on sticking around.
They might still love you a lot (and that’s why it hurts) but some things are just too much.
This is not meant to scare you. This is just to remind you that if you love someone, you shouldn’t expect them to love you no matter what. Instead, do your best to be a better person for them. That’s a healthier approach to relationships.
5 realistic expectations to have in a relationship
1) They should respect you
It’s perhaps a no-brainer that if you’re going to be in a relationship with someone, then you should respect one another.
And when I mean respect, I mean respect—everything from their time, to their values, customs, beliefs, tastes, passions, choices…basically, just who they are as a person.
While this is difficult to do, the basic rule is to at least respect them as a person who’s different from you. Don’t be rude, don’t put them down, don’t hurt them on purpose.
Way too many people fail to uphold this expectation, sadly.
And the reason why it got so bad for some is because they took for granted the fact that respect is something you should expect from a relationship.
2) Both of you should put in the work
We’ve established that you can’t expect relationships to remain passionate and interesting forever—that passion will eventually settle down.
And that’s fine, because here’s the secret—love isn’t some magical thing that exists because the universe ordained it. Rather, love is something you and your partner build together over time.
Love is something that is grown, and is something that surpasses romance or passion. It’s meant to be that quiet glue that holds the two of you together.
Relationships take work and so it’s perfectly fair to expect that your partner will put in their share of the work.
3) They should be willing to fix relationship problems with you
Your relationship will meet a couple of hurdles here and there and you can’t be expected to do ALL the fixing yourself.
Your relationship is a team game and both you and your partner need to put in effort to make it work, especially if you’re in a crisis.
Expect your partner to cooperate by talking to each other honestly and coming up with solutions.
And if sometimes talking is not enough, then you must both be willing to reach out to a third party to help you whether it be a trusted advisor or a friend.
If you’re experiencing this now, I strongly recommend Relationship Hero. It’s a site where you can get in touch with a trained relationship coach.
They’re excellent, easy to reach, and they’ve helped thousands of couples love better. I’ve recommended them to my friends who’ve gone through some relationship hurdles—as most relationships do—and they all thank me right after.
4) They should have your back MOST of the time
As mentioned, it’s impossible for them to be there for you 100% of the time, but it’s a realistic expectation to want them to support you at least 70% of the time.
You want to be with someone who will drop everything when you’re in trouble. You won’t abuse their love for you, of course, but just knowing that they’re willing to be there for you—that they won’t abandon you when you’re struggling—is more than enough.
Would you be with someone who’s ready to drop you once you become an inconvenience? Nah, you don’t want that.
5) You should be friends
Way too many people have this idea that there’s a clear dividing line between a romantic and a friendly relationship.
But the dividing line between friendship and romance is actually quite thin, and while not all of your friends will make good romantic partners, all of your romantic partners should be good friends.
You can be good friends by getting to know each other better, being there for each other, starting new hobbies together. In other words, by doing things not just for romance.
By being friends, you will still be able to stick together even if things start to get less romantic and sex starts to become less frequent.
You can easily reignite passion when you both still like each other as people…and you can do that by being good friends.
There are a lot of harmful expectations surrounding relationships, and I would not be surprised if you thought that some of these are just “normal” things to have in a relationship.
These things are very romantically portrayed in the media as “good” things, and sometimes our friends and family might even teach them to us assuming because it was the norm back in their day.
It won’t be easy to get rid of these expectations, but it’s something worth doing if you want your relationship to thrive and do good by your partner.