Some of us see our relationships in very realistic terms. Some are pessimistic, and some are optimistic about how things might go.
And then there are some people who are very unrealistic about what they want and need.
Does that sound like you?
If your natural reaction is to respond, “Of course not!” you still might want to read on.
Because I’m about to list eight unrealistic expectations about love that can sabotage your relationship, and they just might be things you didn’t realize were putting you at risk!
I’m not sure I’m a love expert, so because I love his incredible insights, I’m going to help you with quotes from the immortal writer Tom Robbins, who seems to know more about love than pretty much anyone else.
1) We’ll never fight!
Two hearts beating in just one mind could never fall into disharmony. How could they?
Well, if that’s the expectation you have about love, you’re setting yourself up for major disappointment.
Because <<NEWS FLASH!>> all real relationships will include disagreements and, yes, fights.
Notice I said “real” relationships here.
If you want to have a superficial relationship with someone who never gets into any deep connection, commitment, or real intimacy, then go ahead.
But for real relationships, fighting happens.
Look, you’re two (or more?) people bringing your different genes, upbringings, and experiences to the table, and sometimes things just won’t meld together perfectly.
You might disagree about tiny things or things that really matter deeply to you. And you could even fight when your boundaries get pushed or when emotions get really strong.
But this is normal and natural, and so is being able to come back together and makeup. Many couples see fights as opportunities to learn about the important differences between them.
But if you expect never to have a fight in your relationship, you’re only going to be disappointed when it inevitably happens.
2) We’ll share a pure, blissful romance.
OK, fine, I’ll admit it – I’m a diehard romantic.
But I’ll tell you something. It hasn’t done me many favors.
If I grew up reading fantasy novels and listening to emo, I think it only served to cause me problems in my adult love life.
Romance is, after all, almost by definition a form of fantasy we use to idealize relationships and actions rather than reality.
And a little romance is fine, don’t get me wrong.
Thinking of your partner and doing something special for them is romantic and certainly appreciated in any relationship.
But trust me when I say that I’ve never found anyone who wanted me to actually catch a grenade, jump in front of a train, or die for them, and it now seems somewhat silly that I used to think in such drastic terms.
You know the kind of romance my partner really wants these days?
To be left to sleep in while I clean up and take out the trash.
Now that’s romance!
3) We’ll be together all the time.
This is what you think when you first fall in love because it’s how you both feel. As Tom Robbins says:
“Love is dope, not chicken soup.”
Those first few weeks and months, maybe even years, can be so electrifying, so infatuating that you can’t think of ever wanting to be apart, not even for a second.
But as time goes by, this initial obsession fades, and that’s natural.
You also start to grow out of that love-induced blindness and see glimpses of each other’s faults.
Again, this is normal and even necessary for a real relationship. And if you can grow past this stage and still be happy together, some would argue that’s the real test of love.
But if you expect things to stay like they are in the initial honeymoon period forever, you’re going to sabotage your own happiness.
4) You’ll share all of my thoughts and opinions.
Why wouldn’t you both think exactly the same way? After all, you’re in love, and you’re a perfect match, soul mates, twin flames burning in unison in this crazy world.
Unfortunately, that’s not how love works.
You are different people coming into a relationship and bringing in all the experiences and knowledge you have with you.
And sometimes it can feel like you come from two completely different planets:
“My heart is a Latin American food stall, and your love is a health inspector from Zurich.”
But rather than seeing this as something to get upset about, why not see it as a superpower? You can use your thoughts and feelings but also have access to your partner’s, giving you the best of both worlds.
Expecting to be the same and think and feel the same at all times simply isn’t realistic, and you’d be much better off without that expectation in your love life.
5) We’ll be able to read each other’s minds.
First off, do you really want anyone to be able to read your mind and know everything you’re thinking?
Yeah, I thought not!
So you must realize that you probably don’t want or need to know everything your partner is thinking all the time either.
So why is it that so many people expect this amazing psychic ability in their relationships?
It’s the source of so many fights that my friends tell me about.
You know: “He doesn’t know why I’m upset with him!” or “She doesn’t understand me!”
Why not? I don’t know; tell your partner how you feel and what you’re thinking.
That way, they could know your mind without having to have any special gifts, and it just might make your relationship a whole lot richer.
6) It’s me and you against the world!
When I was young and full of angst, all I really wanted was a partner in crime.
It would be me and them against the world, living underground, rebelling against the system, and sharing everything just the two of us.
But I think that’s because I had low self-confidence, and I wanted so badly to be needed by someone else. I felt like we should only need each other and basically have no need for or interest in any other people in our lives.
I thought that was what love was, and it became a huge barrier between me and a happy relationship.
For a long while, everyone I got involved with found me needy and smothering because I expected so much of them all the time. And from my side, I found them all too non-committal and emotionally reserved.
I didn’t really know how to be myself in a relationship, and I especially didn’t know how to ease off and let my partner be their own person.
Thinking like this really sabotaged my early relationships, so I’m so glad I became aware of this unrealistic expectation.
7) We won’t have to work for it.
This might be less of an expectation and more of a hope.
I mean, nobody wants friction in their relationship, and nobody wants to find themselves growing apart or losing interest, either.
But it can happen.
And so many people fall into the trap of thinking that if they can only find the perfect person, then everything else will fall into place, and they’ll live happily ever after.
Hmmm. Tom’s comment?
“We waste time looking for the perfect lover instead of creating the perfect love.”
Relationships need work. People change over time. Needs change, desires change, interest change.
And if you’re going to make your love work, you have to put in some effort to change, adapt, and accept.
If you’re willing to put in the work, you’re probably dooming your relationship.
8) Our love will be forever.
This is certainly what everyone wants.
But reality tells us a different story. These days, about half of all marriages still end in divorce, so you can bet most other relationships aren’t faring any better.
One of Tom Robbins’ characters asks:
“But do we know how to make love stay? I can’t even think about it. The best I can do is play it day by day.”
And maybe that’s really all anyone can do. But this taking it day by day can still include putting work into nurturing your relationship and doing the best that you can at loving your partner.
Rather than sitting back and just expecting things to last forever, you could be actively working in your relationship to give this a much better chance of being true.
Throw away your unrealistic expectations
“Love easily confuses us because it is always in flux between illusion and substance, between memory and wish, between contentment and need.”
That might be true, but if you can look objectively at some of your expectations and see which are unrealistic, you have a much better chance of avoiding confusion and finding real love in its stead.