If you want to be a better partner, let go of these 9 harmful expectations

Have you ever considered that some of the expectations you have of your partner and your relationship could be unrealistic and even harmful?

The truth is: we all enter relationships with certain expectations. It’s good to know what you want but you might be expecting too much of your partner.

It can be hard to spot this when you’re very close to the situation. I’ve seen some harmful expectations like this many times in the relationships of my friends and family. 

Based on what I’ve observed, I’m sharing 9 harmful expectations that you need to let go of if you want to be a better partner. 

1) You expect them to read your mind

Ever expect your partner to know what’s going on with you, without telling them?

I know it feels like it should be obvious or they should know why you’re upset but the truth is you’re expecting them to be a mindreader. And they’ll never be able to meet that expectation. 

Communication is key.

Try expressing how you feel and what you need. This gives your partner a chance to support you in the way that you need them to. It makes you a better partner and allows for a better relationship overall.

2) You expect them to spend all their time with you 

I get it: you love your partner and want to spend every waking moment with them. And you can’t wrap your head around the idea that they don’t want to be with you 24/7, right? 

Just because your partner wants to do things without you doesn’t mean they’re not madly in love with you. It’s just that everyone needs some ‘me’ time. And having separate friends and hobbies is good for your relationship.

Relationship expert Esther Perel talks about creating a little bit of distance to allow you to truly see your partner as one of the secrets to maintaining a happy, passionate relationship. 

Here’s an idea: instead of expecting them to spend all their time with you, take a step back and recognize that you’re two separate people choosing to do life together, not every single thing together. Creating some space allows you to become closer. 

3) You expect them to always agree with you

Do you take offense if your partner doesn’t 100% agree with you on everything? 

It’s normal to want harmony in your relationship but there’s a fine line between that and 100% agreement. This expectation is harmful and simply not realistic.

My sister’s ex-boyfriend was like this. He’d get really upset if she disagreed with him on anything at all. It caused a lot of fights and put an unnecessary strain on their relationship.

It’s about embracing your individuality and making room for a difference of opinion and some healthy debate. 

Letting go of this harmful expectation will benefit your relationship in ways you never thought possible.  

4) You expect zero conflict in your relationship

It’s also not realistic to expect a relationship with zero conflict. Despite what we’ve been told by fairytales and ‘rom-coms’, this idealized version of romance doesn’t really exist. 

The thing is: even the very best relationships experience arguments from time to time. And that’s okay, some conflict is healthy, and working as a team to resolve it can bring you closer than ever.

Instead of holding onto this unrealistic expectation, work with your other half to come up with a strategy for resolving conflict that works for both of you. That way, it won’t be a big deal when it happens. 

Figuring out conflict is one thing but this next one’s a biggie.

5) You expect them to abandon their values 

pic1504 If you want to be a better partner, let go of these 9 harmful expectations

Expecting someone to turn their back on their values is a major red flag in a relationship. But you might not even realize you’re doing it. 

We can get so caught up in what we want, we don’t even think about what we’re asking of our special someone. Expecting someone to abandon their values could be the most damaging expectation of all. 

Our core values make us who we are. Expecting someone to change who they are deep down is not cool and unfair to your partner. If you’re in this situation, think about why you even want them to do that. If your values don’t align, maybe you’re not as compatible as you thought. 

6) You expect them to be your everything 

Did you know that originally marriage had nothing to do with love? It was an economic agreement and alliance between two families, all about money and producing children. 

Today marriage and relationships have evolved to the point where people often expect their partner to be their lover, best friend, confidant, career coach, and more. 

That’s a lot to expect from one person, right? 

It’s presented as the ultimate love story but really, The Notebook is a perfect example of both parties expecting their partner to be their everything. The couple had no real outside support and relied on each other for everything. 

Expecting your partner to be your everything is unrealistic and harmful to your relationship. And being too emotionally dependent like this is unhealthy for you. Letting go of this expectation and building a support network will make you a better partner and give you both some room to breathe in the relationship.  

7) You expect them to stay the same (No personal growth) 

A while back, my friend Lauren broke up with her boyfriend of 8 years. The trouble started when he began to say things like “You’ve changed, you’re different from the person I first met”. 

Does this resonate with you? Have you ever wanted your lover to stay the same? 

Look I get it: you love them and want them to stay as they are. But is that healthy? Personal growth is important and positive for most people. 

As their partner, you should be their biggest supporter, encouraging them to be better instead of expecting them to stay the same. If you want to be a great partner, let go of this expectation.

In healthy relationships couples, grow, change, and evolve together over the years and become closer in the process.   

8) You expect them to always be the one to compromise 

We’ve all heard the old adage, ‘relationships are about give and take’, right?

But it doesn’t make it any easier to compromise on something when you feel like you’re right and your partner is wrong.

Here’s the kicker: your partner also feels like they’re right and you’re wrong.

And if you constantly expect them to compromise because ‘that’s just the way you are’ it can start to seem like your wants, needs, and feelings are more important than theirs, which is damaging. 

“Compromise is an invitation to collaborate with your partner while solving problems,” says Claudia de Llano, LMFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist as outlined by VeryWellMind.

Let go of your expectation that it’s always them who has to sacrifice and embrace your own ability to compromise. It’ll make you a much better partner and give you a happier relationship

9) You expect grand gestures of love all the time 

Do you expect grand gestures and dramatic displays of affection every other day?

The movies have a lot to answer for when it comes to love, they’ve created unrealistic expectations of love that just don’t translate in real life. A grand gesture here and there is fine but if you expect it weekly, it’s harmful to you, your partner, and your relationship. 

You’ve probably heard of the 5 love languages which help us to understand how we like our partners to show their love. 

Forget about expecting grand gestures and figure out which love language resonates most with you, then let your partner know. 

This way you’re a much better partner and you’re setting your relationship up for happiness and success.

Final thoughts

There’s nothing wrong with having high expectations for your relationship. But it’s important to check yourself to ensure you’re considering both yourself and your partner when it comes to the standards you set.

Different people are willing to accept different things so the best thing you can do is talk to your partner, share your expectations, hear theirs, and decide what’s best for you both.

If you do find that you’ve unknowingly developed some harmful expectations, it’s not too late to simply let them go. You’ll be a better partner and you’ll enjoy a better relationship as a result.

Picture of Cat Harper

Cat Harper

Cat is an experienced Sales and Enablement professional turned writer whose passions span from psychology and relationships to continuous self-improvement, lifelong learning and pushing back on societal expectations to forge a life she loves. An avid traveler and adventure sports enthusiast, in her downtime you'll find Cat snowboarding, motorcycling or working on her latest self-development project.

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