Are Your Relationship Expectations Unrealistic?
Real relationships aren’t rom coms and that’s ok.
Not many things exist in this world which is as complicated as relationships- apart from maybe navigating supermarkets in the midst of a pandemic (I’m looking at you COVID-19). Relationships come in myriad forms, and likewise both start and end for myriad reasons. For example, my relationship with my mother started when she birthed me and my relationship with my ex began after I drank 12 vodka sodas.
But despite their complexities, sometimes they end simply because one party failed to meet the expectations of the other. And whether you’ve ended a relationship for this very reason, or been on the receiving end of this kind of dumping it’s important to explore where these expectations came from in the first place.
While standards are key in any relationship, expectations can actually be detrimental. That’s because these expectations are so often derived from unreliable sources. The rom coms which we binge on Netflix are far from accurate depictions of what real relationships look like, yet are often the basis of our idea of a good relationship. Relationships are multi-faceted and even the best ones are messy, however, these movies reduce them to nothing more than 2D idealized portrayals which are impossible to replicate in the real world.
It’s not just the movies either, social media is equally complicit in curating these unrealistic expectations. Anyone with access to a smartphone is now able to share their own rose-tinted highlights of their relationship. But, it’s easy for us to forget that these are just that- highlights. Very few people are going to Instagram a picture of the last time their boyfriend left their pants on the floor, yet we begin to compare our relationships to these perfect tableaux of other peoples’ and suddenly see problems in our own.
Expecting your partner to treat you with respect and equality is nothing short of essential, but expecting them to never ever make a mistake, never leave the toilet seat up or forget to get your favorite coffee from the shop? That’s just unrealistic. And in the worst case can lead to doubting or even ending a perfectly good relationship.
We have always been influenced by the media we consume, but in the age of peak media, there is even more of the stuff around to influence us and our expectations. So, learning to check our expectations that are derived from media is more important than ever.
It’s not always easy to identify the difference between expectations and standards, things which could destroy and nurture a relationship respectively. Emotional Kinesiologist, Belinda Ginter, describes expectations as ‘projecting your version of your ideals on someone else and holding them to that level’ whilst ‘standards are a series of beliefs, value systems and traits you expect to see in an individual you choose to date’.
When in doubt, relationship experts such as Dr. Randy Schroeder recommend expressing how you feel with your partner. It may sound basic, but communication is crucial and discussing your expectations with your partner may just help to save a good relationship from being ended just because it doesn’t play out exactly like The Notebook.