Expectation is the brush that paints the picture of how a relationship will look. However, expectations, like fine art, are both subjective. That is why it is imperative we come into conversations regarding expectations from a place of compassion, openness, and mutual respect. Following this plan will help you to set proper relationship expectations with your partner.
First, in order to know where we stand, we must consider the foundation of our needs and wants. To do this begin by asking yourself, “How would I like to feel in relation to my partner?” Try to come up with 3-5 words that describe the feelings you would like to embrace in your relationship. It is a great exercise to have your partner do separately; as you compare responses let it lend to the deeper conversation about how those needs can be met.
Second, consider what you are not willing to tolerate in a relationship. This includes items like abuse, neglect, and may include more specific ways of being treated poorly or not valued. Consider writing out a list of items you will not allow into your relationship. This is a powerful exercise that may bring up some past dynamics; it is important to carve out your boundaries and expect them to be respected.
No matter what movies have told us - Other’s do not complete us. I am sorry but those words sound romantic but are toxic AF! We are looking for partners that enhance our life not people that fix or mend the places of hurt within us. Be careful labelling something as an expectation that is really our own baggage. This may be reflected in an expectation such as, “My partner should know what I want and need.” Instead consider, “My partner encourages my growth and is open to hearing and responding to my wants and needs.”
The final exercise is understanding, You have the right to ask for what you need…and so do they. Some mutual healthy categories of expectations are listed below. Rank them in level of importance and make sure to discuss what they look like in your current relationship and what you would like to see moving forward.
Intimacy: Emotional and physical connections
Financial: The value of money and its role
Experience: The people, places, and things that enrich life
Communication: Connection through words and actions
Family: Loved ones in our life, creating family unit
Respect: How we interact in honor of someone’s personhood, time, feelings and contributions
As you communicate your expectations keep in mind that healthy couples honor one another’s dreams, even if they’re different. They create a shared meaning system with shared values and ethics, beliefs, rituals, and goals. They agree about fundamental symbols like what a home is, what love is, and they want to build a life together that creates deeper meaning.
Expect nothing less than that, you both deserve it.