When it comes to relationships it is normal to have expectations and intentions regardless of the type of relationship it is – romantic, a business or within the work place. We all have expectations built into our psyche from an early age whether from our family environment and upbringing, our worldview or things we have experienced. Unfortunately, sometimes those expectations and intentions may not be healthy, and we find ourselves disappointed time and again because they are not met.
What are healthy expectations for a relationship? Honesty, trust, mutual respect, pro-active approach to conflict and equality are healthy expectations for any relationship.
What are unhealthy expectations?
● Expecting the other person in the relationship to know what you are feeling and understand those feelings without communicating them.
● Healthy relationships don’t experience conflict.
● We must spend most of our time together.
● Good relationships do not need work.
● I can change the other person to suit my way of living and my way of doing things
These are just some examples of unhealthy expectations. Expectations turn sour when they come loaded with judgements – should, shouldn’t s, right, wrong, good and bad. They are assumptions about how reality “should be”.
One of the greatest relationship destroyers is that of unrealistic expectations. Expecting something out of the relationship that the other is either ignorant of, unwilling to provide, or simply unable to provide, can be emotionally damaging for both people involved and unhealthy for the relationship. Mounting frustration and anger can result from harbouring unrealistic expectations of a person and the relationship.
Having realistic expectations in our relationships involves accepting that no one is perfect, accepting ourselves and others for who we are and what we can contribute to the relationship. Instead of looking to others to meet our needs, we must take responsibility for our own life and make necessary changes that are in our best interest.
How can we have healthy expectations for our relationships?
It starts with changing your perspective and knowing exactly what it is that you want out of a relationship. If you’re unsure of what you want, then you need to figure it out first. When you know what your expectations are and that they are realistic and healthy, and therefore achievable you are better able to communicate them to someone else.
When setting realistic expectations in a relationship, it takes two. Good relationships require communication so that you are aware of what the other person expects and vice versa. This
means not expecting another person to immediately know your needs, desires and feelings. Both people need to listen, give and take feedback, as well as compromise. It is important to establish boundaries and recognise when your desires cannot be met by the other person. For example, if you want your partner to spend more time with you, but she expresses her need for more independence, you will need to discuss how you can compromise.
As a new year approaches, set some time aside to reflect on what your expectations are for the relationships you have in your life and decide whether or not they are healthy and realistic. You can also do this for relationships that have become strained or are no longer as close and functional as they once were.
Next become intentional about how you can meet expectations in your relationships or to yourself. Keep them simple and achievable otherwise you may become discouraged. Even the smallest steps towards your intentions mean you are still moving forward and closer to the outcomes you desire. There are four steps you can take to do this.
Make a Plan – Get clear about something you want and write it down.
Be Accountable – Share your intention with someone in a way that will supportively hold you accountable to taking action.
Show Commitment – Do something today to demonstrate your commitment to your intention.
Take Action – Acknowledge that you did what you said you would and then, take the next step.
Even the most estranged relationships can benefit from renewed, considered expectations and realistic intentions to create more positive and lasting outcomes. Although achieving them may not be simple or occur quickly, any steps towards a healthy resolution that creates a more workable relationship is worth the effort.