Do you ever wonder why your relationships are never quite what you imagined they would be? Have you ever dated a guy who seemed great at first, but turned out to be less than perfect? Or maybe you had an amazing connection with a beautiful woman and then found out the two of you really didn’t have anything in common. The reality behind many of these situations has nothing to do with the person you are dating, and everything to do with your relationship expectations.

What are relationship expectations?

Relationship expectations are simply what you expect from the people in your personal relationships. Basically, it is the reverse of relationship obligations. If your partner has decided it is their obligation to pay for dinner when the two of you go out, than that is their obligation towards you. In turn, you now have an expectation for that obligation to be fulfilled every time you go out with your partner. So, what happens when that obligation is suddenly not fulfilled?

From your co-worker to your best friend to your spouse, you have expectations of everyone in your life. You expect your boss or your human resources representative to hand you a paycheck on pay day. You expect your parents to remember to call on your birthday. You expect the new person you’re dating to call, or text, within a certain time frame after a date.

If you set your expectations too high however, and the person does not meet your standards, you are the one who winds up feeling sad or angry.

How do I manage my relationship expectations?

Managing your expectations is the key to keeping your relationship (and yourself) healthy and happy. Here are three easy ways to manage your expectations of those around you in order to live a better life.

1. Be open to those who don’t fit your “ideal”

We do not advise lowering your standards; you should only date those who truly inspire you to become the best person possible. If faith is the cornerstone of your life, you should be with someone who shares your love for Jesus.

With that being said, it’s also important to be open to people who may not look quite as you expected them to look. For example, think about the amazing people around you that you may have dismissed as a potential date because they are too young, too tall or too introverted. If there’s just one small reason that’s holding you back, see if you can get past that reason and find a real connection with this otherwise great person!

2. Leave your relationship room to grow

The best relationships happen organically. Think about your best friend from childhood. We’re guessing you didn’t build up a huge expectation for this relationship when you met in gym class in the third grade. Instead, you just enjoyed it for what it really was, a new friendship with someone who you liked being around. Only later on did it blossom into something greater.

Remember this the next time you meet someone new that gets you excited for the future, and try not to fantasize about your new relationship before it has room to grow on its own.

3. Do unto others as you would have them do to you

Do unto others as you would have them do to you. —Luke 6:31

It’s a phrase we hear often, but don’t always follow. When it comes to relationship expectations, how can you assume your partner will uphold every expectation you set for them if you don’t follow your expectations as well? If you expect your partner to treat you with love, kindness and care at all times, then you must do the same for them. Teach your partner how to treat you by showing them the respect and attention that you would want as well.

Managing your relationship expectations will free you from getting caught up in heartbreak, frustration and distress. When a date doesn’t go quite as expected, think about what you were expecting to happen. Did you expect the guy to call the next day? Did you assume the new woman you are seeing would take the day off from work to be with you?

Relationships won’t always go as we plan, but if we can learn to deal with our expectations, we can learn how to get the most out of each relationship around us!

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