7 unrealistic relationship expectations that could be setting you up for failure

From thinking there should always be a ‘spark’ to avoiding conflict, these are some of the unrealistic relationship expectations to look out for.

We all have some idea of what we expect a healthy relationship to look like. Whether it’s spending time together three or four times a week, carving out weekly date nights or constantly communicating or discussing everything from mental health to sex, it’s understandable that we may develop certain ideas of how things should or shouldn’t be.

But these expectations can end up backfiring if they are based on things we hear, see and believe should always be in relationships without taking into account how the nature of our relationships can evolve over time and how, as individuals, we may change in the process.

To acknowledge these expectations and get real about the ones that are unrealistic to maintain at all times, counsellor Lucille Shackleton has highlighted seven unrealistic relationship expectations to watch out for.

“We all have beliefs that guide how we interact in relationships, and some of these beliefs might be helpful and others limiting,” says Shackleton.

“The trick is to pay attention and ask yourself is this belief helping or hindering my relationships? Then you can choose whether you want to keep it or change it.”

In the post, the counsellor says one of the first unrealistic relationship expectations to look out for is believing a partner will change without actually addressing the issue. She also cautions against thinking that “you should always feel the spark” or always feel deeply in love or passionate.

“Believing you should know what each other are thinking or feeling without asking” is also unrealistic along with “thinking you should always agree and never have conflict”, she writes.

Next up, Shackleton says believing you need to be part of every aspect of your partner’s life and that there should be no privacy is an unrealistic expectation, as is the notion that they should “complete you” and that any issue you have is “all them and not you”.

Following the post, which has gained over 26,000 likes, many shared how the different expectations related to their own relationships.

“I recently learned that mixed feelings in a relationship are OK,” commented one user. “Sometimes we feel loved and passionate and sometimes we feel sad or worry about the relationship or sometimes we feel extremely enthusiastic or sometimes we feel exhausted in a relationship. There may be mixed feelings at times and that is perfectly OK.”

Another wrote: “I admit that social media has played a big role in my relationships and believing how things should be and that affecting my view on relationships negatively. This has made me reassess what I need, desire and what is realistic, which definitely gives me the perspective I need.”

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