Expectations in Relationships

Expectations in Relationships Expectations are defined as follows: “your strong hopes or beliefs that something will happen or that you will get something that you want.” (source: www.collinsdictionary.com). In the dating and relationship world, expectation involves your hopes or beliefs in how this other person will be, what they will do for you, and what your life will be like together. From my experience, the problems with relationship expectations come when the expectations are either too low or too high. Too low of expectations will likely result in finding a poor quality partner and having frustration and conflict. Too high of expectations will usually result in never finding a partner or at least never being satisfied with whoever you find. Therefore, healthy expectations of a current or future partner generally exist in the moderate middle ground between extremes.

Healthy Expectations:

Communication: Communication involves how you open up to and speak to one another and talk through issues, which includes listening skills. Healthy basic communication involves being able to mutually open up to the other person and talk out both simple and complex subjects with a blend of minimal civility, respectfulness, and effectiveness. When both sides can be basically open, honest, and expressive with each other without yelling, name calling, or shutdowns, this is good relational communication.

Conflict Resolution: A healthy conflict resolution expectation with a partner means differences of wants or opinions can not only be talked out openly and respectfully, but the final decision and determination on the subject is effective. Ideally, most conflict resolution efforts result in a workable compromise or negotiation that is an arrangement they both can honestly live with and follow through with, without animosity or resentment.

Sex Life and Affection: healthy expectations on this subject will be negotiated and avoid the extremes. A relationship with a total lack of affection and a sex life is unhealthy. But so is the opposite extreme that a lot of both will happen every day for years and decades, as this will not likely occur. So if you combine both of these extremes and divide by two, somewhere between will be a healthy expectation. Of course, because partners vary with their interest and openness to this subject, these arrangements are best discussed early to see if both can be on the same page.

Money and Spending: Most people tend to choose people of the same general socioeconomic status as themselves, usually based on their personal backgrounds. When roughly similar, this can make for a decent expectation and match. If you have greater ambition and want more that what you came from, that is fine. However, like with many of the other things listed in this article, communication and honesty will be the key. Talk out ideas about money and see if your ideas and goals mesh well. Regarding spending, same thing. A decent, healthy expectation with money and spending is to agree to a budget and to bring in more than you spend.

Children: Again, ideas with children commonly follow similar patterns from whatever family background and orientation you both come from. Individuals coming from large families tend to want similar in their own lives, and those with few or no siblings growing up will commonly want to repeat that as well. A healthy expectation with children here will be less of a “right” or “wrong” issue, but more of an agreement of timing and a child number both sides can get on board with. Since we are commanded as people in the scriptures to “multiple and replenish the earth”, I would say a healthy expectation is to at least have a child if possible and feasible. In blended families, there may not be the age, time, energy, or money for additional children but at least there will be children in your lives.

Spirituality: The area of spirituality is an interesting one when it comes to healthy expectations. We know there are many ideals and principles the church promotes: church attendance, fulfilling callings, FHE, scriptural studies, temple attendance, prayer, and so on. From what I have seen, healthy expectations spiritually involves both people being about at the same level of spiritual involvement. Therefore, one side won’t be not expecting too much more than what they give/do themselves. However, when the other person is notably more or less involved with church/spiritual principles, activities, and ideals, the minimum expectations need to be negotiated and agreed to as a clear understanding before marriage. On this subject, like the old saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.

Final Thoughts:

If you don’t feel I have been definitive enough in what makes for healthy expectations on these several relational subjects, you are right. That is because beyond the general ideas I have shared here on the subjects, much of what makes for healthy expectations will be about moderation, communication, and negotiation. And much of that is individual. Too much or too little expectation is usually where the main problems occur. And a lack of communication about expectations is especially dangerous to a couple and is a set up for future problems. As you talk these things out, negotiate, and agree to moderate and collaborate decisions with these issues, you will be doing your best and can have confidence you are showing “healthy expectations”. Remember that you are a team, and that “…neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 11:1).

Dr. G
P.S. If you have any questions, comments, or a future article request for me, feel free to contact me at drgilchrist@yahoo.com.

2023-09-04 Randy Gilchrist Healthy relationships

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About the author

Hello, my name is Dr. Randy Gilchrist (aka "Dr. G"). I am a licensed clinical psychologist, a licensed marriage & family therapist, and a certified hypnotherapist in private practice in Roseville, CA (www.dr-rg.com), practicing since 1997. Also, I am happily married in the temple (Manti) since 1996 and have 4 sons. I am a volunteer writer and contributor to LDS Dimension. I use my training, education, and experience to share insights with LDS Dimension on all things of interest to the LDS dating community. Please read my articles and columns on this site to assist you in your online dating journey. Also, to be considered for an answer in a future Q and A column, please email me your dating/relationship oriented questions to drgilchrist@yahoo.com. Finally, I also offer a powerful, effective worldwide custom hypnosis recording service just for LDS Dimension members for weight loss, pornography, and many other issues of concern to those in the LDS dating community (please learn more now at www.dr-rg.com/lds; email me questions to drgilchrist@yahoo.com).