Getting into a new relationship can be really exciting. But it can also be stressful, if you’re putting too much pressure on the partnership. If you have high expectations in a relationship, it’s important to make sure they’re not too high early on. This can help ensure the strength of your relationship in the long run.
It’s important to let the early stages of a relationship still be an exploratory phase. “New relationships are very fragile and can easily fizzle,” licensed marriage and family therapist Irene Schreiner tells Bustle. “They don’t have the same foundation that long-term relationships have developed. As a result unrealistic expectations can put too much burden on the new relationship causing it to end prematurely.” Having expectations that are too high can put unnecessary pressure on your partner.
It’s possible to manage your expectations if you’re worried they’re getting extreme, however. “Managing expectations in a new relationship is important because it relieves pressure on yourself and the person you’re dating, allowing opportunity to freely get to know someone and be in the present moment,” Dr. Danielle Forshee, doctor of psychology and licensed clinical social worker, tells Bustle. “When we don’t manage expectations, not only does this set ourselves up for potential to misinterpret or respond negatively to our new partner potentially creating conflict where there was originally no problem but [it] also can create emotional distress for yourself.” Instead, working to have lower expectations can keep your relationship on a healthy course.
Here are seven signs your expectations of a new partner are too high — and how to manage them.
While it’s fantastic to start a new relationship and agree on some level of commitment, expecting immediate, complete commitment from someone within the first weeks may be too high of an expectation.
“While dating should be fun, it is also an evaluation process (one that takes longer than most dating reality shows),” Schreiner says. “Each person may move differently through that evaluation. Don’t get impatient if they aren’t ready to be committed right away.” It’s important not to commit until both partners are ready, and sometimes the timelines are a bit different.
As you and your partner get more serious, you’ll likely spend more time together. If you expect your partner to commit to seeing you all the time, however, that might be dangerous for the relationship.
“One of the reasons your were likely attracted to this person in the first place is they had a fun full life,” Schreiner says. “You can’t expect them to drop all of their other interests in favor of you now just because you are dating.” Knowing that your partner has an active life outside the relationship should be empowering, not worrisome.
After years of a relationship, you may become high on your partner’s priority list. Early on, however, family, friends, and career may still come first. And that’s alright.
“Loyalty has to be earned in a new relationships,” Schreiner says. “It is unrealistic to expect that you partner will pick you over their family or friends at the start of a relationship.” Waiting for this kind of loyalty to develop naturally is a healthier bet than forcing your partner to prioritize you that much early on.
You may not yet understand everything about a partner early on in a relationship, and that’s OK. But it’s important not to assume they are perfect, or close-to-perfect, before you really know them well.
“Many clients I work with got into relationships very quickly, and didn’t know a lot about their partners, so they ‘filled in the blanks’ about them with all kinds of positive things,” David Bennet, counselor and relationship expert at Double Trust Dating, tells Bustle. ” [W]hen you’re in ‘new relationship mode,’ your brain assumes the best about the person, and asks questions later.” If you don’t know much about your partner, but still assume they’re the best person you’ve ever met, your expectations might be too high.
Even early in a relationship, you should be able to see some little flaws. If you absolutely can’t, or assume that those flaws shouldn’t be there on principal, then your expectations might be too high.
“Every relationship will have flaws, just as every partner will have them,” Bennett says. “Relationships survive by compromise, communication, and working past the flaws and problems.” If you go too long thinking your relationship is flawless, you’ll likely experience a letdown along the line.
Thinking that being in a relationship will solve all your life’s problems, or even a chunk of them, then you are putting too much pressure on your partner.
A relationship may help you feel happy and secure, but it cannot fix bigger issues. “If you think being in a relationship with your new partner will solve your problems, you have too high of expectations,” Bennett says. It’s not that some problems are unsolvable, or that a partner can’t help you reach your goals, but it’s important to know that a relationship is not a magic cure.
Just like it’s important not to expect your partner to always be able to hang out, it’s also important not to expect them to be constantly available to talk or text.
“Everyone has different expectation on response time in text messages,” Dr. Forshee says. “If you find yourself hinging on waiting for a response and feeling increasingly emotionally distressed or insecure because your new partner isn’t responding at the rate you expect, this is a sign your expectations are too high.” In a new relationship, it may take a bit of time to adjust and find out what frequency makes most sense for the two of you two communicate.
In the end, managing expectations won’t compromise the quality of the relationship; rather, it will keep your relationship stronger, longer. “It’s important to manage expectations because if you expect too much from a relationship, you’ll just be let down,” Bennett says. “Real life relationships, no matter how amazing, will always consist of ups-and-downs, frustrations, and challenges. When you’re in love with someone, your brain chemistry creates all kinds of unrealistic expectations about that person, and reality may be much different.” So forgive yourself for wanting the best, but forgive your partner as well.