Setting the Bar

Healthy Dating Expectations

When it comes to dating and relationships, here are a few tips for setting healthy expectations and avoiding disappointment.

#1. Take your time.

Sure, you might want to settle down as soon as you can, but if the person you’re dating wants to take things slow, don’t write them off just yet. Expecting daily phone calls and increasingly frequent dates, then cutting things off if that’s not happening could cause you to miss out on the right person. Plus, subjecting them to those high expectations might just push them away. Instead, let the relationship develop slowly and effortlessly over a few months.

#2. Know the difference between passion and love.

In the beginning, things can be passionate and feelings of infatuation might define the relationship. But expecting that to last forever is not always realistic. Healthy, long-term relationships are built on love, appreciation, and respect – not just infatuation alone. If some of the simmer starts to fade after a while, look at the whole picture. 

man and woman enjoying their time in a restaurant

Relationships built on love last a lifetime, while infatuation may fade. The good news is, if it’s meant to last, bonding will kick in once the honeymoon phase is over. Bonding is a feeling of closeness that’ll keep you together for the long haul.

#3. Express your wants and needs.

You might think your partner should just intrinsically know that you love receiving flowers or getting a text each morning. But, according to Psychology Today, this kind of expectation sets you up for failure. You alone are responsible for communicating your dating expectations. Relying on your partner to read your mind is more than likely a lose/lose situation. You’ll end up let down, and they’ll end up frustrated that they can’t seem to make you happy. Realize that your partner won’t be able to meet all your needs – some will have to be met on your own.

#4. Accept that changes will occur.

As a relationship progresses, change is inevitable. Once your relationship is established, it’ll have a more complex dynamic – but that won’t mean it’s not as rich and fulfilling as it was in the beginning. By building a good foundation, you’ll be able to take on these changes head-on. Explore each other’s interests early on so you’ll have plenty of things to enjoy as a couple as the months and years progress. Also make the habit of checking in with each other periodically to keep tabs on expectations and goals as the relationship evolves. Brushing changes and difficulties aside will only cause them to snowball into bigger issues later. 

#5. Realize they're not solely responsible for your feelings.

There is no doubt that if your partner does or says something hurtful, your hurt feelings are a result of their actions. However, if their daily lives or harmless practices get you down, you’re expecting them to take an unrealistic responsibility of your feelings, according to Psychology Today. Case in point – if your partner enjoys playing golf with friends on a weekly basis, but you feel slighted by their choice to not spend that time with you, you’re making them responsible for your feelings of loneliness. Having them quit their weekly golf match just to satisfy you won’t settle any long-term issues – instead, it’ll build resentment. According to the University of Texas Mental Health Center, in a healthy relationship, each partner respects the other’s right to have their own feelings, friends, activities, and opinions. 

Get access to the next issue before it hits the stands!