Larry James' BLOG

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Truth About Relationship Expectations

“Blaming others for the pain we feel each time someone fails to live up to our expectations is no different than burning our tongue on coffee that’s too hot to swallow, and then calling our cup an idiot!” – Guy Finley

Unfulfilled expectations always cause problems.

Having expectations in our culture is expected. We are brought up that way. Having great expectations sounds great however when the expectation is unfulfilled, we bitch, we moan, we become disappointed. That is a problem for most people.

For example, if I expect you to love me a certain way and your love doesn’t show up that way for me, I will most likely be disappointed. A better way might be to strive to get the need of being loved fulfilled by allowing your love partner to love you the way they love you. Your need to be loved a certain way is not a healthy need, it is only and always an unrealistic expectation.

Another disappointing thing about expectations is that they often do not come true. One love partner knows the expectation. The other love partner doesn’t know the expectation of the other. Expectations are in the eye of the beholder. Can you see the problem?

Needs must be communicated. Expectations are rarely ever communicated. Needs can be cussed and discussed. You must give careful thought to what needs must be fulfilled for you to know you have a healthy love relationship.

expectationsarepremedresentmentsAA“Expect the best,” is certainly a better attitude than the alternative. Some say, “If you always expect the best for your relationship, everything will work out better.” This is a myth. It will work out the way it works out and you will be disappointed because it didn’t work out the way you expected it to. You don’t always get what you expect. Expectations are premeditated resentments.

We often expect our love partner to make the best choices for themselves and our relationship and when they are not our choices, we often get angry or disappointed. . . or both. Most people call this situation a problem: a problem we create by our expectations.

Try this: “No expectations, fewer disappointments!” It’s that simple. Not easy. Simple.

By considering a new point of view, by changing our thinking about expectations, we open ourselves up to whatever good the ‘us’ of the committed you and me may be working on together at the time. Since we are detached from the way things need to work out, we may be surprised by the result. Even when we imagine the very best, we are often surprised, because if there were shades of doubt present in our imaginings, things may turn out better than we imagined. . . or worse.

Once we learn to identify our own individual, healthy needs, we must also learn not to be attached to the expectation of how those needs get fulfilled. This will always generate lots of surprises. That is when the adventure begins; the adventure the heart was crying for. Surprises create a sense of adventure; surprises you can enjoy together; surprises that create new and exciting possibilities for the two of you to experience.

Some of the surprises may show up as challenges for the relationship. They bring couples together and give them something to share. When two people really love each other and are committed to work together, those kind of surprises create the kind of conversation that empowers both love partners to continue to self-inquire, to investigate their curiosities about what they can do to stand together, to be challenged by the surprise and know that everything is going to be okay.

Problems are not to break us. Working together on problems makes us strong.

While there is something to be said about “expecting the best,” we must remember that disappointment comes from unfulfilled expectations. This does not mean that when your expectations do not get met, that the results are always bad. It only means that if your expectations don’t get met. Disappointment usually follows.

By thinking in terms of needs instead of expectations, we create vulnerability. Having needs with no expectations about how they will be fulfilled causes us to feel vulnerable. We have more to lose because now we know what we want. The outcome is less predictable. There is some risk involved. And we have a responsibility for getting our needs met.

Never give yourself away in the relationship. By “give yourself away,” I mean making sacrifices that conflict with what you need from the relationship. Never sacrifice your own personal integrity with regard to getting your needs met. The healthier image you have of yourself, the less likely this will occur.

There is a difference between duty and responsibility. When duty does not meet our needs, it is something to be avoided. For example, if there are children in the relationship you have a responsibility to take care of them. When it feels like duty, you have a responsibility to take care of your need to not have it feel like duty.

We all experience the need to have healthy choices exercised and when they don’t show up in our relationship, we either choose to have conversations about them or not. If the choices are abusive and therefore unacceptable, we begin to think about making a responsible choice to leave the relationship. However, always picking our lover apart because their choices are not the ones we would make can only point the relationship in the wrong direction.

If we could accept the notion that everyone is doing the best they can, regardless of whether their choices are our choices, our attitude about our relationship would improve and perhaps the relationship we have would become the relationship we enjoy being in.

We must learn to distinguish between expectations and needs. Everyone has a need to be loved, to be understood, to be accepted and to be forgiven when necessary. For us to have expectations about how those needs get fulfilled can only cause disappointment.

The number one problem in relationships is undelivered communication. It’s the things we don’t communicate because the last time we did, it caused a confrontation, argument, anger, frustration and we want to avoid these feelings so we stuff them. The next thing you know is, your partner didn’t take out the garbage and you want a divorce and it’s not about the garbage.

In my opinion, the number two problem in relationships revolves around unfulfilled expectations.

So, how do you sidestep the disappointment that always comes from unfulfilled expectations? Who wins the “expectations versus needs” dilemma? Needs, of course! You focus on your needs and make a commitment to never have any undelivered communication about them. Talk about what you need with your partner. Express your needs with love.

Unfulfilled expectations always cause problems.

We often call things that happen that cause disappointment, problems. To avoid disappointment or problems. . . as best you can, have no expectations, good or bad. When you have expectations there are never any surprises because the outcome is almost always predictable.

Disappointment follows unfulfilled expectations. The predicaments that follow are predictable. If your relationship is not full of surprises, it is most likely very boring and may border on being unhealthy. Having healthy needs is a natural and creative attitude to embrace.

It is important to allow your love partner the freedom to fulfill your needs in their own best way.

What you can be with in life lets you be!

When you know what you need from your relationship and can express those needs to your partner and be okay with allowing them to love you the way they can love you, you will see a shift in your relationship that goes far beyond what you ever could have imagined!

CLoveLOGOCopyright © 2009 – Larry James. This idea is adapted from Larry’s books, “How to Really Love the One You’re With: Affirmative Guidelines for a Healthy Love Relationship,” “LoveNotes for Lovers: Words That Make Music for Two Hearts Dancing” and “Red Hot LoveNotes for Lovers.” Larry James is a professional speaker, author, relationship coach and a nondenominational minister. He performs the most “Romantic” wedding ceremony you will find anywhere.

Subscribe to Larry’s FREE monthly “LoveNotes for Lovers” eZINE. Contact:, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. – and

NOTE: All articles and “LoveNotes” listed in this BLOG – written by Larry James – are available for reprint in magazines, periodicals, newsletters, newspapers, eZINEs, on the Internet or on your own Website. Click here for details.


Add Larry James as a “friend” to your Facebook page:
Follow Larry’s “once daily” Relationship Tweet at:
Follow Larry’s “Wedding BLOG” at:
Follow Larry’s “Networking BLOG” at:
Follow Larry’s “Author and Speakers BLOG” at:



  1. […] BONUS Articles: 30 Ways to Improve Your Relationship Forgiveness… What’s it For? The Truth About Relationship Expectations […]

    Pingback by Want a Grrreat Relationship? Ya Gotta Work it! | Larry James' BLOG — Sunday, June 29, 2014 @ 8:30 am | Reply

  2. […] a couple. Talking openly about them helps avoid relationship boredom. Clearly define both of your expectations to each other. Unfulfilled expectations always cause problems. Give up your expectations and […]

    Pingback by Tie Up Your Loose Ends Before You Tie The Knot | Larry James' CelebrateIntimateWeddings BLOG — Saturday, May 24, 2014 @ 11:56 pm | Reply

  3. […] up your expectations. Focus on what you need from your relationship. Then proceed with confidence. Mutually discuss your […]

    Pingback by 4th 100 Tweets from Larry James’ Relationship Twitter! « Larry James' BLOG — Thursday, September 30, 2010 @ 7:40 am | Reply

  4. I just read a book that exemplifies the dangers of unfulfilled expectations. Poisoned Love is a dramatic memoir and the thing that stood out for me that unrealistic expectations can be created by both parties. One has to not only not have unrealistic expectations, but also must be careful not to create unreal expectations. Honesty is the key. Anyway, the book was wonderful and discusses a Dr. who was driven to poison her Dr. boyfriend and the consequences and healing that followed.

    Comment by anna — Monday, January 19, 2009 @ 8:08 pm | Reply

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: