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Expectations In A Relationship – Good, Reasonable & Unrealistic

expectations in a relationship

Have you ever wondered if your expectations of a man in a relationship are too high or even too low? I know I have. And a lot of these different expectations are even documented in this blog.

The truth is it’s hard to know what to expect from a man in a relationship.

Especially if most of your experiences in the past were casual relationships or situationships without any responsibilities towards each other. 

However, that changes once you start dating with purpose.

Now you need standards and expectations in relationships in order to discern better. Is the guy you are dating really the one? Is the guy you are dating serious about you? Or is it time to move on from the long-term relationship you’ve been holding on to? 

To help you differentiate between good, reasonable, and unrealistic expectations in a relationship, I decided to share with you a list of example expectations in a relationship

reasonable expectations in a relationship

The difference between standards and expectations in relationships

Most people use expectations and standards interchangeably to communicate what they want out of a relationship. However, they do not mean the same thing.

Expectation meaning:

A person’s expectations are strong beliefs that they have about the proper way someone should behave or something should happen.

Standards definition:

A level of quality or achievement, especially one that people generally consider normal or acceptable. 

Both, standards and expectations in relationships can be used to communicate what we want. 

However, they are communicated at different stages in the dating process.

Standards are the bar we set for someone to qualify as a romantic partner. Expectations are what we demand of someone to provide or be once we are in an intimate relationship.

While we can control whether someone meets our standards or not. We have only limited control over whether someone fulfills our expectations. The latter is entirely up to them to decide. 

The trick lies in understanding the difference between standards and expectations. And then to come up with a list of expectations in a relationship that helps you forge a loving relationship. 

What are examples of expectations in a relationship?

Be honest with me. Are you the type of girl that everybody calls picky and advises to lower her expectations? Or are you the type of girl that all her friends tell to get (higher) standards and stop acting so desperate?

No matter where you find yourself on that spectrum, we all have been in a situation, romantic or not, where we set expectations for someone. 

Some common examples of expectations include how you want to be treated or how you expect the other person to talk to you. But also how long you expect to date or even when you expect to get married.

Whether you are aware of it or not, we always have expectations of others. And they are very important in relationships.

While a new relationship can be fun and exciting, it can also get irritating and frustrating if it does not live up to your expectations.

Because then you have unmet needs that will sooner or later manifest in resentment. Which oftentimes leads to disappointment, hurt, and anger. 

With unmet expectations being the number one cause of divorce in today’s marriages, high expectations don’t just affect our love life, but also our career, friendships, and goals. 

They are like the root of all heartache.

The problem with expectations, however, is that they are needed in every human relationship. But in order to be effective, expectations need to be understood, communicated, and fulfilled in order to not disappoint. 

If your expectations of a romantic partner are too low you run the risk to be treated poorly and if your expectations are too high you may end up resenting the other person. 

examples of expectations in a relationship

What are some good expectations in a relationship?

The first set of expectations I want to look at is good expectations.

These are expectations that every one of us will assign a different weight to. To some, they are the icing on the cake, while to others they are very important.

Commitment to the relationship

Number one is a heavy hitter and quite frankly a must to me personally. But I do acknowledge that the way I desire commitment from a man is not the standard for everybody.

I mean y’all know me. I want to be married for a lifetime. But I get it that you may not need that type of commitment. Which is why I put it in the “good to have” file.

I believe that some degree of commitment is needed in order to feel safe and secure in a relationship. However, it can look different for everybody. It is best to discuss it upfront to avoid a misunderstanding.


Different people show affection in different ways, which means it doesn’t have to be a must-have.

While some people feel uncomfortable with too much physical affection and prefer showing it with words or actions, it is still very important to have some sort of physical intimacy as a couple.

Therefore, you should discuss what adequate affection (kissing, holding hands, or cuddling) is important to you for building a deep bond. 

Quality time together

My number 1 love language is quality time, which is why this is one of my more important relationship expectations.

Spending time with my partner allows me to build a deeper connection with him. And if you are the same way, you may want to discuss it and find out how your partner feels about it.

Emotional support

Another important conversation to have with your future partner is about emotional support.

In the past, I’ve been in relationships where the man I was dating was emotionally unavailable. That led to a lot of challenges and me feeling not cared for.

It’s one of these things we assume everybody is comfortable with. But in reality, men often deal with emotional turmoil very differently from us, which can make it hard.

good expectations in a relationship

What are reasonable expectations in a relationship?

The next type of expectation is reasonable expectations in a relationship.

Think of these as your relationship rules. Expectations that you do not just have the right to demand but actually should demand if you desire a healthy relationship


The first one definitely goes without saying. And that is that you should expect mutual respect from your partner.

Treating each other in a respectful way, even when disagreements arise, is crucial to the health of your relationship. Prior to entering into a relationship, you should communicate what respect looks like to you and what you will and will not accept.


There is nothing worse than feeling like your partner does not make any time for you. It gives the impression that the relationship is not a priority to him and therefore can cause a lot of pain.

Agreeing on a minimum and maximum amount of time you will see each other or communicate per week is a great way to discuss your expectations around time, which will lead to a more satisfactory relationship. 


Every good relationship faces challenges. It’s unavoidable and leads to growth. The best way to ensure you and your boyfriend can get through them is by being able to compromise.

Whenever you and your partner bump heads you want to be able to keep an open mind and come up with a solution together. Because challenges are not a bad thing but an opportunity for growth.

As you can see, all these are healthy relationship expectations that will improve the relationship if communicated in the early stages of the relationship. 

Remember that in a serious relationship you will also have to accept and meet your partner’s expectations in order to get to a mutual understanding.

And most importantly, remember that he is not a mind reader. So you first have to communicate your standards and expectations in order to get to common ground.

What are unrealistic expectations in a relationship? 

Now that we got the good out of the way, let’s look at some examples of unreasonable expectations and unrealistic standards that you may have to let go of.

1. You expect him to be more emotional

As a woman, you are most likely attracted to a man because he is a man. However, a lot of times in relationships women expect their men to turn into their best girlfriends after a while. With the same amount of empathy, emotions, and vulnerability.

Which is very unlikely. 

A man is a man and will not act like a woman, no matter how much you desire him to. Expecting him to relate to you as your best friend does is therefore unrealistic.

Constantly nagging or complaining about his inability to deal with challenges or feelings the way you deal with them will therefore lead to a lot of arguments. 

Instead of trying to change your partner, change your approach. Find out how he deals with emotions and feelings best and relay the information in a way that supports that approach.

A great resource for that is Dr. John Gray’s “Men are from Mars, women are from Venus”. This book is a brilliant guide to understanding how healthy men and women are different.

standards and expectations in relationships

2. You expect him to be perfect

Funny enough we all know that there is no such thing as a perfect human being, therefore we say sentences like: “you may not be perfect, but you are perfect for me.”.

While I myself love it when the main character of a good Hallmark movie says that phrase before kissing his love interest, this sentence bears danger. 

Being perfect for someone suggests that your boyfriend needs to meet every single criterion you consider boyfriend material, without any room for deviation.

See the problem right there? 

Expecting someone to be perfect for you, means that every time they do something that you do not consider perfect they failed in your eyes, which will turn you off really quickly and communicate to them that they are not good enough for you. 

Therefore, rather than expecting your man to meet all your criteria, find out what things you truly need in a relationship and allow him to be himself without complaining. 

3. You expect him to be your source of happiness

This point, I believe, is a big one for a lot of women. Even if you don’t expect anything from the relationship, I can assure you that you at least expect one thing.

And that is that the relationship should make you happy. 

While I am a firm believer that your relationship should add to your life and not distract from your life, I also believe that your relationship, or even more specifically your boyfriend, fiancé, or husband is not responsible for your happiness. 

By expecting your partner to be your source of happiness, meaning that his presence, behavior, and actions stimulate you into happiness, you are putting him on a pedestal he is bound to fall off of. 

Because at the end of the day, no one is in control of your emotions but yourself. 

Your happiness has to come from within yourself and is ultimately your job. Better than expecting your partner to make you happy, do the inner work it takes to cultivate joy by yourself. 

4. You expect him to love you the way you love

As women, we often assume that being the traditionally more emotional, caring, and affectionate gender, we are the measuring bar for how love is shown.

In relationships, it often translates to the expectation that the way you show love is the right way and therefore he should adapt to it. 

The problem with that thinking is that no two women show love in the exact same way and definitely no two people of the opposite gender.

According to Gary Chapman’s “The five love languages”, people show love in one of 5 ways: gifts, words of appreciation, acts of service, physical touch, and quality time. 

Therefore, the challenge lies in finding out the primary love language of your partner and yourself and teaching each other how to provide it. A boyfriend that is open to learning how to show your love will meet your expectations more likely than one that is hesitant.

5. You expect him to want the same things in life

Before you take this point out of context and assume I’m suggesting you enter a relationship with someone that is unequally yoked to you, I want you to read carefully.

While compatibility is my main focus in relationship coaching, it needs to be said that even the most aligned couples have to learn to compromise. 

Depending on the age, environment or season of life the two of you met, chances are that your outlook on life or goals for the future will shift. Ideally not a whole lot, but a little bit. 

Therefore, you cannot expect to always agree with your significant other in your relationship. Instead, you will have to learn to compromise in order to make things work. 

Thankfully, the above-mentioned 5 unrealistic expectations of a man in a relationship are common and therefore come as no surprise to most of you.

But what about the type of expectations you should have in a relationship? 

unrealistic expectations in a relationship

How to communicate expectations in a relationship

The number one way that we cause unmet expectations to surface is by failing to communicate them clearly.

In a romantic relationship, it is important that you express your needs to your partner openly and honestly with courage, compassion, and compromise. 

You will need the courage to demand your needs be considered and met, even if he is apprehensive at first.

Communicate expectations in all areas of your life; household chores, work, children, sex drive, family members, everything. In addition, you will need compassion to listen and honor his expectations, even if you are not used to them.

And lastly, you will need the ability to compromise if you want the relationship to prosper. 

Communicating your expectations in a relationship might feel daunting in the beginning but will get easier as you get to know and trust your man. 

What to expect from a man in a relationship 

Regardless of how prepared you are for the relationship, you will always find that there is a discrepancy between what you thought it would be like and what it really is. 

Meaning that you will find that your dating expectations or even marriage expectations are derived from a completely unrealistic view and therefore don’t add up in real life. Some might even be outright unhealthy expectations.

That’s why I suggest that you review and evaluate your expectations whenever you get into a relationship. And once you are certain that he can meet them, communicate those effectively. 

On the flip side don’t hold on to unreasonable expectations whenever they surface. Be willing to let go of them for the sake of the relationship. 

Healthy expectations in a relationship are the ones that you can expect your man to meet. And if he doesn’t then it’s a sign you may be unequally yoked. 

What are your expectations in a relationship? 

In relationships, couples have an implicit social contract. A set of rules, expectations, and boundaries that define their relationship. 

Believe it or not you probably already have a set of expectations before you even get into the relationship. 

The problem arises when these expectations are not verbalized and instead only exist in your head. Which makes it hard for your man, because he is unable to live up to an expectation that he doesn’t know about. 

So, instead of waiting until you get into that relationship and subconsciously testing your man, make a list of expectations now. 

Communicating these with your partner helps grow the relationship as they know the right things to do.

In addition, a lot of people subconsciously believe that expecting something to happen will make it happen without a reason why. This unreasonable thinking that someone will behave in a certain way, just because you think he ‘should’ only leads to disappointment and resentment.

Forget about the unconditional love way of thinking and communicate what you want and need.

Even though unspoken expectations of any form are hard to fulfill, it gets even worse if your boyfriend doesn’t meet those that were unrealistic in the first place.

Think of these expectations as ground rules. At the end of the day, you don’t just hope for a good relationship. You build a strong relationship with the small things such as communicating your needs and wants.

What are the 5 most important things in a relationship?

If you are still unsure of how to figure out what expectations you should have in a relationship, then consider these. The 5 most important things in a relationship are:

  • Commitment
  • Communication
  • Mutual trust
  • Mutual respect
  • Intimacy

These are the building blocks of a successful relationship and as long as you lean your expectations on them you will choose a good partner.

Remember that having expectations in a relationship is not a bad thing. We go about life with expectations, so why not your relationship? Having a list of expectations ensures your needs are met and the relationship feels fulfilling.

expectations in a relationship

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