How do you fix unrealistic expectations in a relationship?

Relationships are complex tapestries woven with threads of emotions, experiences, dreams, and expectations. While most elements add strength and beauty to this tapestry, unrealistic expectations can cause it to fray. These can stem from romantic notions, past experiences, societal pressures, or personal insecurities. Left unchecked, they can lead to dissatisfaction, resentment, and relationship strain. Here’s a guide to identifying, understanding, and rectifying unrealistic expectations in relationships.

Understanding the roots of unrealistic expectations:

Before diving into solutions, it’s crucial to understand where these expectations originate:

Media and pop culture: romantic movies, novels, and fairy tales can sometimes paint an idyllic picture of relationships that’s hard to attain in real life.

Past relationships: negative experiences from past relationships can lead to defensive expectations in new ones, such as expecting a partner to compensate for a previous partner’s shortcomings.

Family and peer influences: observing relationships around us, especially those of our parents or close family, can set certain benchmarks in our minds.

Personal insecurities: low self-esteem or personal insecurities can lead to expectations that a partner will continually provide validation.

Identifying unrealistic expectations:

Recognizing that you or your partner harbor unrealistic expectations is the first step towards rectification. Some common ones include:

  • Believing your partner will always understand your feelings without verbal communication.
  • Expecting your partner to prioritize your needs over theirs continually.
  • Assuming that love means never having disagreements or conflicts.
  • Waiting for grand gestures to prove love and commitment.
  • Anticipating that your partner will change fundamental aspects of their personality or behavior.

Strategies to fix unrealistic expectations:

Open dialogue: initiate a conversation with your partner about your expectations. It’s essential to create a safe space where both can speak without judgment. Understanding each other’s hopes and dreams can help in setting mutual, realistic expectations.

Self-reflection: engage in introspection to understand the root of your expectations. Are they based on personal insecurities or past experiences? Understanding their origins can help in addressing the core issue.

Educate yourself: read books, attend workshops, or seek couples therapy to gain insights into healthy relationship dynamics. This can help in reshaping unrealistic expectations.

Avoid comparisons: every relationship is unique. Avoid comparing yours to others, be it your friends’, family’s, or those portrayed in media. Comparisons can lead to unwarranted pressures and expectations.

Practice empathy: put yourself in your partner’s shoes. This can help in understanding their perspective, making it easier to adjust your expectations.

Seek feedback: encourage your partner to provide feedback if they feel burdened by your expectations. Regular check-ins can prevent resentment from building up.

Set boundaries: while compromise is essential, it’s equally important to set boundaries. Both partners should be clear about what they are and aren’t willing to change or accept.

Celebrate achievements: instead of focusing on unmet expectations, shift your focus to celebrate achievements and milestones in your relationship. This fosters positivity and gratitude.

Reevaluate and adjust: as relationships evolve, so do individuals and circumstances. Periodically reevaluate your expectations and adjust them according to your current relationship phase and life situation.

Seek professional help: if unrealistic expectations persist and strain the relationship, consider seeking couples therapy. A therapist can provide a neutral perspective, tools, and strategies to build a healthier relationship foundation.

The power of realistic expectations:

Deepens connection: when both partners feel understood and not burdened by unrealistic demands, it fosters a deeper emotional connection.

Fosters mutual respect: recognizing and respecting each other’s limitations promotes mutual respect and understanding.

Promotes growth: realistic expectations can serve as achievable relationship goals, promoting individual and mutual growth.


Unrealistic expectations in a relationship can be likened to setting a ship on a turbulent sea without a compass. However, with awareness, understanding, communication, and effort, these choppy waters can be navigated, leading the relationship towards a harmonious and fulfilling destination.

By addressing and fixing unrealistic expectations, couples can build a foundation of trust, mutual respect, and genuine understanding. Remember, at its core, a relationship is a partnership, a shared journey where both partners grow, evolve, and navigate life’s challenges together. Keeping expectations realistic ensures that this journey is filled with love, respect, and shared joys.