11 Things It’s Not OK For Your Partner To Expect From You
Everyone has different expectations when it comes to relationships, but there are certain behaviors that are unacceptable, no matter how comfortable you are with someone. To have a healthy relationship, there are a number of things it's not OK for your partner to ask of you. Knowing where to draw the line when it comes to behaviors can help ensure that your relationship is as healthy as possible for both partners rather than filled with potentially toxic interactions or unbalanced expectations.
"Knowing how to set appropriate boundaries can make the difference in whether or not your relationship succeeds," couples psychotherapist Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. tells Bustle. "The topic frequently comes up in my counseling office, and most people think boundaries are set by telling the other person what the limits are. But boundaries are really something you must create within yourself. Having the confidence to say 'no' to another is one important aspect of creating boundaries, but it begins by knowing what you do and don’t want."
Sometimes, the line between acceptable and not in a relationship can feel blurry, especially if you are having trouble distinguishing if it's something you want, or your partner wants. Here are 11 things it's never OK for your partner to expect from you, according to experts.
1. Be Responsible For Their Thoughts & Feelings
Your partner should not blame their actions on you. "We all need to take responsibility for our own feelings and behaviors," therapist Jim Seibold, PhD, LMFT, tells Bustle. "Consistent blame, deflection, and denial is a sign of emotional manipulation." If your partner cannot own up to their actions, or apologize, it may be an indication that they have crossed a boundary and the situation is no longer healthy for you.
2. Give Them Access To Your Money
Finances are something to discuss with your significant other, but they should never spend your money that you don't want them to spend. "Financial security and respect is important in relationships," Seibold says. "It is common to have some different values about money, but it is important to be with someone who is fiscally responsible." If you do decide to share financial accounts, it is a good idea to discuss how you plan to spend shared money together.
3. Engage In Sexual Activity You're Not Comfortable With
"Sex is one of the most intimate acts in a relationship, and this should never be taken advantage of — period," Seibold says. "You may have different tastes, likes, dislikes, etc., but your boundaries need to be respected. If not, your partner is saying their desires are more important than your own." It is important that ongoing consent is always given by both parties before and during sex. Any coercion on the part of your partner is still considered sexual assault.
4. Give Up Friends Or Family
No one should tear you away from the people you consider your support system. "Asking you to isolate yourself from family and friends is often the first steps towards abuse," Seibold says. "The more isolated you become, the easier it is [for them] to be manipulative and controlling." If your partner is secure in your relationship,, they should be encouraging you to keep up with your loved ones. Any moves to eliminate them are definitely a red flag.
5. Go Against Your Values Or Beliefs
No one should ever ask you to compromise your own beliefs for their benefit. "A respectful partner will decide that if a value or belief is not compatible with them, they will end the relationship," Seibold says. "They understand that trying to change someone else is not realistic." In some cases, experts say that you both don't have to have certain values in common to be compatible, but if your partner cannot respect your differences, then that is controlling behavior.
6. Be Responsible For Their Happiness
Your partner should never make you feel like you're the sole person responsible for their happiness. "First of all, it’s impossible to make anyone else happy all of the time," psychologist Traci Stein, PhD, MPH, tells Bustle. "It's also completely inappropriate for a partner to expect you to constantly baby them, agree with them, or cater to their every need." If someone expects this of you, Stein says it's time to reconsider that relationship.
7. Read Their Mind
"Even if you were the world’s greatest intuitive, you would not be able to correctly discern what your partner thinks, needs, or feels all of the time," Stein says. "When you genuinely care for each other, you tend to pay attention, and therefore sense when someone is feeling down or unwell, or is just not their normal self. But one of the hallmarks of a healthy, emotionally mature relationship is effective communication — which is respectful, but proactive, and direct." A partner that refuses to talk openly about their feelings, and expects you to know what they are without saying anything, may not have the tools to be in a healthy relationship.
8. Change Your Mind About Children
It's never OK for your partner to expect you to a have a child if you don't want one — or to try to change your mind about having one if you do. "If there is a real discrepancy between what you both want with regard to having a family, that will require a lot of honest, respectful discussion, soul-searching, and perhaps consultation with a couple’s therapist," Stein says. "Make sure you are both in a place of peace with whatever you decide as a couple before either having a child or committing to being child-free."
9. Tolerate Bad Behavior From Others
Everyone has that obnoxious family member or sassy friend, but your partner should never tolerate someone repeatedly treating you poorly. "[I]f someone is...overly controlling, or overtly nasty, your partner is the one who should step up and say something to their loved one," Stein says.
10. Share Private Information You Don't Feel Comfortable Sharing
Although sharing is extremely important in relationships, your partner should never badger you to tell them personal or private things. "It’s OK to say 'That’s private,' as long as you are not using it to deceive or cheat on your partner," Tessina says. "For example, if you have a long chat with your sister or a friend about love, family, or health matters, your partner doesn’t need to know."
11. Agree To Everything They Want
Relationships require some give and take, but your partner doesn't have the right to get everything their way. "You don’t have to spend all your holidays with your partner’s family, or stop eating foods you love, or stop seeing friends [they don't] like," Tessina says. "Strive for partnership and balance."
Everyone has their own boundaries of what they feel comfortable with, but your partner should never put you in a position where you feel like you're compromising them for their happiness.
This piece was originally published on December 28, 2017. It was updated on June 26, 2019.