The beginning of a relationship is a super exciting, fun, and romantic time: there's almost nothing better than the feeling of forming an intimate connection with someone new while you enjoy all the lovey-dovey feelings of the honeymoon phase. But as carefree as the first few months of a relationship can be, it's also a great time to think about setting healthy expectations in your relationship — because even if things seem perfect, it's important to make sure you don't actually have unhealthy expectations of your new relationship.
"I think many unhealthy expectations in new relationships come down to being overly idealistic or overly cynical," Jonathan Bennett, Dating/Relationship Expert and Owner of The Popular Man, tells Bustle. "Many people look at relationships in terms of fairytales and movies. They believe everything will automatically end up 'happily ever after'." But as you'd imagine, people and relationships are imperfect, says Bennett.
When you're infatuated with a new partner, it can be hard to remove your rose-colored glasses and examine your relationship objectively. But if you want to be with your partner long-term, it's important to set healthy, realistic expectations for your relationship at the beginning — and then be cognizant of which aspects of your relationship are or are not living up to those expectations.
"If you’re too idealistic during a new relationship, you’re only setting yourself up for disappointment as your 'feel good' brain chemicals fade and reality sets in," Bennett says. "It might even be a great relationship... but, if you’re expecting perfection, you’ll always be disappointed. But, the opposite view can poison a relationship too: extreme cynicism... If you’re expecting the relationship to fail or assume the worst from your partner, it can turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy and cause a promising relationship to actually fail."
Simply put, it's not healthy to expect too much or too little from a new relationship. If you're worried you're in the former camp, here are seven examples of unhealthy expectations that could be signs you've set the bar too high in your relationship.
1. You're Self-Conscious About How Your Relationship Appears On Social Media
It's undeniable that social media plays a role in modern relationships, but that doesn't mean it's healthy to put pressure on your partner or yourself to make your relationship appear a certain way to others online, or to feel upset if you think your relationship doesn't "stack up" to other couples based on what you see on your Instagram feed.
"If you’re constantly comparing your relationship to everyone else on social media, you’re going to be disappointed with yours," Bennett says. "Social media usually shows the best sides of a relationship. It’s unfair and unwise to compare your relationship to the highly controlled image others choose to reveal on social media."
2. You Expect Your Partner's Life To Revolve Around You
Over time, it's normal for you and your partner to become each other's number one priority — but in the early stages of a relationship, it's unrealistic and unfair to assume that your partner can and will drop everything for you at any time.
"A healthy, balanced partner will have varied interests and priorities," Bennett says. "In fact, that is likely what made [them] attractive in the first place. Consequently, you can’t realistically expect your partner to cater to your every need, always put you first, and have [their] life revolve around you."
3. You Expect Your Partner To "Prove" Their Love
There's nothing wrong with making romantic gestures or enjoying when your partner makes them for you, but you shouldn't expect your partner to constantly "prove" their love to you.
"If you’re constantly pushing your partner to provide proof of [their] love, commitment, and devotion, it’s going to push [them] away," Bennett says. "Constantly expecting proof of love is a very unhealthy expectation."
4. You're Overly Focused On The Future
In the early stages of a relationship, it's normal to be excited for the future and to want to make plans together. But if you have an entire "plan" for your relationship already mapped out in your head, that's a sign that you're expecting too much, too soon.
"If you’ve mapped out your entire relationship with your partner in your head and are constantly focusing on the future, you’re bound to be disappointed when your relationship takes a different path than you expected," Bennett says.
5. You Expect To Hear "I Love You" Right Away
One of the scariest but most exciting moments in a new relationship is unquestionably saying "I love you" for the first time. There's no shame in feeling the love early on in the relationship, but everyone falls in love at their own pace — and you shouldn't put pressure on your new partner or expect them to say "I love you" right away.
"It's easy to say 'I love you' while you're infatuated, but some people want to wait to say those [three] words when they actually feel the deeper attachment love," Anita Chlipala, LMFT, Dating/Relationship Expert, and Relationship Therapist at Relationship Reality 312, tells Bustle. "Everyone has a different timeline for when they feel comfortable professing their love."
6. You're Disappointed By The Gifts They Give You
If your love language is receiving gifts, you might feel let down or upset if your new partner gets you something that misses the mark — because it might seem like an indication that they don't really "get" you. But if you just started dating, you shouldn't expect your partner to read your mind and know exactly what you want... that's just something you need to discuss.
"While you might want a certain type of gift, you can't expect that someone will know when you don't share what you want," Stef Safran, Chicago's 'Introductionista' and Matchmaker at Stef and the City, tells Bustle. "[Also] don't expect that spending a certain amount means they care more about you!"
7. You Expect To Be With Your Partner 24/7
In the beginning of a relationship, it's normal to spend a ton of time together as you get to know each other — but healthy couples know that it's important to have interests and hobbies outside the relationship, too.
"While the first few months maybe you spent a lot of time together on the weekends, reality does creep in," Safran says. "If you expect that every weekend is supposed to be about you both as a couple, you forget that its much healthier to have separate friends and interests."
Ultimately, only you and your partner can decide what works best for your relationship. So whatever your expectations are, just make sure that you're on the same page and are able to communicate openly with each other — if you do that, your new relationship has a much better shot at lasting long-term.