It's important to know what you want out of a relationship and to make sure your needs are met, but there's a difference between knowing your self-worth and being overly demanding. If you constantly feel disappointed in your relationships, you might want to watch out for some signs that you expect too much from your partner. Relationships involve some level of compromise, and although there are aspects of relationships that are certainly non-negotiable, you may also have some expectations that might need to be readjusted.
"When we have unrealistic expectations about our relationship, we tend to feel disappointed or deflated when our relationships don't meet our expectation," clinical psychologist Dr. Helen Odessky tells Bustle. "This may lead us to abandon good relationships or to make negative comparisons to an idealized relationship and miss out on what works in our own relationship."
It's still important to have ideas of what you want out of a relationship, but it's useful to look critically at yourself and your partner to be realistic about what's possible and to make sure you don't go overboard. If you're someone who is always having troubles in relationships, you might want to pay attention to these nine signs that your relationship expectations are too high.
1. You Have A Long List Of Dealbreakers
Having an idea of what you want is good, but you don't want a long laundry list of deal-breakers. "Let’s face it: You want someone you can admire and trust, a best friend, soulmate, someone who would sit in a hospital day and night if you were sick, makes you laugh, and who wants to please you sexually," therapist Sue Mandel, Ph.D., LMFT, tells Bustle. "But must they be tall? Have hair?" If your list of priorities is keeping you from finding someone perfect, it may be worth it to re-evaluate how strict your criteria is.
2. You Don't Want Your Partner Spending Time With Friends
If you believe that if you were 'enough' for your partner, they wouldn’t want to spend time with their friends or have separate hobbies, your expectations are too unrealistic. "Nobody can fill another person’s every need, and each of your relationships — with your partner, parents, friends, siblings, co-workers — serves a different purpose —they aren’t of equal value," says Mandel. "When you try and put a leash on your partner so that you never feel 'left,' that is a form of control."
3. You Can't Seem To Make It Past The First Or Second Date
"This isn’t necessarily because your standards are too high, but it’s worth looking at," says Mandel. "Are you more aware of their flaws than their virtues? Do you find yourself picking at little things like their outfit or the car they drive? Are they almost good enough, but not quite? If so, it definitely sounds like your expectations are unrealistic."
4. Your Friends And Family Don't Agree
"One sign that your relationship expectations are too high is if you are receiving feedback from several people about your expectations," says therapist Christene Lozano, MS, LMFT over email. "Chances are, if you're hearing some of your friends and family comment about this, you may want to re-calibrate your expectations."
5. No One Has Been Able To Live Up To Your Demands
If no one you have dated ever has satisfied you enough, it might be you, not them. "You are asking someone to do things that no one has been able to successfully achieve in your relationship history, despite their best efforts," psychotherapist Judi Cinéas, LCSW tells Bustle.
6. Your And/Or Your Partner Never Feels Good Enough
If you or your partner are constantly feeling inadequate, it's a sign that your expectations are not aligned with reality. "When one or both partners feel like they’re 'never good enough' or are walking on egg shells, this creates a constant stressful, anxious energy within the relationship when the partners cannot feel free to be themselves," couples therapist Melody Li LMFT-A, MA tells Bustle. "Over time, they may find themselves distancing or avoiding each other, or even seeking other places to feel accepted."
7. Your Self-Esteem Depends On Your Partner
You shouldn't solely rely on your partner to be in control of your self-esteem, and you shouldn't expect to get all of your emotional needs met from just that relationship. "Although a healthy and fulfilling relationship contributes to our sense of wellbeing, one relationship cannot meet our needs all of the time," says Odessky. "We can meet our needs in a variety of ways, and adults can and do need to find other ways to connect and take care of their emotional needs."
8. You Never Expect Your Partner To Fight With You
No one likes it when our partner is angry, but it's normal for people in intimate relationships to have conflicts or disagree with passion. "We experience each other in ways that make us angry or hurt," says Mandel. "Expecting your partner not to 'fight' is a demand that they deny their emotion for the sake of your comfort. That kind of unrealistic expectation is very damaging because it deadens a vital aspect of ourselves and the relationship."
9. You Compare Your Relationships To Those On Social Media
If you regularly feel a vague sense of disappointment when you scroll through social media feeds, you might be expecting too much — all those grand gestures and photos of Instagram couples don't tell the full story of a relationship. "For most people, the rare grand gestures cannot replace subtle acts of connection, kindness and mutual respect which sustain real relationships — but they may not be social media worthy," says Odessky. It's what happens offline that matters more.
It's ultimately up to you to determine what you want out of a relationship, but if you're looking for perfection, you might end up constantly disappointed.