If there is one single thing that could destroy your relationship, it’s ignoring relationship expectations. If you and your partner set expectations in your relationship, and one or both of you ignore them, your relationship will suffer — and most likely fail.
Relationship expectations can — and should — be set by couples. Expectations are things that each couple needs to feel loved and respected.
When my boyfriend and I started dating, I asked that he do his best to do what he said he would do. He asked me to respect the importance of him having a car project going at all times.
We both accepted these expectations, or conditions, and we have both worked hard to meet them. It wasn’t always easy, but it works.
I can promise you that if we ignored these expectations, our relationship would be in shambles.
Here are 5 reasons that ignoring relationship expectations can be disastrous.
1. It causes a loss of trust.
When people are ignoring relationship expectations that have been defined and set by two people, one of the reasons that it is a recipe for disaster is because of the trust that is lost when one person doesn’t respect the other’s needs.
When I was married, once the children were born, it was very important to me that my husband get home in time for dinner. We talked about how important is was for both of us to have a family dinner, and as a result, we agreed that his getting home on time was important.
Unfortunately, work often got in the way. He would be absorbed in what he was doing and couldn’t break free, or his boss would stop him in the parking lot and need to talk about something, or a co-worker would need him right then and there.
And those excuses are reasonable, but they soon became the norm and not the exception. As my ex had an increasing tendency to be late for dinner, my trust in his willingness to meet my expectation was lost.
Because I didn’t trust him around this expectation, I struggled to trust him around other expectations. And the less I didn’t trust him, the harder I was on him and the harder I was on him, the less motivated he was to meet my expectations.
Losing trust because of ignoring relationship expectations was the beginning of the end of our marriage.
2. It means guessing, which can wreak havoc.
Many of my friends often say, “If he loved me, he would know what I want. I shouldn’t have to tell him.” This is a pipe dream and not setting clear expectations. Instead of asking them to figure them out, is a recipe for disaster.
Think about that time you tried to make your wife happy by taking out the garbage and doing the recycling on the weekend. You do those things because you want to make your wife happy and you feel like you’re doing your part.
Unfortunately, while she appreciates your efforts, it might not be the expectation that she has about the weekend. Perhaps she wanted to be able to go for a walk with friends and have you stay home with the children. Or perhaps she wanted to do something with you.
Whatever it is was, if you ignored it or didn’t remember it, she will feel let down and unloved.
This paradox also happens in the other direction, of course, when a woman is ignoring relationship expectations that she and her husband have agreed on. But in many cases, women are more intuitive and can anticipate what their spouse needs to make it happen.
So, if you’re struggling to meet your relationship expectations, talk to your partner and make sure you know exactly what each one of you needs so that you don’t have to guess. Guessing just doesn’t work.
3. It causes pain.
Unfortunately, ignoring relationship expectations can be disastrous because you can cause your partner significant pain. For many people, having their expectations met equals being loved.
If one person is repeatedly not meeting their partner’s expectations, that person will start to feel unloved. They will believe that their partner no longer cares for them enough to be concerned about what they want and will be devastated.
That being said, if your partner isn’t meeting your expectations regularly and you’re starting to feel hurt and unloved, it’s important to take a look at your relationship. You can identify if perhaps your partner has pulled away and might not in fact love you and want to meet your expectations.
If they are scared to say they are done, they will — most likely, subconsciously — use their actions to express how they feel.
Either way, ignoring relationship expectations and letting your partner down can cause a lot of hurt that could end the relationship.
4. It breeds resentment.
Resentment, and the contempt that often results from this emotion, is one of the biggest killers of relationships.
When a person finds that their expectations are no longer being met — or even worse, ignored — then they will start to feel resentful. The hurt and lack of trust caused by their partner’s actions will build up over time until the relationship between the two people becomes full of anger and misery.
Know that ignoring relationship expectations can lead to two of the biggest destructive forces in a relationship: resentment and contempt. Once those things become part of a relationship, they’re hard to let go of and will eventually destroy it.
5. It renders someone irrelevant.
When my ex regularly didn’t come home for dinner on time, I used to tell him that if he was my employee, I would fire him. He was consistently letting me down.
Not only was he interfering with our family dinners, but also causing me a significant amount of pain because I didn’t feel important to him. That pain was unbearable at times.
Over the years, as I was more and more let down by his struggle with getting home on time and completing other expectations that we’d set, I eventually started not counting on him at all.
We would have dinners without him, I would hire people to do chores that he didn’t have time for, and I wouldn’t include him in things that I knew he would struggle with attending. His actions had, I said, rendered him irrelevant. Our marriage didn’t last much longer after that.
Ignoring relationship expectations can be a recipe for disaster.
If you can work hard to not do this, you will be going a long way towards keeping your relationship healthy.
It’s very important that relationship expectations are defined. And if they aren’t met, it’s important that couples return to the discussion and see what they can do to shift the expectations to suit everyone.
I know now that my ex and I weren’t good at redefining expectations when they weren’t met.
There were things that we both struggled with that made it hard to manage expectations in a healthy way. He struggled with ADD, I struggled with depression, and our “baggage,” as I like to say, didn’t match. Unfortunately, we figured out these issues too late to save our marriage
So, if your partner is having a hard time meeting your expectations, try to understand that it might not be because he or she doesn’t love you, but because they have issues that make it very difficult to meet them.
On the other hand, if your partner is ignoring relationship expectations, it might be a good time to take a good, hard look at why. Is it that they want to meet them and struggle, or that they really don’t care anymore?
Looking at those things will help you figure out the next steps in your relationship, whether you want to move forward together or leave the relationship and find a partner who is more suited for you.
Mitzi Bockmann is an NYC-based, certified life and love coach. Let her help you find, and keep, love in this crazy world in which we live. Email her and get started!
This article was originally published at Let Your Dreams Begin. Reprinted with permission from the author.