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Are Your Expectations Putting Unnecessary Pressure On Your Relationship?


The short answer is yes. But then again, I don’t really know you as a person so who am I to say anything about it.

The reason why I am sure enough to say “yes” without even seeing you is because we all have expectations that put pressure on our relationship. We’re human beings, we’re not perfect!

Hopefully, by reading this article you will gain a better understanding of the psychological processes that are going on behind-the-scenes in your relationship. And with this knowledge, you might be able to make some changes that will improve your relationship.

In this article, I will teach you about where your expectations come from, what they lead to and give you some ideas on what you can do instead.



In This Article…

  1. Your Partner As A Transitional Object
  2. Resentment On Both Sides Of The Relationship
  3. How To Communicate The Right Expectations In The Right Way


Your Partner As A Transitional Object

Sometimes, I like to think of each partner in the relationship as being a transitional object to the other.

For those of you who don’t know the term transitional object was coined by a paediatrician and psychoanalyst called Donald Winnicot and referred to an object that was used by a child to soothe their anxiety when separated from their mother. Classical examples of this are dolls and blankets.

Transitional objects can be seen as stepping stones to an eventual independence, wherein we replace the pacifier with the blanket, and the blanket with the tv set and so on.

Now whereas our partners may not fit into the concept of transitional objects perfectly (since we were single before we met them) they do act as a long-term replacement for the original object, the mother, as well as the father.


LISTEN: A Therapist’s Advice On How To Have More Meaningful Conversations


So with this in mind, it is quite understandable that we enter a relationship with certain expectations. When we are looking for a partner, we are looking for personality traits that are similar if not identical to our parents. The problem is that this psychological process is occurring without us knowing it.

At the same time, we are also thinking about the person that we are able to become if our partner meets our expectations. In other words, we see them as holding the key to us fulfilling our potential. So not only do we have expectations of our partner, we have expectations of ourselves.

Whilst we seek comfort in familiar patterns from past relationships, we also seek the potential to develop. And ironically, in some cases, these two things might be in conflict with each other.



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Resentment On Both Sides Of The Relationship

There are very few situations when expectations don’t lead to resentment in some way. Be it expectations from a boss or from a parent, the internalized pressure will eventually cause us to act out.

The problem when it comes to romantic relationships is that we are unaware of the expectations that we are bringing into the relationship. Most couples that go to therapy initially have a hard time putting words to their expectations. Now imagine having to talk about the psychological process that I explained above. That can be very difficult.

So for most couples the expectations that we have of our partners, as being transitional objects that offer us comfort in a similar way to our parents, and in turn the expectations that we have on our own development as a result, is not communicated. 



That is not to say that our partners don’t feel the pressure. Our emotional response, be it sighing passive-aggressively or crying or just being distant, will communicate to them that they are not meeting our expectations.

So, the fact that they are not meeting our expectations is communicated but what our expectations actually are, has not been communicated.

Understandably our partners can become resentful because of this. They have not been given the proper tools to do the work but are being blamed for the work not being done.

And when we’re both resentful, the relationship can become destructive. 


How To Communicate The Right Expectations In The Right Way

So now that we know the problem, how do we solve it?

Although it is tempting for me to give you a short and clear answer, I cannot. As with many things in therapy, the solution comes with being aware of the psychological process. From there, people develop their own way of challenging it. I often find that the best piece of advice is the advice that one gives oneself.

However, so as not to be seen as cop-out, I’ll leave you with this one thing… Make it a part of your daily routine, to ask your partner, what do you expect of me today?

At least that way, you will begin to communicate with each other about your expectations. That is a good place to start.

In this article, I have taught you about where your expectations come from and what they lead to. I have also given you one bit of advice on how you can communicate your expectations more clearly.



Next Article: How Falling In Love The Wrong Way Looks Like


Love is a very powerful emotion. It alone has the ability to cure our depression and anxiety in the blink of an eye – at least on a temporary basis that is!

But it also has the ability to murky the waters of our psyche, to leave us confused about who we are as an individual and this can make us even more depressed once the honeymoon period is over… READ MORE


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