Common Relational Expectations

To help you reflect on the expectations you might hold about your partner and vice versa, here’s a list of commonly held expectations people place on their romantic partners:

  • Be faithful.
  • Be honest and reliable.
  • Be flexible, understanding, and considerate.
  • Be affectionate and have fulfilling and frequent (or infrequent!) sex.
  • Put me and our relationship first.
  • Remember birthdays, anniversaries, and other important dates.
  • Be supportive in a time of need.
  • Be positive and fun to be around.

Honor Your Emotions. Broken trust creates strong emotional reactions. When we experience intense, negative feelings, we naturally want to feel better, and one way to make our negative feelings go away is to pass them on to someone else—usually the person whose actions triggered our feelings—by yelling, screaming, and attacking them. While attacking a partner may provide some temporary emotional relief, it doesn’t solve the problem and can, in fact, exacerbate it. The Paradox of Intimacy reveals that when people express their emotions in hostile and aggressive ways, they foster less openness and honesty in their relationships. In fact, attacking or criticizing a partner ultimately creates a defensive environment where you can count on more lies being told. On the other hand, dismissing your emotions or letting them get the better of you will not help you understand why you were betrayed nor lead to a meaningful resolution of the problem.