Don’t let false expectations undermine your life

Posted: Friday, February 01, 2008
You’re single because your long-time marriage partner passed away. Maybe you’re on your own again because your second marriage, like the first, ended in divorce. Or, tired of the single life, you settled on someone who wasn’t quite right and after a couple of months ended the less-than-happy togetherness. So what is the key to your next relationship? Clearly it’s your expectations.

Fact: No couple is 100 percent compatible. Research suggests that most couples are probably less than 50 percent compatible in their responses, feelings and decision making over time.

There’s nothing wrong with that if the expectation of both partners is reality based. That means they are both willing to deal in a caring and supportive way in overcoming differences of opinion and feelings to make the relationship work. However, if they expect compatibility to be 80 or 90 percent or better, they’re bound to be disappointed.

Finding the right partner is never easy. But it’s a lot easier when we’re young and less burdened with past experiences. In the early years of our lives the partner pool is larger, and we’re more open because we don’t know what to expect. As we age, the choices become more restricted. At this point in our lives, we base much of our judgment on past experiences.

Experiences with other mates, lovers, husbands and intimate friends, both good and bad, form our beliefs and, in turn, govern what we expect from future relationships. Past history becomes the basis of future expectations for life in general and potential relationships in particular. The often quoted excuse of partner scarcity doesn’t seem a problem when seekers adjust their expectations to reality. But when they expect to find the perfect partner or soul mate their quest may yield no or poor results.

Fact: Perfection doesn’t exist. What is perfect to one person is unacceptable to another. Our own expectation may misguide us and we may pass on people with whom we could have a harmonious life together.

“We were so totally in love, I want nothing less than that,” says an attractive single who complains that “she hasn’t met anybody acceptable, though I’ve tried almost everything.” She engaged in several years of internet dating, joined single groups, even tried trips with a museum group – yet 14 later she years is still alone and regrets having passed on some men who, in retrospect, would probably have made great companions.

“I had a wonderful marriage for 31 years,” remarks a friend who’s become a widower. “I’ve been blessed. But I don’t expect to find the same thing again. Life is an adventure. I am open to a totally new chapter.” Clearly, his expectations are realistic, and he is bound to find another compatible partner.

Fact: No partner can’t be perfect. Demanding everything leaves no room for flaws which we all have. Asking for perfection means turning a blind eye to our partner’s differences; characteristics or issues. Perfection ignores tolerance for another individual’s beliefs or behavior patterns. It means not being able or willing to see the real person and love that person as they are but being fixed on a phantom partner that only exists in our own mind.

We should be clear about what we expect from a relationship, present or future and able to state in a nice way what we want, assuming we know what we want. What exactly do we expect from our partner? How do we communicate with each other? Daily, several times a day, every evening? What are our expectations about sex, about finances, about time together versus time apart, about sharing responsibilities, about family, in-laws and friends?

Incorrect expectations in any of these basic areas of life are bound lead to relationship difficulties. Realistic expectations, on the other hand, in terms of our potential or current partner may give us just what we want: the enrichment of each other’s life and enjoyment of companionship and love we treasure.

Jacqueline Brandwynne has worked in the health and beauty industry for more than 25 years and is creator of the Very Private line of products. Visit her at

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