5 Expectations that ruin relationships

Kate Taylor

Our relationship expert, Kate Taylor, reveals the 5 relationship expectations that are sure to ruin your relationships…

Expectations are defined as, “A strong belief that something will happen or be the case.” Which sounds perfectly innocuous, until you apply them to romantic relationships. There, they become time bombs of disappointment.

Expectations can cause you to have a huge list of qualities that your ideal partner MUST have, meaning you’ll never meet anyone who comes up to scratch. Or they can be hangovers from an unhappy relationship, and make you believe men can never be faithful, or all women are over-emotional, or nobody will love you when you’re over 50.

In a relationship, expectations are also deadly. They’ll whisper in your ear that a partner who truly loved you would never forget your anniversary/to unload the dishwasher/the last thing you said…

Here are the 5 most deadly romantic expectations, and some tips on how to avoid them.

 

1.    When you meet the right person, you’ll just know

When you meet a person to whom you’re sexually attracted, you’ll just know. Sure. Scientists have long known about the fireworks that go off in the human brain whenever we spot a hottie. But long-term compatibility isn’t always instant. It takes time to develop trust and build a connection.

How you’re feeling about yourself can also impact the time it takes to bond with someone new. When your life is going well and you’re happy, you will find it easier to be more open and confident when you meet new people. When you’re slightly depressed, stressed, or are plain old just having a bad hair day, you’ll probably avoid socialising altogether, or stick to spending time with your existing friends.

To boost your chances of finding the One sooner, self-love is the key. Boost your self-esteem, nurture yourself, and follow your goals and ambitions.

2. If a relationship takes work, it’s obviously not right

I’m scared to think how many Golden Wedding Anniversaries this particular misconception has scuppered. But it’s simply that—a misconception.

Every relationship will take work at some point. It might be when you first start dating, and a lack of confidence makes you too shy to open up. It might be when you move in together, and have to fit in with each other’s annoying habits, and annoying furniture. It’ll definitely be when the children arrive, and probably again when they leave.

Working on a relationship is healthy and rewarding. When it becomes a mistake is when you have to compromise huge parts of yourself in order to stay in the relationship at all. But when you’re both learning to adjust to each other, to accept there are times when more of the domestic drudgery might fall to you, or when your partner suffers an illness that is frightening and draining to both of you, that’s work that pays exceptionally well, in respect, admiration and affection.

 

3. Great sex is effortless 

Wrong! I’m the author of four sex books, presented two TV series about real-life sex tips, and I was GQ’s Sex Columnist for 5 years. The most important thing I learned in all that time was that great sex is something you can learn how to do.

Every sex expert I’ve interviewed has a knowledge of anatomy that a doctor would envy. Sex is an emotional activity, but the physical steps need to be mastered—you can achieve a perfect score in Artistic Impression, but still fail on Technical Ability.

Many singles leap from mattress to mattress, hoping to find the one perfect person who can unlock their orgasm, or improve their performance. The first time you become intimate with a new person is more exciting, purely because your brain releases Dopamine, the feel-good chemical that thrives on new experiences. Long term, great sex takes real time, and real practice with a real partner.

If you’re hoping to improve your sex life, buy a warm, friendly guidebook that you can read together. My Domestic Sex Goddess is written for couples who want to achieve the excitement of a new thrill within the safe confines of their relationship. Or Tracey Cox’s Hot Relationships will give you many new ideas to try together.

4. The right relationship will make me happy

Wouldn’t this be lovely? I’m afraid it’s not true. Sorry. While love does change the chemical make-up of your brain, it’s unable to cure depression. Or a bad job. Or stress. Or even loneliness. We experience our circumstances through our own emotional prism. If you’re a glass half-empty person, you’ll remain that way, even with someone else patiently trying to top you up.

It is possible for the wrong relationship to make you unhappy, however. Being with a partner who consistently puts you down, undermines you, restricts you from seeing your friends, or tries to control any aspect of your life can cause you to suffer genuine misery and clinical depression. If you’re in this situation, I’d urge you to consult a counsellor.

But if you’re single, or with a decent partner, don’t expect love to turn the gritty drama of your life into a rom-com. Your happiness is your responsibility.

If you’re regularly feeling down, or angry, or just off, go and see your GP. Many sources of depression can be traced back to vitamin deficiencies or fluctuating hormones. Or, if you know you’re an extrovert who needs regular social interaction to feel great, don’t put all that onto your partner; make more time for friends.

Think back to the last time you felt genuinely happy: note the season, your job, your lifestyle, your eating habits, even how you looked and what you wore. Track down the things that made you feel great in that moment, and take steps to bring those into your current world.

 

5. I’m just not good at relationships

Eventually, people can look back on a series of dating disasters, or unhappy relationships, and figure that the one common denominator was them. “I’m simply hopeless at this,” they’ll decide, and vow never to put themselves, or anyone else, through that pain again. 

There’s no scientific reason why anyone should be particularly good or particularly bad at relationships. There are traits that might make someone great at attracting new partners—symmetrical bone structure, a light-hearted personality, or even height have all been found to give an advantage to singles—but none of these things guarantee long-term success.

If you’ve ever thought that you just aren’t great at dating, then try on a new expectation: tell yourself you are magnificent at something simple and specific, like getting to know a new person over drinks and dinner. Explore your strengths—are you good at sensing what people need? Can you cook an amazing risotto? Are you calm under pressure? Are you a wonderful kisser? These are all skills that add up to make a lovely date.

Find new ways to bring potential partners into your life, like online-dating, joining clubs, or reconnecting with old friends, and see what happens. Your capacity for love might even surprise you.