16 Healthy Relationship Expectations List (& 4 Unrealistic Expectations!)

Relationships take work and constant effort from both parties, but this effort won’t mean much if the two of you are not on the same page.

The best way for partners to be on the same page with each other is to have a clear and healthy expectations list.

A relationship expectation list sets the guidelines for both partners and helps to create a healthy atmosphere of love and support.

When creating an expectations list, you need to understand what are realistic and unrealistic expectations so you don’t create a host of impossible standards and needs.

On top of this, having unmet expectations can lead to unmet needs and an unhealthy relationship down the road.

Resentment can brew and the chances of having a successful relationship can become less and less.

That’s why it’s important to be clear on what you want and communicate expectations with your partner.

But this doesn’t come naturally to most. Because of this, we’ve created an in-depth guide on how to create a realistic relationship expectation list and some of the key points to include!

Should You Have An Expectation List In Your Relationship?

Romantic couple having a moment during sunset - Featured i Important relationship expectations

Some people believe that having expectations in relationships can lead to being let down and disappointment. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Having expectations means that you are setting standards for yourself and for your partner, and you are letting them know what you want and need from them.

Without healthy expectations, you are putting yourself at risk of letting things slide more easily, things that you might not have initially thought were okay.

You are not only letting your partner know what it is that you expect, but you are setting the right standards for yourself as well.

This helps not entertain partners that aren’t right for you either. You are very clear on what you do and don’t want.

A relationship worth staying in, and a partner who is worth staying for, will respect your expectations. They will also give you their own.

As long as both of you remember to keep your expectations realistic and communicate honestly when they aren’t met.

Any serious relationship requires open and honest communication so there aren’t any mismatched expectations.

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Can You And Your Partner’s Expectation Lists Be Different?

It is very normal for partners to have different expectations in relationships, but these should be in line with each other somewhat.

Your partner might prioritize quality time spent together, whereas you might prioritize open communication more.

It is also very likely that your expectations would be based on your past experiences, where you have learned what is most important to you.

So while you and your partner’s expectations should run along the same ideals, they can be different, and they can be based on different ideals and values.

As long as they are realistic, they should both be respected and valued equally.

You can have some different expectations, and as long as the other person is capable of meeting them, there is no problem.

For example, perhaps you expect a very affectionate partner and they don’t have that as a requirement. As long as they are still capable of meeting your expectations, even if it isn’t one they want to be reciprocated, it shouldn’t be an issue.

Of course, there are some expectations, like loyalty, that you both should be very much on the same page.

How To Create A Relationship Expectation List

There are two steps required to create a healthy expectations list, and both you and your partner should follow the process to create a healthy list.

The first step is to sit down and think about what your expectations are for a relationship that you are in. Be honest with yourself when creating the list, and think about past relationships, your pain points, and what you value most from your partner.

This likely won’t be something you accomplish in one sitting, and the list will evolve and change as your relationship does, but you can start with your values and needs.

From there, you can add more and work on it further.

I highly recommend having an actual list on paper and not something you keep in your mind. I highly recommend having it written somewhere and referenced from time to time.

Once you and your partner have created your expectations list, or at least started coming up with it, you need to have open conversation about it.

There is no other way to let your partner know what it is that you expect if you do not tell them.

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Healthy And Realistic Expectations In A Relationship

Here are some healthy and realistic expectations that I have on my list, and I’m sure will be great additions to yours.

These expectations work to create a stable, supporting relationship where your standards are clear and your needs are more likely to be met.

You can adjust the list to be more personal to your needs and your past experiences in a relationship, but the core values are vital to a successful, nurturing environment.

Here are some healthy and realistic expectations to add to your list, but make sure to check in with yourself and see if there is anything else that resonates with you:

Honesty

You should expect to be given complete and total honesty from your partner, and you should give them the same.

Without honesty in your relationship, there can be no trust and no foundation. Building a relationship without trust is almost impossible, and you really need to be able to know that your partner is honest with you and does not hide anything away.

Honesty is possibly the most important expectation to have in a relationship, as everything else is built on from there. 

If you are constantly doubting what your partner is saying, then there is no way to create a stable relationship going forward. It should go without saying that you and your partner should be completely honest with each other, but speaking about this expectation just solidifies it more.

However, it is also important to keep in mind that your partner might have certain things they might not want to share with you, and it does not mean that they need to give you a rundown of every moment of every day.

Commitment

I consider this one of the most important relationship expectations to have. Unless monogamy isn’t a factor for you, commitment is highly expected in most modern relationships.

It is natural to expect your partner to be committed to you, and for you to be committed to them, but this is something that you need to let your partner know.

There are many different types of relationships, some more open than others, so letting your partner know the commitment you expect from them sets the tone for your relationship.

It lets your partner know the level of commitment you want from the relationship, and what type of relationship it is that you are looking for.

Knowing each other’s expectation regarding commitment ensures that both partners are giving equal effort into the relationship, and it should hopefully mean that nobody is left feeling let down or under-appreciated.

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Trust

You need to be able to trust your partner fully, and this doesn’t just mean trusting them when it comes to cheating and loyalty.

You should be able to trust that your partner will always have your best interests in mind, and that they will always have your back when you need them.

You should be able to expect support and reassurance from your partner, and the best way to have this need met is to let them know.

Trust is essential in a relationship, and it ties hand-in-hand with honesty and commitment, and these building blocks really go a long way to build a stable, healthy relationship.

You should trust and feel safe with your partner emotionally, physically, and mentally, and your partner should know that you expect that from him.

Equality

Finding an equal balance in a relationship can be really tough, as there will almost always be one partner who earns more than the other, or one partner who has a more dominant personality.

However, there are more ways to find equality in a relationship other than who earns more or who feels like they have more control. You and your partner will need to speak about this, and find a way to balance your roles in your relationship.

Let them know that you want to be treated as an equal, and that you will do the same for them. This is a 50/50 partnership, and both of your roles are as important as the other.

Let your partner know that you expect this from day one, and you will not settle for being second best in the relationship.

Proper Support

You need to be able to rely on your partner when you are going through a stressful time, a bad day, or if you are having some family or friend issues, so you need to let your partner know that you expect emotional and mental support from them.

It should be a standard that your partner should be there for you when you need them, but not everybody is perfect and life gets busy, so you need to remind them by letting them know that you expect them to be there for you.

You are a team, and the relationship will work best when you are both there for each other to lean on. You should not feel alone in your relationship, so set your standards from day one, and return it by being there for your partner when they need you.

Expecting Trust

We mentioned trust above, that you need to be able to trust your partner, but it is also just as important for your partner to trust you.

A relationship can be made so difficult if your partner does not trust you or put any weight in your loyalty, and they will make it very tough for you to live your own life freely.

Without your partner trusting you, you will feel like you have to relay each moment of every day to them, ask them permission to do things, or not have any privacy in your life.

Your relationship should not be built on hiding things, but you should also not feel as though you constantly need to answer to someone.

Tell your partner that you expect them to offer you trust, but you should also not give them any reason to not trust you.

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Time Apart

In the early stages, you might want to spend every waking moment with each other, and that is fine, but as the relationship progresses, you will realize how important time apart is.

This doesn’t mean that you have to have regulated space from each other, but rather time to yourself when needed.

Talk to your partner about this, and you will probably find that they agree.

The two of you should both be of the understanding that you will give the other space when they need it.

You should carry on doing things on your own, working on your own life outside of the relationship too.

You need some time apart to be yourself outside of the relationship, just as much as you need to spend time together.

A Healthy Physical Connection

Sex is not the most important part of a relationship, but it is a big part of a relationship, and is something that both parties need to be on the same page with.

While fostering the emotional side of your relationship, you and your partner should agree on the physical side as well.

Set out your physical expectations with your partner, what you are comfortable with, and what you expect, and they should do the same for you.

It might take a little back and forth to work out what you both agree with, or are happy with, but it is something that needs to be spoken about.

It needs to be done in an open, comfortable setting where the two of you feel free to share whatever it is you want to.

Mutual Respect

You are in a relationship with someone because you love them, which should go hand-in-hand with respect.

However, when you are with someone for quite some time, it can be easy to forget that initial respect, especially in heated moments and when life gets tough.

It can be easy to take your anger or frustration out on your partner, as they are the person you trust and love and feel safest with, but you need to remind each other to keep that respect throughout.

Set out your expectation that you need and require respect from day one and for the rest of your relationship, and make it known that the respect will be mutual.

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Time Together

Everyone is different, but you will know for yourself how much time you want to spend with your partner, and what time you need from them.

When setting out this expectation, be realistic. You can’t expect your partner to spend all of their time with you, but also make sure that they know that they can’t spend all of their time elsewhere and not dedicate any time to you.

You need quality time together as a couple, and you need to feel as though you are an important part of their life, which they can show through spending time with you.

Affection

Sex is only one part of intimacy in a relationship. Outside of the bedroom, physical affection is valuable in a relationship, and it helps show love between partners.

When it comes to affection, some people prefer more, and some less, some people don’t mind PDA, whereas others like to keep it more private.

Let your partner know what it is that you are comfortable with, and set out your expectations when it comes to affection.

You need to be understanding with this though, as you do not want affection to be forced or false, and it is likely something that will need to be worked on over time.

Continued Effort

Set a standard from the beginning that you expect your partner to put effort into the relationship, and into building a stronger bond between the two of you.

Relationships take effort, and without effort from both sides, then the relationship will not last, or not be as strong and stable as you would hope.

It’s natural for couples to become comfortable after awhile but having and communicating this need is important to keep the relationship spark alive.

Relationship satisfaction tends to go down over time, so making the effort to make sure you have a loving relationship the entire time is imperative.

Make a promise to always treat your relationship like a new relationship and not take them for granted down the line.

Constructive Criticism

Seeing our own mistakes and flaws can be difficult, so it really helps to have someone to rely on to offer constructive criticism where needed.

From the start, let your partner know that you don’t mind, and will often rely on, constructive criticism from them, but that it should be offered in a supportive, kind way.

Having someone who knows you as well as your partner does, give you constructive criticism and support is so helpful, and it is a tool you should look to utilize, instead of pushing away thinking that they are trying to hurt you.

To Evolve Together

The longer the two of you are together, the more change and development you will experience, and it is natural for your needs, wants and interests to change over time.

Make it clear from the beginning that you understand that you and your partner will evolve as time goes on, and that the two of you should embrace this together, rather than trying to keep each other exactly the same throughout.

It can be scary, thinking that you and your partner might change over time, but if you embrace it together, then you will change and grow as a couple, and be stronger than ever before.

Understanding

It is very likely that you and your partner will have different views and opinions on things, and this is absolutely fine, as long as you both are committed to being understanding with each other.

Make this a given from day one, and let your partner know that you expect them to understand your point of view, and that you will do the same for them.

Seek Out Fun

Lastly, but just as important, there needs to be an expectation for both of you to seek out fun, and to have a good time together.

Life can be stressful and tough, and it can be so easy to forget to have fun with the person you love.

Don’t lose sight of why the two of you are together, and put in the effort, no matter how hard it might be sometimes, to have fun together.

Plan a date night, watch a movie together, or even just go for a coffee. Let go and laugh, have a good conversation, and remind yourselves why you are together.

Setting this standard from day one is a great way to keep the fun in your relationship.

Unrealistic Relationship Expectations

The above are all realistic relationship expectations that are reasonable to set out on the table for your partner.

When it comes to unrealistic expectations, you need to know when you are crossing the line or when you are asking too much and being unfair.

Here are some examples of unrealistic expectations in a relationship, and what you should avoid asking of your partner:

No Friends Of The Opposite Sex

A sign of an unhealthy relationship is not trusting your partner, and if you do not trust your partner, you would want to restrict what they can do as much as possible. This could mean that you set out rules that they cannot have friends of the opposite sex.

This might mean expecting them to stop talking to life-long friends, just because you see them as a threat. This is not healthy, and if you do not trust your partner, this is not a way to fix it.

No Arguing

You might think that by setting an expectation of never arguing in your relationship, it will be happy sailing, but this actually paves a path for the opposite.

Arguing is a natural part of a relationship, as long as it is not constant and violent or done in a hurtful way. It is nearly impossible for couples to never argue, and it is sometimes the best way to work through smaller issues, so preventing any arguing at all does more harm than good, and sets up unrealistic, unobtainable expectations.

Spending All Free Time Together

To keep control of your partner, to know where they are, and to satisfy your distrust of them, you might set an expectation that you need to spend all of your time together. 

This is incredibly unhealthy, as your whole life cannot be based on your relationship and your partner, and you need to have time on your own, just as much as your partner needs time on their own.

This time apart makes your time together more special, and it is important to keep true to who you are as a person outside of your relationship. 

To Know What You Are Feeling

You might think that your partner would just know how you are feeling and what you are thinking and react accordingly. This expectation is incredibly unrealistic, and you can’t expect your partner to read your mind in order to meet your needs.

You need to communicate with each other, let each other know how you feel and what you need, as that is the only way to ensure that your needs are understood and met, rather than expecting your partner to read them through a crystal ball!

In general…

It is vital to have a reasonable expectation list for relationships, to set your own standards and to keep them, and to let your partner know what you expect from them.

When creating your relationship expectation list, keep the expectations realistic, and think about what you want out of a relationship and what is fair to expect from your partner.

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