We all have expectations – expectations about our jobs, our kids and our accomplishments. We even have expectations about our partners. It’s easy to think that if we make a list of our expectations, it will lead us to the perfect mate.

“Our hope is that if we walk into a room with a list of expectations, we will find someone who matches those expectations,” explains Jay Shetty. Although listing your expectations isn’t a bad thing, it’s not always the most effective way to find a partner. Our expectations can sometimes even lead us astray. In this article, Jay Shetty dives into eight false expectations that can make a relationship extremely difficult and reveals how having a list of qualities you value can be more helpful instead.

Creating a List of Expectations

A list of expectations won’t lead you to your perfect partner. In general, Jay Shetty believes expectations aren’t helpful because they’re merely a hope, wish or assumption that something like that already exists. “Expectations don't help you focus on creating, building or developing,” explains Jay Shetty. “It's all about finding, wishing and hoping. What that means is your probability for failure increases with expectations, as opposed to when you focus on creating, building and developing, you're less likely to fail because you work to influence the outcome.”

It might be tempting to write down all the things you want in a partner, but a list is often idealistic and doesn’t allow for mistakes, a past or new challenges. There is no room on the list for someone who is healing and growing; something that needs to happen in all relationships.

“Relationships are more about education and enlightenment than they are enjoyment,” explains Jay Shetty. “The education and enlightenment are the enjoyment. When you figure out your partner, learn about them and grow together, you enjoy each other.”

The 3 G Technique

Instead of setting expectations, Jay Shetty recommends employing the three G technique instead:

  • Set a Goal - Set a goal for the type of relationship you would like to have. Talk to your partner about what you want from the relationship. This will help set a mood and direction for both parties to work towards together.
  • Set Your Growth - Decide how you’ll reach your goal and what role each person needs to play to achieve it. There is no pressure from either party to do a certain thing. Rather, it’s about each person taking steps to reach the goal in their own time. You will have to decide how long you’re willing to wait for your partner to grow. Their growth is not up to you. It may take a long time, or it may not happen at all. This gives you the ability to decide if the relationship is right for you.
  • Have Gratitude - Replace expectation with gratitude. Be thankful for what you have learned along the way and realize some of the things you have now were at one point an expectation you had. Gratitude allows you to live in a centered and grounded place, bringing you to a place of alignment.

Focusing on the three Gs instead of expectations brings about growth and development. Now let’s dive into the eight unrealistic expectations Jay Shetty says people have for their relationships.

Expecting Perfection

Many people say things like, ‘I don’t expect my partner to be perfect. They just need to change this, this, and that.’ Don’t fool yourself! Expecting someone to change things to suit what you want is actually the same as expecting perfection, and expecting your partner to be perfect will set you up for disappointment. “I'm not saying to settle or accept less than you deserve,” explains Jay Shetty. “Don’t stay somewhere you don't want to stay. But there is a difference between a good relationship, a great relationship and the expectation of a godlike relationship.”

One of the main reasons people cheat or seek out other relationships is their belief that the next relationship will be closer to perfection. What people don’t realize is that the trauma and baggage from their current relationship will overflow into the next one, creating more baggage. “If you have an insecurity, you will feel that with anyone you are with,” shares Jay Shetty. “Don’t have the expectation of finding someone who’s perfect at supporting you, understanding you and holding you up. You could push away someone great if you are seeking perfection.”

Instead of expecting perfection from someone else, seek greatness in yourself. Help the other person become the best version of who THEY want to be, not who you want them to be.

Relying on Your Partner for Your Happiness

There is a false expectation that your partner should make you happy, but happiness needs to come from within. According to Jay Shetty, we all have the power to choose to be happy. If you depend on another person to make you happy, that places tremendous pressure on that person and on the relationship. Imagine how it would feel if you were the only person in charge of making your partner happy. That would be a lot of weight to carry around, wouldn’t it? Why would you want to put that pressure on your partner? “You're putting the pressure of making each other happy on each other,” explains Jay Shetty. “You should have the responsibility for your own happiness and sharing that happiness with others,” When you’re happy, it is easier to help someone else find their happiness. Focus on growing your sense of passion for life, and learn to develop your own happiness. You have to find your own before you can help others find theirs.

Expecting Your Partner to Read Your Mind

Do you expect your partner to know what you’re thinking and feeling? We think mind reading is a sign our partners know and love us. When someone knows what you’re thinking, you feel like your relationship is connected and meaningful. The problem is, it’s not realistic to think someone can know what’s going on inside your head all the time. This expectation can lead to frustration for you and your partner when they fail to know what you think or feel. Instead of hoping they will just know, communicate with them how you’re feeling or what you’re thinking. Jay Shetty believes communicating openly and honestly prevents your partner from the frustration of trying to guess what you’re thinking or understand why you’re doing what you’re doing. Through clear communication, your partner can learn more about you, and you can grow together in understanding. Focus on understanding your own needs and then effectively communicating them to your partner so no one has to guess.

Expecting Your Partner to Know How to Do Certain Tasks

Are there specific tasks in your relationship that you always take care of or things your partner does that you never do?

It’s common to split up chores and daily responsibilities, but things come up. If your partner needs to take over and fill in on something you usually do, are you assuming they know how to perform that task? Making an assumption like this is a recipe for disaster waiting to happen, but there are ways to avoid it, says Jay Shetty.

The first way to avoid this is to divide tasks based on who has the skill set to do the best job. This will save a lot of frustration for you and your partner. For example, Jay Shetty shares that he never learned to cook. It is not a skill he has. His wife, however, is an excellent cook, so she is the cook in the family.

The second way to navigate tasks is to teach your partner how to do some of the things you do so they can help you out. If they’ve never been taught, how can they help you? What you think is a simple task may not be so simple for them, so take the time to teach them that skill.

Don’t set your partner up for failure by thinking if they love you, they will learn that task. Love them enough to teach them that skill. Build them up so they learn and grow. It is not a competition to see who can do more. It is about learning and growing to help each other.

Expecting Your Partner to Have It All Together

You want your partner to be vulnerable and open emotionally to you, but also expect them to keep it together. You wouldn’t expect yourself to have it together all the time, so why put that expectation on your partner?

“I remember the first time Radhi cried to me,” shares Jay Shetty. “She's so good at having it all together, so I really had to check myself. I wanted to be there for my partner, so I had to understand. I had to listen and hear her out and realize that I couldn’t expect her to have it all together all the time.”

If your partner feels this expectation, they may decide to hold everything in. You may think everything is going along great, but just wait. Ten years down the road, they may fall apart over something major, and you’ll be shocked and struggle to understand where it came from. You made it too hard for them to be honest and open with you.

“Honesty means someone being transparent and saying exactly what they feel, even if it doesn't sound like something you want to hear,” explains Jay Shetty. When you remove the expectation of having to keep it all together, your partner is free to be themselves with you.

Expecting Your Partner to Want the Same Things as You

Just because you are in a relationship doesn’t mean you’ll always want the same things. You’re both individuals. You may have different backgrounds, different upbringings, even different opinions on things, and that is okay.

The problem is sometimes it’s tempting to see those differences as disrespectful instead of simply different, says Jay Shetty. Expecting your partner to think the same as you will not work. Building and creating a life together is more important and more fulfilling than expecting your partner to want the same things as you do.

Expecting Your Partner to Understand You Immediately

The expectation that your partner should understand everything the first time you tell them is unrealistic. Maybe your partner needs time to process what you said. Maybe they need to hear it again. Instead of expectation, switch to articulation. Help your partner understand by giving more explanation or clarification. Don’t take it as a lack of love on their part. They just need your help to understand things better. As you move from false expectations toward open communication in your relationship, you will cultivate a deeper, more meaningful understanding with your loved one. Exchanging expectations for goals, growth and gratitude will be the game-changer you need in your relationship.

More From Jay Shetty

Listen to the entire On Purpose with Jay Shetty podcast episode on “8 Unrealistic Expectations We Have in Relationships” now in the iTunes store or on Spotify. For more inspirational stories and messages like this, check out Jay’s website at jayshetty.me.

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