Relationship Expectations: Where Do They Come From?

Similar to most expectations we carry, I believe they come from the people who are closest to us, and society as a whole. Many of us have a tough time thinking for ourselves, and up until recently, I’ve struggled with this as well.

“What is the hardest task in the world? To think.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

I think of relationship expectations are contagious. In the past, if someone close to me said it bothers them when their partner does XYZ, I might have thought, oh does that bother me too? Even when it doesn’t. For example, one time I had a partner who frequently went out of Saturday nights without me, but made time for me other nights of the week. It didn’t bother me much until someone close to me told me that it would bother them. Well, that resulted in a fight and some confusion. I don’t blame anyone involved in the situation. I blame myself for listening to the noise of others’ expectations. Truth be told, we each have our own unique perceptions and no one else experiences what we experience. It is impossible for us to share consciousness (at least not yet, who knows what future technology holds?) So, why should we let others tell us how to feel?

There is an incredible amount of pressure on women to get married by a certain age — for the purpose of this blog post, let’s say that age is 30. This pressure comes from social media, the wedding industry, entertainment (think of all of those romantic comedies!), friends, family, and an infinite number of other sources. I can’t speak for men, but I know women feel it.

Although there is this famous quote…

“Because I am female, I am expected to aspire to marriage. I am expected to make my life choices always keeping in mind that marriage is the most important. Now marriage can be a source of joy and love and mutual support but why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage and we don’t teach boys the same?” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, We Should All Be Feminists

She hit the nail on the head, but I won’t get into the gender differences (maybe in another blog post).

I’ve witnessed and experienced this feeling. I am single and almost 27 years old, the chances of me getting married by age 30 are slim, and you know what? I’m okay with it. If you are in a similar situation, I hope you are not feeling any pressure. If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone ask a couple or an individual who is in a relationship something along the lines of “ when are you two going to tie the knot?” I’d be rich enough to Uber to work every day (a minor goal of mine jk lol). I guess it’s okay if a close friend or family member asks, but this question should not be thrown around in everyday conversation. It may seem like an innocent question, but it reiterates the idea that marriage is a goal that everyone should reach in order to be happy.

I challenge you to take a few minutes to think deeply about what you expect in a partner. For some, this may be challenging, but I believe it is worth it. Acknowledging your needs may help you manifest your ideal relationship. I’m not sharing my expectations as I don’t want to influence yours. There are no right or wrong answers here, and it’s okay to agree with what society tells you. I’m simply challenging you to think for yourself.

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