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Understanding the Outcome: Why Do Expectations Lead to Disappointments?

A man saddened by how expectations lead to disappointments
Expectations lead to disappointments. Learn to avoid setting unrealistic expectations in your relationship.

Have you been dissatisfied with your partner for not meeting your expectations?

As in most relationships, not everything always goes according to plan. Your anticipated happiness can turn into feelings of frustration, dissatisfaction, and disappointment.

In any case, you were likely taught that setting expectations helps strengthen a couple’s dynamics. But having encountered the opposite, you now ask,

Do all expectations lead to disappointment?

Instead of setting unrealistic expectations, here’s how you can better shape a certain outcome by looking into the following factors.

Why Expectations Hurt

Expectations can indeed strengthen your relationship. However, they can backfire based on how you set them up to be.

If you shape your expectations based on the following, then it’s no surprise why they end up hurting you in the end.

The Perfect Ideal

Fueled by societal norms, the media, and your personal desires, you may set expectations that go beyond the limits of reality.

For example, when it’s your first relationship, you might expect your partner to be as loving as the main characters in the novels you’ve read or the movies you’ve seen.

You disregard the fact that they too have their own set of flaws.

So contrary to your expected version of them, they may not be able to meet your every need, which leaves you feeling hurt.

The Need to Keep Up

On social media, you can often see posts about couples celebrating their best moments. Similarly, when gathering with friends, you often hear stories about their smooth-sailing love lives.

In turn, you may ask yourself, “Why can’t that be us?”

Based on other people’s happiness, you lead yourself to focus on what’s lacking in your relationship. As a result, you strive to implement changes within your dynamic, hoping to achieve what others have.

Then again, dwelling too much on what other couples have instead of appreciating your own best moments can quickly lead to failed expectations and disappointment.

The Demand for Control

When you expect something, you may have a specific vision of when and how things will play out.

For instance, you try to exert control over your partner or on external factors that affect your relationship.

But life’s unpredictability can make you lose your grip and face an outcome that’s far from your goal.

Due to your unmet expectations brought about by the lack of control, you may focus on what-if situations instead of learning to take advantage of your current circumstance.

As a result, feelings of frustration and dissatisfaction can overwhelm you.

A woman looking at social media comments, setting herself up for failed expectations
Avoid failed expectations. Pursue your happiness instead of trying to keep up with others’.

What Happens When You Expect Too Much from Someone

As mentioned, some expectations lead to disappointments and other negative feelings, such as hurt, frustration, and dissatisfaction.

Aside from the various tolls it can take on your emotional health, some expectations can also hurt your partner and your relationship, especially when they’ve become too much to handle.

Creates Undue Pressure on Your Partner

As mentioned, everyone has their flaws. Yet people strive to better themselves each day.

However, expecting your partner to be perfect places undue pressure on them.

Rather than improving themselves out of their own will, they’re forced to meet your unrealistic standards to try and maintain the relationship.

Moreover, they try to do so based on the pace you set up for them, which makes them feel as if they’re trying to meet a deadline.

Creates an Imbalanced Dynamic

Each person has their roles and responsibilities in a relationship.

Having high expectations of others, especially your partner, without considering their current needs and limitations creates an imbalance in your dynamics.

Instead of having a healthy give-and-take relationship, you may be shoving too many responsibilities towards them.

Or, you may be taking up too much, which may make you feel taken for granted when your partner fails to meet your expectations of helping you out.

Stagnates or Downgrades Growth in the Relationship

As mentioned, expectations can hurt you if you base them on your demand for control.

Meanwhile, in terms of its overall impact on your relationship, it’s like stepping on your partner’s autonomy and individuality. You’re preventing them from voicing their opinions and using their unique strengths to contribute to the strengthening of your dynamic.

You might think that you’re going to see progress by doing things your way. But in reality, you’re causing your relationship to either stagnate or downgrade.

Dating without Expectations vs Dating with Realistic Expectations

Some people may have told you to keep your expectations low and you’ll never be disappointed.

So you may think that lowering or having no expectations is indeed better.

However, the key to a good relationship is achieving balance.

Dating without expectations pushes you to settle for things that make you uncomfortable, which hinders you from your personal growth. Moreover, it doesn’t provide clarity on what actions are okay in your relationship and what are not, preventing you and your partner from holding each other accountable when conflict arises.

Meanwhile, setting realistic expectations helps strengthen your relationship as you both learn to communicate your needs and wants as well as empathize with each other.

It also helps you navigate through conflicts more easily as you have a realistic understanding of what can be accomplished based on your resources, constraints, as well as strengths and weaknesses.

Lastly, setting realistic expectations allows you to feel less stressed and more content with your relationship as you’re likely to achieve what you have planned.

A couple happily talking to each other
Looking into dating without expectations? Why not try setting realistic expectations instead?

How to Set Realistic Expectations

As you’ve come to realize, don’t lower your expectations. Instead, learn how to set realistic ones by doing the following.

Prioritize Needs Over Wants

Needs are those that are essential to you and your partner’s overall well-being and relationship. Meanwhile, wants are your desires that don’t necessarily negatively affect your relationship when unfulfilled.

Oftentimes, the passion you have for what you want may outweigh your needs, causing you to set your expectations based on them.

However, prioritizing them over your needs can create unhealthy obsessions that can lead to disappointments. Set realistic expectations for your relationship based on your need for love, comfort, commitment, respect, understanding, and growth.

Avoid focusing on your desire to have the perfect partner.

Be Considerate and Make Compromises

Avoid setting expectations while only looking at things from your perspective. Try to put yourself in your partner’s shoes.

Get to know the issues that your partner is facing, as well as their needs, capabilities, and goals.

Afterwards, talk to them about certain expectations you have and see if they’re willing to be on the same page as you.

If not, learn to compromise based on what matters most to both of you.

Understand that unexpected changes may happen that will challenge your expectations. In that case, try to adapt by having another conversation with your partner wherein you reassess and modify your expectations based on the situation.

Avoid Comparing and Learn to Appreciate

Failed expectations hurt when you’re obsessing over your differences with others.

Having said that, avoid comparing your relationship with others when setting expectations. Try to focus on the values that you and your partner share.

As you see other couples, it can be easy to pinpoint what’s lacking in your relationship. But don’t forget to appreciate what’s unique in your own relationship.

Also, remember that not every couple you see or hear about is living a conflict-free life. Like you, they also have their ups and downs.

A couple who looks satisfied with their relationship.
Achieve relationship satisfaction. Learn to compromise instead of trying to lower your expectations.

Unrealistic Expectations Lead to Disappointments. Keep Yourself Grounded in Reality.

Expectations lead to disappointments when they’re not grounded in reality.

It’s not about settling for less or having no expectations at all. Rather, it’s about identifying and aligning your actions towards what’s achievable.

Strive to create expectations that allow your relationship to grow by staying grounded in your present situation, needs, and capabilities.

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