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February 26, 2016

How To Know If You Are Expecting Too Much From a Partner

# 1. Follow the below advice

Dr.-Randi-Gunther

Many relationship seekers enter new encounters promising that they are people who have much to offer and need very little. The reasons are totally logical. If one is going to try to get the best possible outcome, it makes the most sense to put out a valuable and attractive personal profile. Those dating contenders that come across as already fulfilled consistently do bring in the best responses.

Unfortunately, everyone has needs that are eventually going to emerge. Everyone has desires and even expectations of what they need to feel loved and to continue giving. As any intimate relationship matures, those previously hidden requirements are going to emerge and both partners will have to explain why they are now present and negotiate to have them met.

Because everyone does this overly-positive initial presentation, most people expect some of these hidden desires to emerge as the relationship establishes a stronger foundation. They may have not mastered the best way to start being more authentic with each other, but they can sometimes work it out if there is enough excitement and hopeful energy as a resource.

There are times, though, when that process gets derailed. Because those emerging wants are either not what the other partner expected nor has the desire or capability to fulfill, one or both partners feels angry, over-sold, or inadequate. When that happens, and the relationship ends, he or she often feels confused and wounded, not knowing why things didn’t go as they hoped they might.

It is important for all relationship-seekers to understand what they might have done that contributed to that eventual failure. If they know who they are and what they need to continue loving and giving before they begin any new relationship, they will have a better chance of seeing those positive or negative outcomes sooner. And, because many behaviors may be unconscious patterns or previously unchallenged behaviors, they may actually be able to help each other change in ways that can make the relationship salvageable.

Knowing Your Own Requirements

The painful feelings that accompany failed relationships are rarely experiences that people want to relive. Unfortunately, because of the need to erase painful memories, many people also erase the important lessons those relationships may have provided. Most people, often without realizing it, seek out very similar kinds of partners and repeat relationship interactive patterns, even when they have not worked in the past. It’s not that they want to fail again, but are just not aware of what they are doing wrong. Familiarity is seductive and comforting, especially at the beginning of a relationship when lust and passion may hide many underlying, potential problems.

And, as I stated above, people seeking partners put their best feet forward, repeating the early behaviors that initially seemed to work. They may even hide their deeper needs from themselves because they were taught at some time in their lives to devalue them, or perhaps partners in the past have appeared to find them burdensome. Past failures can even make people try to deny their needs by pretending they don’t exist.

All needs are legitimate. All desires are as well. And all relationships are negotiations that weigh whether one person’s needs are able to be fulfilled by the other partner and vice versa, or whether the good parts of the relationship can provide enough nourishment to make unfulfilled needs less important over time.

Before you start any relationship, you should ideally know what you need to keep on loving someone, what you can easily and automatically offer to another, and what you are willing and able to negotiate if those interactions are not easy. Just because the early moments of a relationship are mesmerizing and magical, that doesn’t mean you won’t eventually want more as the natural lessening of lust and passion subsides.

The best way to know that is to look at your past relationships after they ended and ask yourself what eventually disappointed you or your partner and why the relationship no longer provided either of you with what you needed. Fantasize putting every partner you’ve ever really cared for in a room and ask them to authentically tell you what there was about you that they were initially attracted to and what they found out about you later that made them pull away. Don’t do that to feel badly, but to really courageously face what might be similar so that you can changes those behaviors.

The Difference between Desires, Expectations and Entitlements

This is probably an equally important factor. A desire is an invitation to your partner to please you if he or she wants to, or can. It is a way one person allows another to make “love points,” that will be reciprocal at some other time.

An expectation, on the other hand, is the way you feel any partner “should” treat you for whatever reasons you may have been taught is part of a love relationship. You will also have thought about what any partner should reasonable expect from you as the price of any intimate relationship. These expectations are often unconscious but nevertheless innate. Your partner will also have his or her own set of behaviors that feel like they should be automatic behaviors.

It is, of course, a basic requirement of any relationship that people not only know what their expectations are, but can easily and honestly express them to a partner, preferably as early as possible in a relationship. It is unfair to both partners to have those either unknown or sprung upon them later as ways they have disappointed or disillusioned the other.

Entitlements are never part of a great intimate relationship. Feeling like something is “owed” because a person deserves it does not give the other partner any choice but to submit to that requirement, avoid it, or challenge it. Unless you are a child, love is not a right; it is a continually earned experience. People in good relationships that deepen over time are never unaware of that process.

If you have been taught that you have a right to entitled behaviors from your partner, make certain that your partner knows about them. If he or she finds you delightful and valuable enough, that partner might actually delight in seeing your inner child that happy. But, always remember that there is no such thing as an automatic one-way indulgence in any relationship that lasts. That partner will most likely have his or her own set of entitled behaviors from you.

Dr. Randi Gunther – www.randigunther.com

# 2. Follow the 3 tips below

Amanda-Patterson

From time to time, in relationships, women wonder if they are being too needy. This word needy has really gotten a bad wrap. Women are worried if they are being too needy, while men are worried women will become too needy. What ends up happening is that women begin to overthink their behavior. You will need a process that will help guide whether or not you are being “too needy”.

1. Gather information from trusted people

a. Reach out to your tribe of trust people and ask them. Share some stories about what is happening in your relationship and ask for feedback. A therapist will be able to help guide you and provide you with direct feedback about your behavior.

2. Talk to your partner about it

a. It is perfectly normal to check in with your partner about your behavior. Ask light and breezy questions to gauge how things are going in the relationship. Listen to his feedback and take it in. Be prepared that he might share that you are needy. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. We all have needs and he may be the person who can help fulfill your needs.

3. Look to your childhood to unmet needs

a. Our childhood wounds often drive our needy behavior. Look for loss, abandonment and chaos in your childhood as clues to how you might be showing up in your relationship. If you have abandonment issues from childhood, work on them so you can fill those voids.

I’ve written this before and I’ll say this again, everyone is needy, we all just have different needs. Some people have a great need for independence and some people have a high need for a lot of time together. It’s best to find a partner who can meet your needs; however if you have unresolved childhood issues it’s important to deal with that before you start expecting your partner to fill you up.

Amanda Patterson, LMHC – www.amandapattersonlmhc.com

# 3. Talk to your guy, especially about what you expect from him and then you’ll know if he’s willing or able to fulfill your wishes

Amy Sherman

Expectations should be a “dirty word”. This is because our expectations usually get us in trouble. Let me explain.

Expectations stem from thoughts about what you want to happen, based on your values, beliefs, past history and motivation. Your partner, who should’ve bought you flowers on your birthday or didn’t call you when you were sick, has disappointed you because he didn’t do what you expected. With that disappointment, you may become nasty, sarcastic, angry or feel a host of other negative feelings that are related to this incident. Your expectations were not fulfilled. Does your partner know why you are annoyed with him? Have you told him?

Maybe not. So, does this mean you’re expecting too much from your boyfriend? The answer depends on whether or not you discussed what you want, what you like and what you prefer with him. If he knows how important flowers are for your birthday and he still continues to ignore what you like, then you have reason to be disappointed or even mad. He’s not giving his all to the relationship and may even be a little too stubborn. After all, your relationship is about giving as well as taking. Each of you should be made to feel special.

The problem is that most women do not express their true feelings to their partner, maybe because they don’t want to lose their guy or rock the boat. But don’t you want a relationship where you feel comfortable discussing everything? Don’t you want to be who you are and not compromise your integrity or your sense of self?

The bottom line is this – talk to your guy, especially about what you expect from him and then you’ll know if he’s willing or able to fulfill your wishes. Share the things that are really important and meaningful to you – and let him do the same. Your open and honest relationship is definitely what will keep you together and blossoming into the healthy relationship you deserve.

Amy Sherman, M.A., LMHC – www.yourbabyboomersnetwork.com

# 4. It becomes unhealthy when we expect him to provide for our every need or be responsible for our complete happiness

Ileana Hinojosa

We are often disappointed by others because of their inability to meet our expectations while not understanding that what we are expecting is unrealistic. In other words, we do not often see how we expect others to meet our needs in ways that are unhealthy. Our worldview and cultural background can shape how we view others and what we expect of them. In some families, the man is the boss and whatever he says goes. In these families where the mother only had power through manipulation and emotional guilt, women learn that it is okay to impose their will on their partners in this way. Unhealthy dynamics can be learned from our parents and the patterns developed and established in previous unhealthy relationships. Men also learn that it is okay to emotionally shut out their partners. This tension can escalate and we start to expect more than the other person is willing or able to do.

Does he understand your needs?

Are you articulating what you need in a healthy way and in a way that he can understand what you are asking for? Are you expecting him to be responsible for your happiness and inner well-being? Be mindful of enmeshment and the all consuming codependent relationship. The relationship should not be more important than your need to care for yourself. Be aware of the unhealthy need for constant validation. He cannot read your mind and he should not assume to know what you need if you do not tell him directly. Do not be subtle but direct and polite. Use language that he can understand. Be clear and direct. Do not hint at what you want and expect him to get it.

When we are attached to the outcome of the relationship, we can develop a certain idea of what a relationship should look like. It is okay to have expectations regarding respect, trust, honesty and mutually healthy characteristics. It becomes unhealthy when we expect him to provide for our every need or be responsible for our complete happiness. Do you have unhealthy patterns in your life within friendships and relationships? Do you impose your will on others by expecting them to do things that you want them to do and on your timeline? Are you controlling and are their consequences if he does not do what you want him to do? Are you able to discern when you or he is being codependent?

Is this a pattern in your life?

Ask yourself some of the above questions. Evaluate if this is an area in your life that you might need to work on. Be mindful that you are not being codependent and take responsibility for only what is yours. Set your boundaries and clearly communicate your needs and expectations. Determine if he is making the effort and or able to meet your needs. Then make a decision. Being clingy or controlling won´t make him any more capable of meeting your expectations if they are unhealthy and unrealistic. Likewise, if you have healthy expectations and he just can´t meet your needs, then it may be time to move on. Above all, don’t compromise or settle because you think he will change.

Ileana Hinojosa, MLA, LMFT – www.themindfullife.net

# 5. A relationship is a place to share yourself, not create yourself

Sally LeBoy

We all go into relationships with certain hopes and expectations. If we didn’t want that loving connection, we’d probably stay single. The challenge is balancing your responsibility to take care of yourself with your expectations of the relationship. Relationships automatically create a certain degree of pressure. That’s just the nature of two people working at sharing their life. Appropriate needs actually lead to relationship growth and greater intimacy. But too much need puts burdens on the relationship that could lead to its demise.

So what is too much need? In general, when you turn over your self-definition to your partner, you run the risk of hurting the relationship. When you expect that being in a relationship will solve your problems and you stop taking care of yourself, you put undue stress on the relationship dynamic. This becomes a downward spiral. The more demands you put on the relationship, the more disappointment you will feel when those unrealistic needs don’t get met. Rather than taking more personal responsibility, you will probably increase your demands in the hope that your partner will finally respond. You can imagine the feelings of anger and fear that both partners are likely to experience as the pressure mounts and the needs don’t get met.

Being in a relationship will never be the answer to your problems and insecurities. A relationship is a place to share yourself, not create yourself. It isn’t your partner’s job to make you happy, nor is it yours to take care of him. When two mature functional people decide to share their life, the relationship as well as personal growth are likely to flourish. Both partners bring their strengths to the relationship rather than their problems. The less needy the partners, the healthier the relationship. This doesn’t mean that you can’t expect to feel loved and supported. That feeling of connection is what makes the work of a relationship worthwhile. Just don’t confuse neediness with caring. People can be intimate without abdicating their personal responsibilities. Being taken care of isn’t the same thing as being loved.

Sally LeBoy, MFT – www.sallyleboymft.com

# 6. Follow the 3 tips below

Deborah-Cox

“Too much” means something different for everybody. But by considering these three tiers of expectation, you can distinguish between “must-haves” and goals you can work toward gradually in your relationship. By separating these tiers, you may actually make yourself a more understanding partner and prepare for a future of mutual growth.

1. What are your deal-breakers?

Your absolute, bottom-line boundaries deserve to be spoken and respected. These include things like fidelity, honesty, and safety (physical). If your partner’s truth-telling is central to your trust (as it is with most of us), be clear about that. If you need your partner to be physically sensitive and avoid certain kinds of touch (for reasons of past trauma), be clear about that.

2. What are your desires?

You probably want things like regular conversation about feelings, regular affection, and regular sex. However, when you and your partner have to be apart for a few weeks, you know how to cope. Most of us request some basic elements, but can also live without them for short periods of time when required.

3. What hidden love themes come from your parents?

Did your mom expect your dad to always be the one to apologize? Did he expect her to look perfect all the time? We learn our expectations from close observation of our parents or other adult caregivers, and we absorb their pain and dissatisfaction. As adults, we transfer longing and expectation directly into our own relationships – without fully realizing where they come from.

Consider this list of possible hidden love themes:

• My partner should always want to be with me, as evidenced by her/him calling me several times a day.
• My partner should defer his/her own plans with friends if I need time with him/her.
• My partner should always be willing to talk about conflicts or disagreements.
• My partner should agree with me on major issues, such as religion, politics, lifestyle choices (e.g., what kind of home to buy), ways to handle our parents, ways to parent, and how to balance workloads.
• My partner should be able to overlook my deficiencies and always be pleased with me.
• My partner shouldn’t confront me or ask me to change myself.
• My partner should tell me everything.
• My partner shouldn’t have sexual feelings for anyone else, ever.
• My partner should move toward commitments (i.e., marriage, children) on the same schedule as me.
• My partner should always feel attracted to me and in love with me.

These sound like ideals to some, but to others, they sound suffocating and unrealistic. In reality, most of them ARE unrealistic. Yet, these are some biggies that couples bring to therapy, hoping their therapist will fix or produce in their mate. If you can talk about these things with your partner, be willing to look into your childhood for themes from your parents, and keep an open mind, your expectations can become fluid, workable, and easier to understand…..for both of you.

Dr. Deborah Cox – www.deborahlcox.com

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