When looking for Mrs. or Mr. Right, we all have a fantasy ideal in mind: tall, dark and handsome, a movie star body with a Pulitzer Prize winner’s brain or another variation that suits you perfectly.
There’s nothing wrong with these kinds of pedestals, either. Fantasizing about your dream mate will only help you to discover more of what you want and need in a relationship. But where do you draw the line between fantasy and reality? When do you know your relationship expectations aren’t realistic?
Your relationship expectations may be unreasonable if…
- You have specific requirements regarding your potential mate’s height, weight, and/or appearance that aren’t negotiable under any circumstances;
- You refuse to date anyone unless they make a certain amount of money;
- You won’t date someone who lives further than a quick drive away;
- Anyone without similar interests as you is out of the question; and/or
- You require a person to trust you and open up to you immediately.
Your relationship expectations are probably reasonable if…
- A spark of some sorts is required, whether it’s mental, physical or emotional;
- You want someone who finds you amusing, adorable, and/or exciting;
- You are holding out for someone whose basic views on the world are similar, but not necessarily identical to yours; and/or
- Someone with the same willingness to be in a relationship and with similar long-term dating goals, whether that’s for casual dating, cohabitation or a committed marriage.
So what are you to do if you don't know what your expectations for a relationship are - or worse - some of your expectations fall into the no-no category?
Brainstorming Your Relationship Expectations
Take a moment and brainstorm on paper for a little bit; ten or fifteen minutes should do the trick nicely. Close your eyes and picture your ideal mate: what talents, qualities, personality traits, experiences and emotional capabilities do you want him or her to have? Don't censor yourself, and let your mind wander to wherever it goes. If you're having a hard time coming up with some ideas, think about your past relationships and use their positive aspects as your starting guide.
Next, write the number one next to all of the items you wrote that you feel are essential to your happiness, and a two next to the items that would be nice, but not necessary.
Ranking Your Relationship Expectations
Take all of the items marked with the number one, and list them in your own order of importance on a seperate sheet of paper. If this is hard (and for most people it is!) write each item on a small seperate sticky note. Then, place each item in order of most important to least important on a wall or other large surface, and move the sticky notes around until you feel you've found the right combination.
Look at your top five items. These are the expectations you have for a quality relationship that you should never compromise on. Therefore, if you meet someone who you are extremely attracted to, but doesn't have all five of the items you've listed on your must-have list - it's time to move on.
Evolution is Necessary When it Comes to Relationship Expectations
Finally, realize that your relationship expectations will change and evolve over time. Don't be scared to review your list and go through this exercise after every breakup as a part of your preparations to date again, or anytime you feel your relationship needs have changed.