Have you wondered about whether your expectations of the relationship are too high? Or maybe too low? Gone are the days of previous generations when roles of partners were clearly defined with rigid expectations. Today we enjoy the equality standards despite the fact that there still are many people and locations where the old norms survive. I want to touch on how our expectations, along with the loosening of roles, have undergone changes that at times make it more difficult to maintain the relationship.

So, when you meet someone who lights your fire, one of the important elements of a connection is met: The chemistry. There are those who may bypass this and find someone they find compatible mostly on rational grounds – our values are in sync, our goals are similar, it’s time I need a partner, and so on.

There is in fact evidence that those kind of couples have long-lasting connections, somewhat like arranged marriages in other cultures. That is because our expectations play a huge role in how we perceive interactions, how we interpret them towards positive or negative outcomes.

One of the classic cognitive errors we make is the “If you loved me, you would’ve…” thought. Although over time, we may know what our beloved wants, it is open to guessing and mind-reading. Loving someone does not necessarily lead to knowing where their head is. This is where I get back to expectations and how they shape our behavior.

If you expect that this person will meet all of your emotional needs, you are going to be disappointed for sure. We are now mostly passed the point of engaging with a partner solely for financial or social reasons. That used to be the older standard. We now focus on the emotional needs. Although we may logically know that a single person will not meet all of our wants, we still may look for that. So, what about decreasing those expectations? What if you also had friends with whom you share emotional intimacy because the love of your life finds it hard to verbalize feelings? Friends with whom you socialize because the partner prefers solitude more than you do? You want to go kayaking; he/she likes to climb rocks and will not get in the water?

The key to keeping a healthy relationship without forming separate lanes in which you travel is to be able to keep a joint lane as well. Otherwise, you would be leading different lives altogether. In addition, not to be judgmental that what the other likes or does not like to do is to be scorned at. It is truly not easy to have a happy relationship when we have so many demands on our time and attention and at a fast pace. But it is possible when you can form a “relationship” frame of mind, whether it is two or more of you. It just takes a lot of work. Just remember: The ROI is phenomenal!

Happy trails to all!

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Janan Broadbent, PhD
Janan Broadbent, PhD
As a psychologist in private practice since 1979, Janan Broadbent, Ph. D. offers individual, couples, group and family therapy, in addition to conducting workshops on topics such as stress management, communication skills and assertiveness. She writes about current issues relevant to relationship building and conflict resolution in LGBTQ and minority populations, with emphasis on health, fitness and education.

Born in Turkey, Dr. Broadbent earned her undergraduate degree in psychology in 1965. At that time, first as a Fulbright Scholar, then as a CENTO Fellow, she received her master's and doctorate degrees in psychology and education from the University of California at Los Angeles. She has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in psychology at St.Mary's College of Maryland, Mt. Vernon College in Washington, D. C., Johns Hopkins University and the College of Notre Dame in Baltimore. From 1981 to 1988, she was also the Director of Counseling at Notre Dame College.
While in graduate school, Dr. Broadbent worked for the Voice of America radio program, writing and recording materials on the cross-cultural college experience. She has been interviewed on various news programs on TV and has received media training.
Dr. Broadbent is a member of the American Psychological Association and has served as the chair for the Public Affairs Board and as a member of the Executive Council of the Maryland Psychological Association.
Dr. Broadbent's office is located at:
Village of Cross Keys, 120 West Quadrangle, 2 Hamill Road, Baltimore, Maryland 21210-1847 phone: 410-825-5577
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