What to expect in a relationship. I don’t know about you but growing up in my household as a young girl wasn’t as informative as I would have liked it to be. Subjects about love, sex and marriage were definitely not topics to be discussed. My parents were busy making sure we had the basic necessities in life like food, shelter, clothing, and education. They didn’t understand that teaching us about relationships and what to expect in them would help us understand and learn how to be in appropriate and healthy ones. As a Couples Counselor and mother of two daughters it is normal in our home to talk about relationships and what a healthy relationship looks like.
Of course it’s a given under no circumstance should there be any kind of abusive behavior. Some individuals due to their personal issues of low self-esteem or co-dependency may not know what that may look like and normalize it into their relationship for fear of not wanting to be alone, trying too hard to make the relationship successful, or whatever unhealthy rationalization they hold onto to stay in a bad situation. As we’re in the 21st Century of high technology texting is huge and some people expect a return of their text right away or suffer the consequences. Or spending every free moment with each other. With unrealistic expectations relationships are doomed from the start.
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In Couples Counseling I make aware what to know what a good relationship should start with and include these basic expectations:
Your partner may express this either in words, behavior, or both. Physical affection, such as hugging, kissing, back or foot rubs, or holding hands is especially important in romantic relationships. Your partner should like you as a person, and be able to demonstrate that in a way that you understand.
When you’re hurting, you have a right to expect your partner to be, in the words of Dr. Phil, “a soft place to fall.” He or she should be tender with you if you’re in pain. A partner’s not obligated to read your mind. They don’t have to feel the same way you do. Showing Empathy is important so they know you can imagine feeling what they feel.
A good partner shows respect for you as a person. Although he or she may disagree with you, there’s no name-calling or ridicule from a respectful partner, even in the name of “just teasing.” A respectful partner knows and admires your strengths, is gracious about your weaknesses and doesn’t willfully engage in boundary violations.
A considerate partner thinks about how his or her behavior affects you. They don’t have to give you everything you ask for, or do everything you want them to do, but they owe you the courtesy of considering things from your point of view.
Every relationship is based on sharing at least some time together. It can’t always be helped if your partner has to be away. But if he or she rarely or never has time for you, or consistently rations the time you spend together, you might ask yourself how much more of your own time you’re willing to spend pursuing them.
It’s reasonable to expect your partner to have a greater interest in you than the average person. At least some of your activities, opinions, thoughts, feelings, etc. should hold his or her interest. A partner who isn’t interested in you as a person may be in the relationship just to avoid being alone.
Intimacy is not the same as sex. It means allowing yourself to be known, and wanting to really know your partner. More than just “Are you a morning person or a night person?” genuine intimacy is being familiar with each other’s emotional, vulnerable selves.
A truly generous partner enjoys helping, soothing, or finding other ways to benefit you. Such a partner doesn’t necessarily give you material gifts or take you on fancy vacations. Giving oneself fully in a relationship is the ultimate gift.
As a Couples Counselor I help Individuals understand they have the right to expect these things. When you aren’t getting the basics it’s appropriate to ask for them, and that it’s okay for it to matter to you if they’re not available from your partner. Respect yourself enough to want to be in a relationship that includes these basic expectations. That way you don’t settle for anybody just so you can have somebody.
For more information on what healthy relationships look like please contact me at (858) 735-1139.