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Defining expectations

A key component to communication is defining expectations. In any relationship, if the opposing party doesn’t know how much you value a certain standard, they’re likely to cross boundaries if you haven’t conveyed that to them.

Defining expectations


What do you expect from your significant other? Love, compassion, care, and a forgiving heart? Or materialism, lies, deceit, and malice? Whether or not it’s long term, I’d venture to say most people would suggest the former as a recipe for success. You see, these descriptions of expectations are primarily the foundation of any relationship. Do you know when one or both people tend to get hurt in a relationship? When their expectations aren’t met. But before we dive any deeper, it’s important to note, equally vital to any sustainable relationship is the conveyance of said expectations.

Has your Mom or Dad ever gotten mad at you because they supposedly asked you to do something, and you didn’t do it? Only for them to realize, they never asked you and just thought they did. Yeah, same here. Well, the truth is, how can you be mad at someone for your lack of defining expectations set before them? You can’t. In any relationship, there are boundaries. Typically, as time goes on, those boundaries become less clear, walls come down, and you can be your true, unabashed self with them. This is beautiful, but as those boundaries become less transparent, it’s critical to keep the other person in your relationship informed on what standards you still may or may not have.


Standards are standards for a reason. We all have some in one way or another. It’s like setting the table before the meal comes. It’s why people put up walls when they first enter into a relationship because they have no idea what the opposing person’s intentions are. They’ve subsequently set expectations in their mind, even if they don’t verbalize them. While it’s imperative to set standards, it’s also crucial to express them. The last thing you want is for your relationship not to flourish because you didn’t explain a boundary to your significant other, and they cross it.

Usually, this occurs in most relationships at what point or another. No relationship is perfect, and boundaries will be crossed eventually, but it’s vital to learn from the mistake of not defining expectations. You can’t be angry with someone for doing something you expect them not to do if you never make those expectations known. Of course, there are simple things we can all distinguish from right and wrong, but you never want to compromise your morals, values, and ethics. Most of us have drastically different upbringings, and what could come with that for your significant other are a set of expectations very opposite from yours.


Every relationship requires compassion, and it’s not something that can be substituted. It’s not a want but a need. Without it, your relationship, friendship, or acquaintanceship will never thrive. This means when your friend chooses to be vulnerable and explains why they didn’t do something you expected of them, you’re compassionate towards them. Instead of putting them down, go through every step. Firstly, check yourself. Did you thoroughly and adequately define your expectations of the friendship? If the answer is no, communicate that and discuss it further.


If it’s yes, where did they go wrong? Did they misinterpret your expectations? If so, explain them again, but this time consider their background and the most productive way for them to understand what you’re trying to convey. Is it through spoken word, or do they learn better by visualizing? You’re not the same as everyone else, and everyone else is not the same as you. If you’re having trouble defining expectations in a friendship, be patient, compassionate, think outside the box, yet, remain vigilant. Because you also don’t want to find yourself in a position where someone takes your kindness for weakness and thinks they can walk all over you.

Suppose you continually define your expectations in a relationship, and the person on the receiving end doesn’t care enough to respect them. In that case, you have your answer of how much they value you moving forward. Because you won’t always matter enough to people for them to create a level of respect and care for your expectations, and that’s okay. But you don’t want to surround yourself with those types of people because they will let you down and have you questioning yourself and other factors when in all actuality, they’re the problem.

It’s not that you can’t tweak your expectations, either, because it’s essential in any healthy relationship for both parties to meet each other halfway. But you never want to lose yourself and who you are. A relationship is at its best when both people are entirely themselves individually and together. Ultimately, you want to define expectations when there is any level of companionship between you and someone else. In doing so, you bridge the divide between impressionistic and authentic. Speak with clarity, and define what you expect in all your relations because if you do, they will contain the ingredients necessary to flourish.

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