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Why Relationship Expectations?

A number of years ago I heard an anthropologist point out that the modern Western view of “spouse” includes roles that could be played by up to 5 or 6 different people in some other cultures. We tend to “put all of our eggs in one basket” in the way we are so dependent on one person for so many of our relationship wants and needs.

This mingled with my study of Buddhist psychology, which stresses that one of the main sources of dissatisfaction over which we have control is our attachment to our expectations. When you expect something and it doesn’t happen or you don’t get it, you feel disappointed and dissatisfied. You often don’t have control over the happenings of the external world, but you always have the potential for letting go of expectations that make you unhappy.

I developed this quiz/tool to encourage people to examine the expectations they have about their relationships and partners. My hope is that doing so will help people recognize ways in which their expectations may be setting them up for disappointment – not because their partner is a terrible partner, but because their partner is not Superman or Superwoman – or Prince(ss) Charming.

Once you have examined your expectations, the tool lets you and your partner compare your relationship expectations priorities. I hope this will be the starting point for discussing your individual expectations and the desires and values that those expectations reflect. Once you know what is important to each other you can work more effectively on building a relationship that works for both of you.

I don’t think this quiz predicts compatibility, but I do believe that having a discussion about your expectations before making a serious commitment can show areas where you will have to put extra attention in order to make the relationship work for both of you. Knowing that your partner has high expectations about aspects of the relationship that you don’t prioritize, or vice versa, means that you won’t feel betrayed finding out about those differences months or years down the road, and that you both know what expectations you may need to satisfy with friends, family, or community outside the relationship.