Eli Finkel, a US university professor specializing in social psychology reckons there’s a very common reason modern relationships fail—and it’s all about our expectations. In an interview with The Atlantic about his new book The All-or-Nothing Marriage, Finkel explained he considers many people in relationships too idealistic.
Basically, rather than just being content that our partner provides us with a spare pair of hands to sort out the home and go about our daily lives, we’re expecting them to be everything to us.
We are, he reckons, demanding WAY too much of them. A lot of modern couples expect their significant other to love them because, duh, but also to “help them grow” and become our best selves. We want them to make us feel attractive, smart, hilarious, sexy, basically all the things all the time. And this, he says, is putting so much pressure on our relationships that we are totally screwing them up.
Why though? Finkel says in the past 100 years, marriage and relationship expectations have blurred due to cultural changes.
In his The Atlantic interview, he said:
“I would just urge everybody, think about what you’re looking for from this one relationship and decide, are these expectations realistic in light of who I am, who my partner is, [and]what the dynamics that we have together are? If so, how are we going to achieve all of these things together? Or alternatively, how can we relinquish some of these roles that we play in each others’ lives, and outsource them to, say, another member of your social network?”
What he’s saying is, in order to not overload your partner with expectations, you probs could maybe go to a pal or family member for the assurances your partner can’t give you. And that’s totally fine.
“The question isn’t, ‘Are you asking too much?’ The question is, ‘Are you asking the appropriate amount, in light of the nature of the relationship right now? ‘The idea of ‘going all-in’ is, ‘Hell yes. I want to ask my spouse to help make me feel loved and give me an opportunity to love somebody else and also [be]somebody who’s going to help me grow into an ideal, authentic version of myself. And I’m going to do the same for him or her. I recognize that that is a massive ask, and because I recognize that that’s a massive ask I’m going to make sure that we have sufficient time together. That when we’re together we’re paying sufficient attention to each other, that the time that we’re investing in the relationship is well-spent.'”
So if Finkel’s theory is true, we need to accept most of our expectations are a tad too much. In order to avoid constant disappointment and inevitably, the end of our relationship, we need to not pile too much pressure on that one person.