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Communicating Expectations in Relationships

Updated: May 30, 2023

Written by Evi Idoghor


If you grew up in the 90s, you probably share my fondness for sitcoms, which enjoyed an explosive rise in popularity at the time. Friends, Fresh Prince of Bel Air, The Nanny, amongst others were some of my favorites. As a young adolescent, I remember looking forward to the time of day when my mom would turn on the generator just so I could watch an episode of The Nanny which came on in the afternoons on a local TV station; Fran's wit and eccentric sense of style always fascinated me.

If you are a child of the '90s, you probably share my abiding love for sitcoms, which experienced a meteoric rise in popularity at the time. As a young adolescent, I recall eagerly awaiting the time of day when the generator in our home would turn on so that I could watch an episode of The Nanny; Fran's wit and eccentric sense of style always fascinated me. Thanks to Netflix, I can rewatch some of my favorite old shows, like Seinfeld, Frasier, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and Friends.
Why You Should Communicate Expectations early in Relationships

My love for sitcoms (as with documentaries) has not waned after all these years. I remember watching an episode of Friends when the free-spirited Phoebe finally found a reasonable man who was interested in a committed relationship with her; his name was Mike. They were so close that they eventually swapped house keys, giving each other unrestricted access.


She thought she'd found the one she'd spend the rest of her life with; however, her world was turned upside down when Mike told her he wasn't interested in the marriage institution. If you watched the show, you'd think it would be the other way around, but Phoebe surprised the audience with her incessant desire to marry. As a result of Mike's revelation, they were on the verge of breaking up (even if they loved each other) due to their opposing views on what a committed relationship should look like.

 

Most people today can identify with being in a similar situation. Somewhere along the line, as in Phoebe and Mike's case, one partner discovers that the other does not want children, does not want to work, or does not want to marry at all. So, how does one avoid having to deal with such a situation? I believe the answer is simple: communicate your relationship expectations early on.


Out of the many issues that can arise in a relationship, is one which has to do with unmet expectations. Even before two people meet, they both have an idea about what they want out of a relationship. As with any relationship, while having clear expectations and standards are important, communication must be established quickly so that both parties are aware of what they are getting themselves into.


Consider this: when you are in the process of applying for a job, you discover that the company publicizes the job description so you can see exactly what they're looking for. Now, if you get an interview, they will often ask you a variety of questions to get to know you and explore the specifics of what they expect from you. Depending on how good they are, they provide you with room to ask questions for clarification purposes. So, when you get the job, you both already know what you are getting yourselves into (well, to a large extent).


Many people are 'getting to know each other,' but without communication. Despite spending so much time together, they know very little about each other. They let the butterflies fluttering around their stomachs carry them away (with their heads in the clouds), while they fail to do their homework. How else can you know what's on someone's mind if you don't talk to them or spend time asking the right questions? What's more, how can they know what's on your mind, if you don’t communicate it?


From experience, ‘fear’ is a major reason why women do not ask pertinent questions when they meet and begin dating someone. They are frequently concerned that if they challenge a potential partner on some of their ideologies, the person may lose interest in them.


You shouldn't desire to be with someone if by just asking them questions or being naturally curious causes them to back-pedal. In fact, questioning someone is a method of separating the wheat from the chaff. Taking a firm stance and communicating your relationship expectations are two critical steps in laying a solid foundation for your blossoming romance.


In contrast, if you leave things to chance, over time, you'll have to put in more effort to communicate and establish what you want in your relationship which may feel like trying to cut through something tough with a blunt knife. As such, you should take the time to ask the right questions and communicate your expectations (early on). For example, inquire about their work ethic and the milestones they hope to achieve. If you are the type of woman who believes that her husband should handle all financial matters in the home, please let that man know before committing to a relationship with him. Just as you don't want any surprises, he shouldn't be surprised by your mindset.


Finally, when some Christians (myself inclusive) believe they’ve have found the "one," they tend to put God on the back burner while they ride off into the sunset (with their lover) without seeking his guidance. It is important to note that no matter the amount of right questions you ask, how clearly you lay out your expectations, or how thoroughly you research a potential partner, only God has the ability to truly reveal a person's heart. So, while you do your due diligence, be patient enough to pray for guidance.


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Images used in this article are courtesy of Unsplash


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