Setting realistic relationship expectations

In this article, I will explain why setting realistic relationship expectations is important for a healthy relationship. I will talk about how romantic movies and social media set unrealistic expectations in relationship and what are the healthy expectations any relationship should have.

Social media and romantic movies influence the way people perceive relationships. People post their happy moments on social media, portraying a perfect relationship with no issues or problems. Moreover, the happily ever after found in all romantic movies is just an illusion.

The ideal portrayed relationship is one in which both partners share the same hobbies, dreams or interests. However, this expectation is unrealistic and can negatively influence your relationship.

Over time, people have created an unhealthy picture of how relationships should go. As a consequence, we force each other to do things we don’t really like and engage in activities we don’t desire to engage in.

No relationship is perfect and all relationships require work, understanding and two people willing to grow together.

The world has more relationships, but less love; more sex, but less intimacy. People enter in relationships with no clear goal in their mind.

Moreover, those who have goals for their relationships, they have superficial and sometimes unrealistic goals.


Unrealistic expectations from social media

“Social media is training us to compare our lives, instead of appreciating everything we are. No wonder why everyone is depressed.”- Bill Murray

We live in a world where we measure ourselves from how many followers we have or how many likes we get. We share our love and relationship with other people, without realising that we might create insecurity in our relationship.

Whilst scrolling through your social media platform, you come across millions of perfect couples, who are traveling to the best places, go to the best restaurants, are always happy together and they always seem to do something new and exciting.

What you see on social media is not always what it seems. You never really know what is going on behind scenes.

Social media can also be a huge contributor to jealousy. A lot of couples are having arguments because of likes, comments or new friends their partner has on social media.

Don’t allow social media to be a guideline for your relationship by creating false expectations!

Unrealistic expectations from romantic movies

”I had these kind of unrealistic expectations that were fuelled by romantic comedies, and it has both helped me and hurt me in many ways. It helped me because, in general, they’ve made me hopeful. I just figure things will eventually work out for me. But nobody is like any Tom Hanks character. Nobody is Hugh Grant. No one is Meg Ryan!”- Mindy Kaling

  • Love at first sight. In almost all romantic movies, the idea of love at first sight is present. It is important to recognise the difference between love and lust. The first stage of any relationship is infatuation (being in love). However, love takes time to grow and develop. Read more about the stages of love here.
  • Real love must be proven through grand romantic gestures. Grand gestures in movies make the love story exciting and give more power to it. However, real love is about showing your partner through little gestures that you love them and making a conscious effort to make your partner feel loved and appreciated every day.
  • You will find someone who completes you. Finding someone who completes you is not realistic. You need to be a complete person, with your own dreams, hobbies and interests. Find someone with whom you can share your beautiful life and grow your relationship together. Be with someone who complements you, not completes you.
  • Once you are in a relationship, everything is perfect. In romantic movies, all the problems the protagonists face are before they enter a relationship. The idea of happily ever after is unrealistic and, in real life, it is usually the other way around. Once you are in a relationship, you need to face real life problems together, overcome them and constantly invest in your relationship.


Why we should expect less from love

”The compatibility of a couple and the quality of a relationship lies in the way they handle their arguments and differences.” – Nishan Panwar

Two people cannot realistically match each other across all areas in life. In a realistic relationship, partners have areas where they meet each other’s needs, but also areas that should be persuaded on their own.

It is important to recognise that a degree of independence is not an attack on your partner. Moreover, doing things without your partner, like going shopping, seeing your friends or take a class you are interested in, it is healthy and absolutely normal in a relationship.

The strongest couples are those who accept each other differences and interpret them in non-dramatic and non-disloyal terms. They focus on what the other person can bring to the relationship and they don’t blame each other for being different.

In order to fully enjoy your relationship, you need to have other sources of excitement, stimulation and reassurance. When you stop believing that only a relationship can save you and start working on yourself, you are giving the relationship a better chance of survival and fulfilment. Read more about how important self-confidence is in relationships here.

realistic relationship expectations


Healthy expectations in relationships

”We have to recognise that there cannot be relationships unless there is commitment, unless there is loyalty, unless there is love, patience, persistence.” – Cornel West

In healthy relationships, couples still have expectations from their partner and their relationship. These expectations are not unrealistic or fictional, but the foundation of any healthy relationship. The healthy, realistic expectations that any couple should have are the following:

  • Trust is the building block of all relationships. We need to truly trust a person in order to be able to fully open up to them. Although trust does not diminish the value of love, trust is more important in a relationship than love is. If you enter a relationship without trust, it is bound to fail when you’ll encounter hard times.
  • Respect is one of the foundations of any relationship. To have a healthy relationship, mutual respect is crucial. When you respect your partner, you treat them fairly and you make them feel safe, accepted, trusted and valued.
  • Love is the most profound and powerful emotion. Without intimacy and affection, the relationship loses its purpose. In a healthy relationship, giving and receiving affection and love is essential.
  • Supporting each other when you need it the most is one of the most important gifts you can give one another. Standing by your partner’s side when they need you, listening to them and showing understanding can make a huge difference in their life.
  • Understanding your partner feelings, emotions and desires is extremely important in a relationship. Lack of understanding can create misunderstandings and conflict in your relationship, sometimes resulting in ending the relationship.


Final thoughts

I hope this article helped you recognise the difference between realistic and unrealistic relationship expectations and taught you how to set realistic expectation in your relationship.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave them below and I will be more than happy to answer them.

All the best,


  (Accredited Counsellors, Coaches, Psychotherapists and Hypnotherapists)

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12 thoughts on “Setting realistic relationship expectations”

  1. Great article on setting realistic relationship expectations! I think people do set unrealistic expectations without even realizing it. I found this article to be very helpful for me in my current relationship and I will work on using the tips. Thank you for sharing.

    • Hi Alyse,

      Thank you for your comment. I am happy to see that you found my article helpful for your current relationship and you will be usinng the information regarding setting realistic expectations.

      Kind regards,

  2. Interesting article Ioana.

    Reading this made me reflect on my own relationships in the past. To be honest when I was younger I always had unrealistic expectations in relationships as a result of being a sucker for romantic movies 🙂 I always envisioned having my bed laid with roses and going out on long romantic trips however, after having my first child, my whole world changed! Life became more than just romantic wishes and my focus was on caring for my daughter and working to save for her future.

    Your article highlights the reality of simply having healthy and realistic expectations where relationships are built on solid foundations such as respect and trust.

    Thanks for this

    • Hi Ekufaa,

      Thank you for your comment. I believe a lot of people have unrealistic expectations for their relationship due to romantic movies and social media. It is important to understand the differences between realistic and unrealistic expectations in order to avoid disappointment.

      Kind regards,

  3. I like what you said about trust, respect and communication being the building block of a relationship. Many people need to read this and try to not focus on a social media relationship but enjoy the time with their partners instead of being on the phone all the time. It shows lack of attention to your partner.

    • Hi Rackim,

      Thank you for your comment. I am happy to see that you found this article useful and you believe many people should read it in order to understand what are the most important things in a healthy relationship.

      Kind regards,

  4. Hi Ioana,

    Great article and very educational. I think one of the reasons why relationships don’t last is because couple try to rush things and set crazy goals that are not sustainable. I enjoyed reading your thoughts on relationships.


    • Hi Ali,

      Thank you for your comment. You are absolutely right, rushing things in a relationship is one of the reasons couples decide to break-up.

      Wish you all the best,

  5. Ioana

    This article is super powerful and has touched the message from your writeup is direct and perfectly applicable to any relationship, it will make any relationship last for a lifetime if diligently adhered to strictly.

    Is there a strategy particular to a gender can any of the mentioned points be applied all humans?

    • Hi Dan,

      Thank you for your comment. The points mentioned in the article can apply to both men and women to the same extent. I hope this answered your question.

      Kind regards,


  6. Wow… I must honestly just say, WOW. This has truly been a great read for me. I never saw relationships in this way, such as actually making realistic expectations, I never stopped to think about how realistic my expectations were in a relationship and this article has made me stop and think about that. You have made a lot of valid points in this article and I appreciate that a lot. Thakn you

    • Hi Misael,

      Thank you for your comment. I am happy to see that my article has helped you understand your expectations in relationships .

      All the best,



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