Dating Expectations: A Guide to Balanced Relationships

What are the proper expectations to have while dating, if any at all? Crack the code of dating expectations with matchmaker insights!

There’s a ton of conflicting information out there about what we should expect in our dating endeavors. We’re also not merely grappling with what to expect, but whether we should even have expectations to begin with. In this epoch, caught somewhere between a sea of casual hooking up, a constant barrage of instant communication, and 20 streaming services packed with romantic comedies that skew our perception of what it feels like to find and sit with somebody (or ourselves), being thoughtful about dating expectations vs reality might save us a lot of energy later. For the sake of our own piece of mind and with our tophats tilted toward Dickens’ character Mrs. Havisham from Great Expectations, let’s have a deep dive into the realm of dating expectations and how to navigate them with grace and flexibility.

1. It’s Okay to Have Expectations

We have to start here, and fervently. The age-old understanding that “you’ll never be disappointed if you never have expectations to begin with” is not untrue, but it is unfair. Your energy is not infinite, you deserve some back, and the only stable way to build a trustful and loving bond with someone requires an understanding that they’re going to show up in some agreed upon way. 

This is also how the world works: we expect people to stop at red lights as they’re slowing and we begin walking, because we’re all responding to signals. So, in our dating expectations, especially at the beginning, simple things like getting a timely response to a text (see our recent article on texting etiquette) or someone showing commitment to plans, are entirely valid. Hiccups do happen, of course, so it’s important to keep these expectations within reason, but shoot to identify patterns to protect yourself. Sometimes that might also mean expecting that your person isn’t pushing things along too quickly. “Appropriate pacing,” in your dating expectations is pretty subjective, and may have much to do with attachment styles, so we’ll talk about that next. 

2. Recognize Attachment Styles

Every individual brings their own attachment style into a relationship, shaped by their personality, dating history, and maybe even their childhood. This influences their own expectations in relationships and how they connect and communicate, so realizing and troubleshooting that both you and your potential partner might have different ways of approaching intimacy and emotional closeness can be really helpful. While some daters might be more reserved, and others more expressive, understanding these styles can help you navigate the initial awkwardness and find a communication rhythm that suits both parties, leading to a healthier connection over time.

3. Embrace Individual Lives and Rhythms

As you develop a relationship, depending on your age and circumstance, it might be easy to forget that your date has a life of their own, complete with commitments, interests, and routines. Expect to encounter points of compromise and perhaps even friction as you meld your lives together, and expect open communication about it to be your best friend. Finding the balance between personal time and shared experiences is key, and giving each other the space to maintain existing friendships and activities will help nurture a well-rounded connection.

4. Communication Styles Differ

While you might be the type who sends long, thoughtful messages, your date might prefer short and concise texts. Don’t assume that their communication style mirrors yours. Instead, expect that there might be differences, and consider being open to adapting your approach. The goal is to create a comfortable environment where both partners can express themselves without feeling pressured to conform to a specific way of communicating. If you’re open, compromising and finding each other on this can actually be a lot of fun.

5. The Pitfalls of Unrealistic Expectations

Unrealistic expectations are poised to hurt you and damage a relationship. Assuming that your date will fulfill every need of yours, always know the right thing to say, or perfectly fit a preconceived mold is setting yourself up for disappointment. These unattainable ideals can lead to unnecessary stress and resentment, and might sever a relationship which might have otherwise had a lot of potential. As you construct or tweak your expectations when dating, remember that perfection doesn’t exist, and that relationships thrive on imperfections. This gives you room to grow together! 

6. Building Trust through Transparency

Dare to be vulnerable and transparent. It looks good on you, and keeps things authentic. Walls and defenses can really get in the way of developing intentional intimacy. Orienting yourself and your expectations in relationships toward transparent communication helps lay the bedrock for a modern and trustful relationship built on mutual understanding. If you’re afraid of them seeing something, ask yourself why! For better or worse, in a long term relationship, they’ll see it anyway. 

7. Thinking about Timelines

We’re not all on the same timeline, and building a relationship is a journey and a process that unfolds at its own pace. It’s okay to be excited about a new connection and still avoid rushing things. Expecting that your relationship should progress at the same speed as previous ones, or comparing it to others in general, can lead to unnecessary pressure. Instead, allow the relationship to evolve naturally and without undue hurry. You can check in with your partner to see what that looks like for them, just be careful to avoid adding pressure. 

8. Handling Disagreements Maturely

Disagreements happen, even (and perhaps especially) in the healthiest of relationships. It’s unrealistic to assume that you and your partner will always see eye-to-eye on everything, and you might consider embracing the challenge and just being mindful of how you manage these differences. Approaching conflicts with empathy and a willingness to listen can be very productive here. Also, facing challenges head-on and resolving them maturely strengthens your connection and shows your commitment to supporting your relationship and your respect of both of your individual needs.

9. Balancing Independence and Togetherness

Here, again, is a personality and attachment style discussion, but: being in a modern relationship does not necessarily mean spending all your time together. In reality, it’s important to maintain a healthy balance between independence and togetherness, and that balance should be defined proactively by you two.  Expect that both you and your partner will need alone time, hobbies, and personal space, and creating this balance allows you to appreciate your time together even more.

10. Evolving Expectations as the Relationship Grows

This can be exciting but also daunting. Your expectations will develop and change as you get to know eachother better and the relationship deepens, so consider expecting that your initial expectations might need adjusting to accommodate the changing dynamics. Regularly communicate with your partner about what you both need and want from the relationship to ensure you’re on the same page.

Get Started Toward Your Last First Date

Try Tawkify today. We only accept candidates we believe we can match.