We expect too much from romantic partners and should lower our standards, psychologist warns
Relationships are tough and with 42 per cent of marriages ending in divorce, experts are looking into reasons as to why so many of us are failing at them.
According to one social psychology professor, we’re simply too idealistic.
Eli Finkel, who teaches at Northwestern University in Illinois, believes that we expect too much from romantic relationships and we should drastically lower our expectations if we ever want to feel truly fulfilled.
Speaking to The Atlantic about his new book, The All-Of-Nothing Marriage: How the Best Marriages Work, Finkel explained why our understanding of marriage has changed in recent years, prompting us to demand more from our partners than we once would have done.
He believes that the biggest changes in society’s marital expectations in the past 100 years come down to added pressures which are exacerbated by cultural changes.
In addition to the presumption that we will love and adore our spouse, Finkel explains that there is a modern day assumption that our partner will also enable us to grow ourselves.
He implies that this often leaves people leaning on their partners for self-gratification, relying on them to make them feel competent, ambitious and attractive.
This puts too much pressure on the relationship, Finkel argues.
“The idea of the book is that the changing nature of our expectations of marriage have made more marriages fall short of expectations, and therefore disappoint us,” he said.
He explained that the relentless pursuit of such an idealistic pairing will put a strain on that relationship’s propensity for long term success.
Finkel believes that there should be no shame attached to asking less from your partner.
He advises spending quality time with your partner and scheduling in activities to ensure that both parties are on the same page in terms of what they expect to gain from the relationship.
Finkel’s theories are paralleled by a recent study which examined the consequences of unmet relationship expectations in 296 young adults.
Though most of the participants were in their 20s and weren’t married, researchers found that many of the their relationship expectations and realities did not match up, leaving them romantically dissatisfied.