(Un)realistic expectations


We all operate with some level of expectation from others – friends, family, partners, work colleagues, potential dates, even people who serve us in shops or restaurants. And in all those relationships and interactions, we want to be treated fairly, with respect, kindness and love.
Unfortunately, there is no guarantee others will treat us the way we think they should. No matter how good we are to them, people can still disappoint us, let us down and fail to deliver on their promises.

So, is having expectations good or bad? It’s actually neither, as long as our expectations are realistic.

How to know when our expectations are too high, and avoid feeling hurt when they don’t get met, here’s the video blog:



Do you feel your expectations from dating and relationships are realistic?
Do you often get disappointed in people?

Thank you for sharing and contributing!

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11 Responses

  1. Jen says:

    Petra, I loved this one. This fundamentally changes how I think and came at a time when it was just what I needed… Thank you!

  2. CJ says:

    Life sucks.

  3. Ms Jones says:

    Wow. What a downer Petra.
    Not expecting my mother to show love for me but maintaining a healthy relationship by lowering my expectations? How little must we expect from others who are supposed to “care” for us and still maintain a healthy self image of our value?
    Hate to say it, but this is this video sends the message that we should lower our expectations for ourselves and others to be nothing more than a hollow shell or a dumb animal.
    I am pretty sure this is not what you meant (I hope), but this is what comes across in this video.
    No wonder the previous commentator wrote
    “Life sucks”.

    • Petra says:

      Well, I thought that part is pretty controversial – we all have huge expectations from family, especially parents. It is easier to maintain good relationships when we accept people for who they are, and not for the ideal we think they should be. And it’s true for parents to. They are supposed to care, but do they really care the way you think they should? That gap between expectation and reality is a source of a lot of misery. You don’t have to lower expectations from everyone, and yourself. But not everyone will be able to give you what you expect, and recognising that is wise – so we can better pick the people we want to be close to. Parents/family are different because most people want to keep the relationship, and in that sense it is good to not expect what they can’t give, if we have a lifetime of proof for that. That doesn’t mean you will settle to be treated badly, just that you will recognise who they are, what they can give, and welcome that – not be constantly hurt by the difference between what they do and what you think they should. Hope it’s clearer now!

      • Ms Jones says:

        It is much better to have high expectations for oneself than to expect so little – just so you won’t be disappointed.

        As for family members, why “welcome” them at all if they are hurtful, mean, abusive? So what If they are your family members? They are the ones who can hurt you.

        If a person has a dysfunctional family where there is abuse, mistrust or abandonment, they are the type for whom “welcome” means a chance to resume hateful and hurtful remarks, etc. I have a few like that and I stay away from them. THAT is the UNFORTUNATE expectation in that instance, but it is not healthy or “reasonable”. It’s not. It’s damaging and hurtful and, quite frankly, wrong.

        Unfortunately some people play out this scenario in their adult years, so they think this low level of satisfaction is all they will ever find.

        • Petra says:

          I understand where you come from, and I agree. Of course you will not let people be mean and abusive. Having low expectations does not equate with having no boundaries. What I meant was – when you have to interact, don’t expect more than they are capable of giving. That doesn’t mean you have to interact a lot, and let them abuse you. You can set your boundaries and have the level of contact you are comfortable with – to protect yourself. And when you do that, they will respect you more and will treat you better than when you just give, give, give. But to ensure you don’t get disappointed, it’s good to not expect. That way – you are just accepting them for who they are, and their hurtful actions can’t throw you off balance. For example: if I expect from my parent to treat me as equal, or to treat me with lots of love – and they can’t do that (or won’t), I will always be disappointed with our interaction. However, if I say – the best I can get is being polite, not warm, not caring – then all I expect is politeness, and I can’t get disappointed or hurt if I don’t get more.

          • Ms Jones says:

            You are lucky if your family members are polite to you. Some people are simply toxic.
            I stay away from them. These are my family members.
            I cannot change their incorrect perception of me or stop their hurtful gossip and remarks.
            I have learned to expect good from people only who express good. And I have learned to surround myself as much as possible with good. Interacting “politely” with close family members who constantly put me down is very dangerous to my emotional well being. That is the boundary for me.
            It is magical thinking to think that “being polite” to someone who continually hurts you is healthy in any way at all.

          • Petra says:

            Makes sense, we set our own boundaries, no need to be even polite with people if they continue to hurt us. But – what I wanted to point out, when we know they are toxic (as in your example), we don’t expect them to be non-toxic. We accept them as they are, and adjust our behaviour accordingly, to protect ourselves. The problem is when we can’t stop hoping and wanting for their family members to change, that’s what hurts us most – we so wish them to be different that we expose ourselves to their toxicity. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Sara says:

    i am totally into it . i loved this topic and i also share same thoughts as u do . This topic is comprehensive and i am sure it has more to talk about, 11 min are not enough to fill all interesting things in .
    i’ve been ‘victim’ of disappointments from unrealistic expectations and is really hard to get your self up again because it depends on how big this expectation was and on who you were expectating how important was he/she in your life

  5. Klaudia says:

    Yes, I do get disappointed in people a lot. It is true both of family members and people who are not my family. People are so fake and superficial these days. In terms of expectations, this is all so illogical. I haven’t had any luck in finding a relationship so far and when you are in this position, you often hear ,,good” advice of lowering your expectations. On the other hand, the same people tell you not to set on something that is not good for you. Where is the logic? I know what sort of man I want. Perhaps, there is no man like that out there? Perhaps, I am destined to be alone till the end of my life?

    • Petra says:

      I don’t think you should lower your expectations in a partner, that’s not the way to go. However, there is a way to manage your expectations which will help you to filter the people in your life so you can surround yourself with those you can really have a good relationship with, those you can trust and be happy around. In terms of dating, learning this skill will help you weed out the ones you really don’t want to spend any time with, and find those you want easier. If you would like to discuss this with me – get in touch, we can do a consultation and I’ll see what is it that you are missing and why you can’t seem to find the type of partner you want and need. Please contact me via Coaching or Contact page or directly via email, and we’ll take it from there.

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