I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Logan Ury, an author, relationship expert, researcher, and TED fellow. We had an amazing conversation about the effectiveness of modern dating, the expectations we have for our partners (more in the blog post below), who you should share the details of your relationship with, the intersection of sex and spirituality, and so much more.
Do we expect too much of our partners?
“...We come to one person, and we basically are asking them to give us what once an entire village used to provide. Give me belonging, give me identity, give me continuity, but give me transcendence and mystery and awe all in one. Give me comfort, give me edge. Give me novelty, give me familiarity. Give me predictability, give me surprise. And we think it's a given, and toys and lingerie are going to save us with that.”
I talk to people every day who are disappointed by their partner. When they got into the relationship they imagined they were signing up for something better - something more - than what they are currently getting.
They want more attention. More sex. More playfulness. More date nights. More passion. More comfort. More consistency and predictability. More novelty and surprise.
They want a workout buddy. A travel buddy. A sexual partner who has eyes only for them – who wants it when they do, and doesn’t when they don’t. A co-parent. A therapist. An accountant. A life coach. A best friend. An emotional support system. A cheerleader…
And when their partner isn’t all of these things – the things they always thought a partner should, could, and would be – it hurts.
One of the hardest things to do is to let go of a fantasy of how we think something should be and instead find fulfillment in a very different, sometimes less-than-ideal reality.
In the last several decades society has become less tribal, and more individualistic. We’ve become less religious and more secular. As this cultural transformation has taken place, the roles and responsibilities that a village, a congregation, or God used to play for us as individuals has fallen on the shoulders of our partners.
In many regards, we’ve elevated our partners to the status of God, and then we get disappointed when they don’t fill those shoes.
Now, there are 2 ways to interpret this message.
The first way is to look at your partner and say, “Yeah! My partner DOES expect too much of me. They should love me for exactly who I am right now. I don’t need to change.”
The second way is to look at yourself and say, “Hmmmm, am I expecting too much of my partner? How can I meet my partner where they are at, and start to cultivate some people and resources in my life who can take some of the pressure and responsibility off of my partner’s shoulders so they don’t have to be everything for me?”
The first interpretation won’t get you any closer to where you want to go. It’s merely an excuse people use to let themselves off the hook for actually taking responsibility for their life and their relationship.
You can’t get the results you want in your marriage by simply trying to get your partner to change. That’s not how it works.
It’s the second perspective that opens the door to finding deep fulfillment and joy within the shortcomings and inadequacies that we all carry with us.
A true partner knows that the only thing they can control is their own thoughts, words, feelings, desires, and actions.
They simultaneously ask themselves, “How can I step up and be a little better today than I was yesterday?” Followed directly by, “How can I be more generous and forgiving towards my partner, and allow them space to be human and imperfect without feeling like they’re a walking disappointment?”
If you would like to ease the burden of expectations you’ve put on your partner, here are some things you can do:
Stop emotionally dumping on your partner whenever you have a complaint. Find a good therapist to fill that role for you and focus more on having positive and uplifting conversations with your partner.
Build a community of friends you can lean on during hard times.
Find a friend who will hold you accountable as you strive to reach your goals.
Invite a buddy to pursue a hobby with you instead of trying to convince your partner to share all your interests.
Does your partner always forget to do something? Hire someone to do it for you instead! Sometimes the extra cash spent to have someone else clean and fold your laundry, or clean the house, or manage the finances is worth not being constantly let down and frustrated.
Call a close friend when you’re having a rough day instead of turning immediately to your partner the moment something goes wrong.
Apologize for the times when you’ve expected too much and beat your partner up when they haven’t met those expectations.
Marriage can be the most fulfilling, rewarding, and inspiring thing you ever do… but it can also be one of the most frustrating, miserable, and disappointing things in life as well.
The outcome you experience often hinges on whether or not you’re able to dedicate your energy to leveling yourself up while holding space for your partner to be imperfect, flawed, and human (rather than seeing yourself as perfect and not needing any change or improvement while expecting your partner to do all the work and make all the changes).
Listen to today’s podcast episode for more on this topic and TONS more good stuff.
About Logan Ury
Logan Ury is a writer, researcher, and dating coach, who applies insights from behavioral science to help people create more meaningful romantic relationships. She was a 2018 TED Resident.
Logan is currently writing a book with Simon & Schuster on on how to make better decisions in romantic relationships.
She formerly ran the Irrational Lab, Google’s behavioral economics team, alongside Dan Ariely, author of Predictably Irrational.
She's given a TED talk, led workshops at General Assembly, published a Valentine's Day article in TIME, and spoken twice at SXSW. Her interview series “Talks at Google: Modern Romance,” where she speaks with world-renowned dating and relationship experts, earned 1M+ YouTube views. She ran “Couples Day,” an experiment in which 40 couples around the world participated in research-backed activities designed to increase connection. She’s partnered with leaders in the field of relationship science, including Esther Perel, John Gottman, Dan Ariely, and Dan Savage. She's currently conducting research on decision-making and breakups.
Learn more at www.loganury.com