06/21/2013 05:47 am ET Updated Aug 21, 2013

Dating With Expectations

What's Fair?
Expectations typically disappoint, but knowing this doesn't prevent us from having them anyway, especially around dating. Assuming you can't give up your relationship expectations, what are some fair and unfair ones to have about a new man or woman in your life?

Scary Stuff
A new partner who insists it's love at first sight doesn't meet anyone's expectations or desires. In fact someone who declares instant love should frighten the dickens out of you, and cause you to question their emotional health. Love takes some amount of time to develop, and while it will hopefully include lust, the two are not interchangeable. Desperation is scary, and being made to feel afraid is not a fair expectation.

Hogging The Conversation
A woman in a new relationship expects to be asked questions about her life. But that expectation gets dashed if her new guy hogs the conversation. This finally resonated with me after I became aware of my tendency to dominate the conversation, particularly on a first date. When my monologue was interrupted by a date that asked if I was interested in hearing about her, I got it, and I stopped feeling the need to tell my life story right away. My partner, Sarah, mentioned that she'd appreciated my interest in her because I'd asked her lots of questions on our first date. I told my story over time, which actually lent an element of suspense and anticipation.

Early Expectations
When one person's expectations regarding where a fledgling relationship is headed may feel fair, it won't necessarily bring two people closer together. One partner's expressing a loving expectation to always be together, might feel like pressure to the other. A relationship requires some breathing room without any added pressure. It's better to simply allow the relationship to unfold naturally.

Emotional Honesty Expectations
I've written several articles about emotional honesty, because it's inextricably linked to both partners assuming responsibility for sharing their truth. It's a fair expectation, because if it's absent in a relationship, so is the truth. This can be difficult, particularly in the beginning when neither person feels comfortable being vulnerable and open. While emotional honesty doesn't need to happen immediately, it's a goal both partners have a right to expect in a relationship because it creates trust, the foundation for an intimate relationship.

Sexual Expectations
Sexual expectations are tricky since each partner's are more than likely different, but until the relationship actually becomes sexual, nothing is certain. But that doesn't preclude fantasies, which can easily become expectations. Since sex is so uniquely personal, couples tend to avoid talking about their sexual expectations early on, but sexual issues addressed early can get resolved before they become problematic. It's fair for a couple falling in love to expect to have great sex.

Ending Relationship Expectations
Being told by your new love interest that he or she has decided not to continue seeing you is a fair expectation. This is most kindly said in person. To simply stop calling as a way of breaking up isn't a respectful, or fair-minded way to end a relationship. I used to tell myself that if I stopped calling, the message should be obvious, but in truth, while it may have been obvious, it was also insulting, and spineless. I became more forthright after hearing some angry feedback.

Your Hopes
Expectations are simply your hopes, and it's best to recognize them as hopes, and not inevitabilities. Even your fairest intended expectations won't necessarily become someone else's reality. Having modest expectations leaves room for wonderful surprises, and lessens the chances for disappointment.

Earlier on Huff/Post50:

Survey On Post 50s Dating Issues