14 Totally Reasonable Relationship Expectations You Should Have For Your Partner

When you’re coupled up, there are certain relationship expectations that are not only reasonable, they’re actually the bare minimum your partner should offer you. Of course, you need to be giving them the same in return, but that goes without saying. Here are some things you should be receiving from your S.O.

Explanations in a relationship that are totally reasonable

  1. Complete and total honesty No matter what, you should expect and be given complete and total honesty. We’re talking at all times. Without honesty, your relationship has no foundation and is built on wobbly lies. Of all the relationship expectations on this list, this one is the most important.
  2. The ability to trust them Along with honesty comes the expectation to be able to trust your partner without reservation or hesitation. You should feel safe with them physically, mentally, and emotionally. You should never have to feel like you have to doubt them.
  3. An equal partnership Even if one partner makes more money than the other, there should be a balance of quality in the relationship. You shouldn’t just expect it but demand it. Where one partner thrives, the other picks up the slack, and vice versa. This isn’t 1950. It’s more than reasonable to want to be treated as an equal because you are an equal.
  4. Emotional and mental support Crappy day? Bad week? Family drama? When you’re in a healthy, grown-up relationship, expecting your partner to be there for you through it all is very reasonable. You’re not just friends and lovers but a team. Teams work together. They support each other. Additionally, they come up with plans to make things better, easier, and if need be, less painful.
  5. Alone time It doesn’t matter how in love you are with each other. It’s very healthy to expect a decent amount of alone time so you can chill and do your own thing. This isn’t just about the heart growing fonder when you’re apart. It’s also about allowing the two of you to remain separate entities. You should be able to function without each other just as well as you function together.
  6. A trusting partner As much as you trust your partner, you should expect them to give you the same amount in return. You shouldn’t feel like you need to check in with them. You shouldn’t need to get permission to hang out with certain people. Nor should you feel as though they’re dictating to you how and what you can and can’t do. You should also expect privacy sometimes and get it.
  7. A healthy sex life Although sex isn’t the most important thing in a relationship, it’s definitely a major component and one that needs to be fostered. Sex provides not just physical pleasure but comfort and intimacy. To expect a healthy, active sex life is absolutely reasonable. You should also be able to expect your partner to be open enough to share their sexual fantasies with you. They should provide a safe space, free of judgment, for you to do the same.
  8. Adequate affection While sex definitely involves affection, the two can stand on their own. Because of that, expecting affection without sex is reasonable. Cuddling, kissing, holding hands – all of those aren’t just normal expectations in a relationship but necessary for relationship satisfaction. All these things, including sex, release oxytocin, also known as the “cuddle hormone” or “love hormone,” and it’s this oxytocin that creates a deep bond between people.
  9. Respect Well, of course. I mean this one goes without saying. In fact, you shouldn’t just expect respect but demand it all the damn time. Also, this shouldn’t be difficult for your partner to give you. In fact, it should come naturally.
  10. Alone time together If you have every right to expect alone time away from your partner, then you definitely have every right to expect alone time with your partner. While there’s nothing wrong with vegging out on the couch watching movies, you should expect more. Whether you need to set up a weekly date night or set aside a specific time where it’s just you two, one-on-one with zero distractions, then do it. It doesn’t matter how busy your lives are, you should always make time for each other and you should expect that time together from each other.
  11. Understanding Both love and relationships are very complicated. People love differently, people accept and show their love differently, and depending on where we’ve been and what we’ve seen, our idea of love can be very dissimilar to that of our partner. Because of this, a happy, healthy relationship that can stand the test of time should require two people who are willing to understand these differences and have the expectation that their partner wants to take the time to understand.
  12. Communication Of all the things one should expect in a relationship, communication is definitely a big one – right up there with respect. If you expect your partner to communicate with you in a positive and constructive way, and they either can’t or won’t, then that’s an issue. It’s not unreasonable to expect a grown-up to be able to effectively communicate. Honestly, it should just automatically come with the territory of being in a relationship.
  13. Laughter Neither you nor your partner needs to be stand-up comedians to ensure that your relationship is full of laughter. You should both be able to laugh at yourselves, each other, and some of the more ridiculous scenarios life presents when you’re together. The ability not to take things too seriously or to find a way to smile even when stuff is really hard will save your bacon a million times over, so this definitely falls into the category of “reasonable expectations.”
  14. Effort No one wants to feel like they’re in it alone, and it’s not wrong to want your partner to put just as much effort into keeping your relationship strong and healthy as you do. That’s not to say that your relationship should become a chore that needs hard work putting in all the time (though this will be the case sometimes, sorry!) but just that you and your partner should be totally present to what’s happening and what the other needs to feel happy, secure, and supported. It’s really not that hard.

How to ensure your relationship expectations are met

  1. Set clear boundaries from the beginning. You can’t hold your partner or relationship to any kind of standard if you don’t make it clear what those standards are from the beginning of the relationship. Your partner needs to know what you will and won’t accept. They also need to know what you expect of them. (Be sure to share what you’re prepared to offer in return, of course.) There’s no sense in setting a bad precedent by letting anything and everything fly. Doing this and then flipping the script months or even years into your relationship will never work.
  2. Call your partner out on their crap. If your partner isn’t meeting your reasonable relationship expectations, tell them so. If they lie to you, do something disrespectful, take you for granted, or otherwise do something you’re not down with, don’t just let it fly. That will only breed resentment. It also sends the message that you’re okay with that behavior.
  3. Lead by example. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Any expectations you have of your partner for your relationship need to be things you’re willing to offer in return. Otherwise, it’s just not fair. Treat your partner the way you want to be treated. Don’t compromise that. They’ll see you doing all of that and should pick up on it themself.
  4. Don’t ignore red flags. In addition to confronting your partner when they do something to hurt or upset you, it’s just as important that you don’t brush any red flags you notice under the carpet. If you see shady things happening or small, toxic patterns emerging, act. Don’t be tempted to just ignore them to maintain some semblance of harmony in your relationship. That never ends well.
  5. Keep the lines of communication open. Your partner isn’t a mind-reader. You can’t expect them to anticipate your needs if they don’t know what they are. You need to communicate with one another regularly and honestly. This way, you’re both on the same page. You can ensure you’re doing all you can to make sure you’re happy, healthy, and thriving as a couple.
Amanda Chatel is a sexual health, mental health, and wellness journalist with more than a decade of experience. Her work has been featured in Shape, Glamour, SELF, Harper's Bazaar, The Atlantic, Forbes, Elle, Mic, Men's Health and Bustle, where she was a lifestyle writer for seven years. In 2019, The League included Amanda in their "15 Inspirational Feminists Every Single Person Should Follow on Twitter" list.

Amanda has a bachelor's degree in English and master's degree in Creative Writing from the University of New Hampshire. She divides her time between NYC, Paris, and Barcelona.

You can follow her on Instagram @la_chatel or on Twitter @angrychatel.