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Dating From the Inside Out
by Susan S. Davis

Great Expectations

When it comes to interpersonal relationships, unexpressed or stated expectations can prove to be problematic. Sometimes, even more particularly, when it comes to dating. Whether friends, lovers, or roommates, it is not unusual, for two seemingly friendly, even like-minded people, to have completely different ideas about what the exact nature of the relationship is.

In addition, it can also be commonplace, for people to have less than similar outlooks about the level and scope of a relationship, ironically, even when both parties are of the belief, that they are in sync in that regard.

For instance, each party may have completely different ideas about what it should take to keep the relationship healthy. Each may have their own ideas about how much time should be spent together.


Mutual friendships, new and old friendships, past and present, can be other issues that crop up, and it is amazing how each person’s perception can differ from the other. The fact remains, that if these issues are not addressed, not only can assumptions become the order of the day, but also when these assumptions come out in the open, they can become less than comfortable to deal with.

This is why, when things start to go wrong, the phrase “I never knew you felt that way,” is often expressed. By not knowing exactly what your friend, lover, or roommate believes in these situations, you may be opening yourself up for controversy that could be avoided, simply by finding out.

When people have different expectations about what relationships mean or require, often jealousy or frustration can result. As hard, difficult or uncomfortable as it might seem at times, it's important to talk out and discuss every issue that effects the well being of the relationship. The sooner that type of pattern begins, the better the relationship has of surviving and thriving.

Just when to discuss certain issues, varies at different stages of the relationship. However, if a thought comes to mind, and it is something that one or the other feels very strongly about, it is best to confront that issue as soon as possible. Determining what to sort out is often easy to figure out, by using the test of how important the issue is. What is important to one party may be insignificant to the other, but it is still important to clear the air or establish how to handle whatever comes up.

A great way to deal with issues that can tend to be disruptive, is to set boundaries. Some people, no matter how many hints are dropped, or what is commonplace within a community, will insist upon dealing with things on their own terms, which can be awkward, and if left unchecked, can result in more discord than one would have thought.

In any case, it is usually much better to know where the differences of opinion exist, than to operate on false assumptions.

Relationship goals usually include that each person is satisfied with what is being offered by the other within the alliance.

As simplistic as it may sound, if each person took the time to find out exactly what the other needs in order to have a satisfying relationship, each person may be surprised at what they find out.

The benefits of ensuring that each person is satisfied, not only serve to produce harmony within the relationship, but also can assist in ensuring that unhappiness is staved off. This can save time that may be spent to sort out difficulties that could otherwise have been avoided.

These are simple concepts, yet, a surprising number of people in friendships and other personal involvements, never take the time to really find out what each person expects from the relationship.

When people do take the time to establish even loosely formed guidelines that address the boundaries of a relationship, the benefits of personal satisfaction in establishing long-term relationships can be immeasurable, because setting the pace for the best communication possible is what will facilitate the process.

When people become dissatisfied with the quality of a relationship, some may voice complaints, which can easily be solved, if each person is open to listening and truly addressing the issues at hand. It could be, however, that certain items become “deal breakers,” and while that is unfortunate, it does happen.

The greater problem is that only a small percentage of people who are dating, actually take the time to thoroughly know what it is that their partner wants. It’s easy enough for people to know what they want, but actually addressing another’s needs is another matter. This is why, in seemingly happy situations, dissatisfaction can happen more easily than not. This is a major reason why so many relationships fail, and is probably a cause as to why some people have such difficulty even maintaining casual relationships.

Although people can be satisfied with a friendship and certain things about a relationship, there can be other areas that come along which, unchecked, can evolve into bigger problems down the line.

While not every issue can ever be covered within interpersonal relationships so that there is never a disagreement, most of the more important issues, can certainly be confronted early enough on, so that they do not pose problems later.

The bottom line is that the goal in any relationship should be that each person is satisfied and even delighted with what each provides to the other. As long as each person focuses on satisfying the other’s needs, without compromising their own to a degree that is uncomfortable, the result has a better chance of being a smooth, harmonious involvement. And that’s really what most every one is seeking in their lives, particularly when it comes to romance.

Susan S. Davis is a published book author and writer, currently doing research for a romantic screenplay she is writing. Her Dating From The Inside Out column is published every Tuesday.

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