Do You Suffer from this Modern-Day Relationship Killer?

What expectations do you have for an intimate relationship? Expectations like honesty, respect and support are all very reasonable.

But research is showing that modern couples are expecting more and more from each other. In addition to basic love and friendship, romantic partners often expect their mates to support their careers, personal goals, emotional wellbeing and spiritual growth.

And most of us are ready to end the relationship if it doesn’t measure up. This is becoming a toxic mix for many couples.

Do we expect too much of each other? Is there a way to meet everyone’s needs and still have a happy, fulfilling relationship? Let’s take a closer look.

How Did We Get Here?

Up until the mid-1800s, most couples got married to meet basic needs like food production, shelter and safety. People primarily lived in farming communities where they made a living from their homes.

During the mid-1800s to the mid-1900s, men started to go to wage-earning jobs while women tended the household. It became easier to meet basic needs for food and shelter, so people expected marriages to fulfill somewhat higher needs, such as being loved and experiencing romantic passion.

From the mid-1900s until today, cultural values have continued to shift. Couples now often look to each other to help meet their highest human needs, such as self-discovery, self-expression and personal growth.

Why is This Causing Problems?

Prior to the 1800s, building a marriage to meet your basic survival needs would have been fairly easy. Farming and survival at the time required hard physical work, but you didn’t need a loving bond or deep insight into your spouse’s psychological essence.

Today, that bond and insight into each other is essential to help couples achieve their higher needs together. And a modern relationship, whether it’s a marriage or other form of intimate connection, needs an investment of far more time and energy than in the past.

This is where we start running into trouble. Couples are placing higher demands on each other, but statistically are spending less time together. Over the past few decades, the time couples set aside for couple-related activities has been decreasing.

Instead of activities like eating together, visiting friends together or having quality alone time together, couples now spend large portions of their time working, using mobile devices and trying to juggle all the pressures of modern life.

These constant demands on our time leave very little left to put towards our intimate relationships. And, perhaps not surprisingly, the satisfaction level in modern marriages and romantic relationships is also decreasing.

Is There a Way To Turn This Trend Around?

The good news is, there’s a lot you can do to support a healthy intimate relationship while still meeting everyone’s needs.

It’s true that more relationships break up today compared to years ago. But, the relationships that stay together and find ways to fulfill each other’s higher needs are actually more satisfying in the end.

This is because meeting your higher needs, such as personal growth, is linked to the greatest levels of personal satisfaction and mental wellbeing. Relationships that meet your basic needs will lead to feelings of physical comfort, but not the happiness and inner peace experienced by meeting your higher needs.

The high expectations we place on modern relationships are actually an amazing opportunity to help both partners achieve a level of personal fulfillment that was nearly impossible in the past.

How to Help Your Romantic Relationship Flourish

1. Put time into your relationship.

This may be the most difficult thing to do, but it’s by far the most important. Relationships are not self-maintaining. They’re like a living being, they need love and attention to thrive.

And before you get discouraged, keep in mind that quality time is often more important than quantity. You only need to spend as much time as both of you need to feel loved, happy and supported. That may only be a quick check-in with each other once a day, or it could be a date night once or twice a week.

Whatever you decide to do together, the point is to give each other your undivided attention. Turn off your phone, minimize other distractions and really focus on your partner for the time you have together.

2. Prioritize your partner’s needs at the same level as yours.

Recognize that support goes both ways in a healthy relationship. If you want your partner to support your goals, you have to support theirs.

Has your partner told you they would love to make a career change? Your first reaction may be to criticize them and point out all the possible problems that could arise.

Instead, take a moment to see it from their eyes. How do you think they would want you to support them? What could you do to encourage them to follow their heart and make the change?

3. Find ways to foster intimacy and closeness.

Letting your partner know you care can be as simple as a quick text message in the middle of the day. Or it can be as elaborate as a long vacation to somewhere exotic you’ve always wanted to go together.

These gestures, whether small or big, are important ways to communicate that you take each other’s happiness seriously. And they’re shown to help strengthen feelings of connection in a relationship.

Another great way to build intimacy is to find out your partner’s love language. These are ways of expressing your affection that your partner appreciates the most.

Related: These Two Words Are the Key to a Happy Relationship

4. Deal constructively with conflict.

Disagreement is a normal and natural part of any relationship. But it’s easy to fall into the trap of expecting an argument to just “work itself out” without facing the issue. Or you might avoid conflict altogether because you’re afraid of hurting your partner.

Ignoring conflict isn’t a solution, it will only breed resentment in both partners over time. The only way to settle a disagreement is to deal with it openly and honestly.

Check out these tips on how to communicate during a conflict.

5. Outsource some of your needs.

In most areas of life, you naturally seek out a variety of ways to meet your needs. It should be no different when it comes to meeting relationship needs.

Make a short list of what’s really important to have in your life, such as love, personal connection and a sense of belonging. Then look for ways to fulfill those needs outside of your romantic relationship.

Take time to connect more deeply with friends and family. Volunteer for a cause that’s meaningful to you. Join a group that shares your passions in life. Actions like these will not only make you feel good, they’ll also take some pressure off your intimate relationship and give both of you some breathing space.

6. Broaden your definition of intimate relationships.

It can be helpful to take a closer look at intimate relationships themselves. What does a romantic relationship mean to you? Do you require an intimate relationship to be made up of two people? Or would your needs be better met by more than one person, or maybe only yourself?

Polyamory is a term used to describe being in an intimate relationship with more than one person at a time. A relationship with multiple partners can come with its own challenges, but the opportunities for personal growth and meeting everyone’s higher needs are also multiplied.

At the other end of the spectrum, choosing a solo path can be just as fulfilling as a partnership. Many spiritual traditions suggest that our highest purpose in life is to gain a full awareness of God, oneness or universal energy. Others can help you on your path, but this final understanding can only be reached on your own.

Related at Care2


Danuta W
Danuta Wyesterday

Thanks for sharing

Maria R
Maria R1 months ago

thanks for sharing

Ann B
Ann B1 months ago

this can be summed up in several words WORK AT one wants to listen and really work at a relationship--and then there is the run home to mommie point ....another soap box another time

Jim V
Jim Ven1 months ago


Jim V
Jim Ven1 months ago


Jerome S
Jerome S1 months ago

thanks for sharing

Jerome S
Jerome S1 months ago

thanks for sharing

Anna R
Anna R2 months ago

Thank you

John W
John W2 months ago

Interesting, but some points were a bit obvious.

Deborah W
Deborah W2 months ago

Mutual usery vs. unconditional love that fills in the blanks when and where needed, no matter who takes over which role, personally investing and interchanging for the best long-term outcome. Takes two ...