Have you ever experienced the beginning of a new friendship or relationship, where everything just seems to fall into place? There’s a natural harmony that makes you feel like nothing could go wrong. In those moments, you don’t worry about making a wrong move or saying the wrong thing. It just flows effortlessly, and the connection feels almost effortless

Now queue the ultimate enemy of harmonious relationships: Unmet expectations.

At some point, a need we have within a friendship or relationship will go unfulfilled. This could be due to our failure to communicate our wants and needs, or it could result from the other person’s choice not to deliver. Either way, an imbalance arises, and resentment starts to take root. From this point on, if left unaddressed, we begin to view the actions of others through a lens of disappointment

I recently heard someone say that we often have God-like expectations of humans. However, if you were to trace many friendships and relationships back to the point of discord, you would see that it often stems from one or more people having unrealistic expectations that ultimately go unmet.

Imagine if I expected my dog, Tucker, to cook dinner and do the dishes for our family each night. That sounds crazy, right? It’s because it goes against everything that Tucker was created for. Tucker was created to be my loyal companion, to sit and stare at me in every room I’m in, and to remind me of his need for playtime. If I were to place expectations on Tucker for something he’s not capable of or designed to do, I would be disappointed every time.

As preposterous as that sounds, we often do the same thing with people. We replace expectations on them to meet a standard that only God can fulfill, and when they don’t, our relationships suffer. This is how good relationships go wrong.

Recalibrating our expectations is not about settling for less, but rather about having realistic expectations and valuing the unique qualities and contributions of those around us. It is aligning our expectation with their capability and design. That was so important that I think it needs to be written again with bold letters: It is aligning our expectation with their capability and design.

It is critical to keep in mind that fulfilling our innermost needs is a task that ONLY God is capable of accomplishing. Therefore, placing this responsibility on the people around us is not only unfair but also unrealistic. Acknowledging this truth helps alleviate the undue pressure we put on our relationships and ultimately leads to a sense of freedom when we release others from burdens they were never meant to bear.