Sometimes it’s hard to know for sure what you can reasonably expect from your partner:
- Should he return every text at the earliest opportunity?
- Should he make time to hang out with you every weekend?
- Should you split the bill 50-50 every time you go out?
But before you can resolve these specific questions, you need to establish the basics—the things you should ask, with confidence, from every relationship. Following are 8 such “basics” you have a right to expect from every romantic relationship.
Your partner may express this either in words, behavior, or both, but physical affection, such as hugging, kissing, back or foot rubs, or holding hands is especially important in romantic relationships. Your partner should like you as a person, and be able to demonstrate that in a way that reaches you.
When you’re hurting, you have a right to expect your partner to be, in the words of Phil McGraw, “a soft place to fall.” He or she should be tender with you if you’re in pain. A partner’s not obligated to read your mind, or be “in it” with you. They don’t have to feel the same way you do. It just needs to matter to him or her that you feel bad.
A good partner shows respect—for you as a person, and for your boundaries. Although he or she may disagree with you, there’s no name-calling or ridicule from a respectful partner, even in the name of “just teasing.” A respectful partner knows and admires your strengths, is gracious about your weaknesses—and doesn’t willfully engage in boundary violations.
A considerate partner thinks about how his or her behavior affects you. They don’t have to give you everything you ask for, or do everything you want them to do, but they owe you the courtesy of considering things from your point of view. If a partner doesn’t do this, he or she is treating you like a pet rock that doesn’t need care or feeding. (And I know you’re not that…because rocks can’t read.)
Every relationship is based on sharing at least some time together. It can’t always be helped if your partner has to be away. But if he or she rarely or never has time for you, or consistently rations the time you spend together, you might ask yourself how much more of your own time you’re willing to spend pursuing them.
It’s reasonable to expect your partner to have a greater interest in you than the average person. At least some of your activities, opinions, thoughts, feelings, etc. should hold his or her interest. A partner who isn’t interested in you as a person may be in the relationship just to avoid being alone—and you both deserve better than that.
Intimacy is not the same as sex. It means allowing yourself to be known, and wanting to really know your partner. More than just “Are you a morning person or a night person?” genuine intimacy is being familiar with each other’s emotional, vulnerable selves.
A truly generous partner enjoys helping, soothing, or finding other ways to benefit you. Such a partner doesn’t necessarily give you material gifts or take you on fancy vacations. Giving oneself fully in relationship is the ultimate gift. To the extent that your partner offers you what’s on this list, they’re being generous.
Having the right to expect these things doesn’t mean you’ll always get them. It does mean that it’s okay for you to ask for them, and that it’s okay for it to matter to you if they’re not available from your partner.
Of course, your partner can and should expect the same things from you: You might want to sit down together and talk about the items on this list that are most important to each of you, and focus on addressing those first.
This article was written by Tina Gilbertson and originally appeared on PsychologyToday.com