Dating Expectations vs Reality – Why Relationships Aren’t All Fairy Tales

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Dating Expectations vs Reality Can Be VERY Different

When it comes to dating and relationships, expectations can be very different from reality. You might be familiar with those memes showing the contrast between what we think happens versus what really happens in dating life? Most of the time they are true.

People often talk about “relationship goals” in different contexts such as online dating and even marriage. Sometimes these goals get converted into attainable measuring sticks that we have to hit or we’re doing something wrong.

You can follow all the love and relationship quotes you like – but dating in real life can be very different than it gets portrayed in movies, on social media or in these relationship goals.

Having dated long distance and gone the distance (literally oceans) to now living together, here are a few observations and pieces of advice that we have learned along the way that demonstrate the difference between dating expectations and reality!

Dating/Life Isn’t Always Perfect

There is a big notion out there that – these days – relationships literally have to be perfect. Like, every moment is perfect. Every scenario, every day, every experience – utter perfection. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

An example that we can relate to is when it comes to travel. You’ll see on social media the picture perfect photogrsphs pof that perfect kiss on a cliff edge, or by a waterfall, or (insert pictureqesue travel spot).

What you don’t see is likely the dozens of other people around that the couple had to weave around to get the perfect shot. You also didn’t see the grueling 5 hour hike to get there, where the gear was heavy, the weather might not have been perfect, and they might have argued once of twice on the way for a number of reasons.

All that we are trying to say is that dating can be curated to look “picture perfect”. We really should be diving into the “behind the scenes” of these photographs to understand what the reality of dating someone might be. It’s not going to look the same for everyone, but it surely is going to be more complex than the few photos that you see.

People Have Their Bad Moments

Man and woman sitting on couch with woman looking away from him
People aren’t happy all the time…

Kind of going along with the idea that “not every moment is perfect”, people are complex creatures. We have so many emotions and behaviors – some that we sometimes can’t even explain. So it should come as no surprise when we find out that our partner doesn’t always react the way we would want them to. That goes for both good and bad.

Basically what we are trying to say is that not every moment goes perfectly and not every reaction is perfect, either. Things go wrong, delays happen, orders are taken wrong, etc. Whatever the issue, there’s a lot to be said about our reactions to situations.

Showing your non-patient side is probably something you should try to avoid doing on a first date – but the various sides of your personality should come out eventually if your partner is to learn ALL about you.

Social media doesn’t show you when another couple is going through a rough time, or when they’ve hit their last straw. You don’t see those bad moments in their relationship – but that doesn’t mean that they don’t exist. This is one major mistake that we often make.

So when you are experiencing a bad moment during your date or in your relationship, remember that something similar has probably happened to lots of other couples as well – you might have just not be aware of it.

Dating Can Be Expensive

Wallet with money on wooden background
Don’t think you have to do everything that you see in movies…

If you want to have all the same experiences that you see in movies or on social media you should know that a lot of these things cost money. Going to the movies, buying dinner, playing mini golf, taking a cute little row boat out onto a pond with the swans.-. that costs a pretty penny!

We’re not trying to bash spending money on a date – because if you have it and can spare it then that’s awesome. There are loads of great paid and free date ideas out there that don’t suck.

The issue we have is when people expect money to be spent to on them to achieve the perfect date. Some might think “he/she didn’t buy me that thing, that must mean he/she doesn’t like me”. Spending itself has become a standard – and a dangerous one to uphold while dating. What happens during hard times when the money is tight? No more experiences and nice things, basically.

We are pretty non-materialistic and also appreciate free experiences like hikes or city wanders so we never really started out with this problem. We knew what the other person expected from dating (it aligned with our passions) and we went from there.

Dating Can Be Hard Work

Man and woman lounging on couch and cuddling dating expectations vs reality
It might look easy, but that isn’t always the case…

This one is also more about building a relationship but can also be applied to dating: they take effort. Growing with someone takes work – and both people have to be willing to put in the work.

Getting to know someone deeply, coming to agreements, solving conflicts, making decisions – all these things take effort and work to get right the first few times.

We know from experience that they take effort. We had the advantage of talking quite a bit before we first met so we had a pretty good idea of where the other person’s head was at when it came to many things. Being in an intercultural relationship and surviving dating long distance helped with that! However, that talking doesn’t completely prepare you for when you are physically together.

Again, we aligned on many of our values and beliefs and we are generally easy-going people so we had a pretty smooth transition into actually dating, but we know others who have had a rougher time with it.

There is a point where clashing becomes too much and you have to realize that you and that person just aren’t compatible. Not every person you meet and go out on a date with is going to end up being your fairy tale prince or princess.

And there you have it – a few realizations about dating reality that might differ from expectations. In the end, everyone’s experiences are going to be slightly different. These are just a few of the observations we have made from our own relationship and from others around us. Just remember to be yourself and try not to be guided blindly by what you see out in the world – mainly movies and social media!

As always, Stay Curious,
– B&L

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Dating expectations vs reality