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Setting Good Expectations

Are you looking for love but finding disappointment? You may be asking for too much too soon. Five experts shed some light on what to expect from romance.
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Keep It Light at First

While the wisdom may seem a bit conventional, experts say one of the best ways to win at love is to hold off physical intimacy until you really get to know someone.

"Sex changes everything," says relationship coach and matchmaker Melissa Darnay.

"I always tell my female clients not to have sex until he says 'I love you' -- because if you become intimate too soon you'll be thinking 'Oh, now we're a couple,' while he's thinking 'Oh boy that was sure fun,'" says Darnay, author of the book Dating 101.

The end result, she says is that one partner is playing by one set of relationship rules, while the other may not even be on the game board.

To avoid all these complications, Darnay advises both male and female clients to keep things light and breezy -- and put no expectations on each other -- for at least a few months.

Deepen Your Commitment Gradually

While expecting too much is sure to kill a relationship, the opposite can also be true. Indeed, experts say that when a natural sense of entitlement doesn't rise up and come to the surface of a love affair, it won't last -- no matter how hot the passion.

As your feelings for one another deepen over time, the relationship should progress to reflect that, says Sadock. Both partners should give more of themselves and expect more in return. As such, she says it's reasonable to expect that you will not only begin to spend more time together, but also give more to each other emotionally.

"Ideally, you should expect that you and your partner will feel closer at 10 months than you did at one month," Sadock tells WebMD.

Psychologist Dennis Lowe, PhD, offers this advice to increase your odds of success: Think a little bit less about what you expect from the relationship and a little bit more about what you can bring to it.

"When you think of the traditional marriage vows when people are pledging to honor and cherish, they talk a lot about what they are going to give to the relationship. Today, when people talk about a relationship they often talk in consumer terms -- like what am I going to get out of this, and what are you going to do for me," says Lowe, founding director of the Center for The Family at Pepperdine University in California.

When partners place at least some responsibility for the success of the relationship on themselves, Lowe tells WebMD they ultimately will get more from each other.

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