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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.

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.

Limerence and the Art of Love

There is perhaps nothing quite as exhilarating as the heady feeling of falling deeply, madly, passionately in love. While some call the magic "limerence" -- that almost mystical connection of body, mind and spirit -- others say it's simply the most powerful sexual chemistry they ever experienced.

Regardless of how you define it, experts say once we do experience the "high" it becomes etched in our brain. Because of that, many of us come to expect that intense feeling to remain throughout the relationship. But this, say experts, is a false expectation that frequently drives many a couple apart.

"Some people, particularly those who rush into marriage, have this idea that they are going to be madly in love with their partner 24/7. They firmly believe that not only is it going to always be this way, but that it should always be this way," says Lowe.

 

Nothing could be further from the truth. Why? Research shows that at least part of that initial "WOW" feeling we get with our partners may have more to do with fluctuations in brain chemistry than flutters of the heart.

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