Eight Tips To Make A Relationship Work With A "High-Maintenance" Woman

Updated April 1, 2024by Regain Editorial Team

Are you in a relationship with “a high-maintenance woman?" Before we go any further, it’s important to note that this term—“high-maintenance woman”—may be considered offensive, sexist, or an example of negative stereotyping. No matter their gender or their personality traits, partners in relationships may face challenges in being together. This may include being with a demanding partner who has high expectations that may be impossible to meet.

If your partner places high demands on you that are selfishly focused or if your partner has excessive or unrealistic expectations, you may be wondering what to do to improve the relationship or whether you can make the relationship work. Mutual respect and valuing each other’s needs are important to relationships. Still, if needs become demands or if they seem unnecessary or extreme, it may be time to evaluate your relationship and make changes. Learning how to work with a partner to establish mutual respect can help strengthen the relationship and its individuals.

Getty/MoMo Productions
Do you have difficulty breaking off unhealthy relationships?

How to address your concerns with a demanding partner

There are strategies that individuals and couples can use to bring about positive change and build healthier relationships so that both partners feel respected and fulfilled:

Remember, you can only control yourself.

You can’t control anyone else, but you can control your emotional reaction to your partner and how you interact with them. Suppose your partner has unreasonable demands or regularly becomes upset about things that don’t go their way or don’t meet their expectations. In that case, something you can try to control is your response to their behavior. Instead of getting angry, feeling resentful, or engaging in an argument, for instance, you might try using the healthy communication tips below to let your partner know how you’re feeling.

Use healthy communication strategies to speak with your partner about your concerns

Healthy communication for couples includes:

    1. Processing feelings before you begin talking. For example, you might think about why you feel the way you do about a partner's behavior. Are they adding stress to your relationship? Are you worried that your partner gets too upset when things don’t go as they want or plan? Are you upset because you think your partner feels a sense of entitlement?

    2. Timing the conversation well. Try to avoid conversations in the heat of the moment. Instead, try to find a time when you’re both calm and give your partner a heads up that you’d like to talk about something that’s on your mind about your relationship.

    3. Using “I” statements to explain how you feel. Sounding accusatory may not yield good results. But focusing on yourself and the way you feel may help your partner see your perspective.

    4. Respectfully asking to be heard and, in return, respectfully listening to your partner’s point of view.

Try setting goals with your partner

Setting goals with your partner and making resolutions to reach them can strengthen your relationship. For example, in the case of a partner with unrealistically high expectations, you might talk about how you can help them manage their expectations. You might set goals about how you’ll both try to respond if your partner shows disappointment that demands or expectations weren’t met.

Set clear boundaries

Setting boundaries in a relationship can be a healthy step. It can be a sign that you care about the relationship, as well as a sign of self-respect. Setting healthy limits can increase positive interactions and discourage negative ones. For instance, if a partner regularly expects that a trip or a meal or something that you do should be perfect (things rarely are) and the experience falls short, you could let them know that you’ll listen to them voice their opinion for a minute, but that you will not listen to unproductive, lengthy criticism, complaints, or pouting. More importantly, you might set boundaries regarding your responsibility for their happiness. You can do your best to respect them and satisfy them and meet their needs, wants, and expectations, but ultimately, your partner is the only one who can manage how they feel.

Discuss the realities of time, resources, and expectations

From a practical standpoint, there might not always be the time or resources for a partner’s expectations to be met by you, themselves, or others. For example, their expectations may not be realistic if they’re anticipating a high price gift for a birthday, but you can’t afford it (or don’t feel it’s best to spend the money on it). Sometimes a partner may have high expectations of what another person “should do,” but if it’s not realistic or not aligned with your values, pointing that out might help.


Understanding high expectations

It’s important to know that high expectations are not necessarily negative. They can help motivate people to meet their goals. However, a problem may arise when high expectations are unrealistic or when one partner relies on the other to fulfill their high expectations. The pressure to meet a partner’s unreasonable expectations or fulfill all their needs can hurt the relationship.

Where do these expectations come from?

  1. Expectations may come from within the person themself or their family, friends, peers, or society.

  2. Gaining the approval of others may fuel expectations.

  3. Some people feel pressure or expect things to be a certain way because their acquaintances have reached these expectations.

  4. Certain individuals tend towards perfectionism. Perfectionism may have the following characteristics:

    1. A person may have an irrational desire always to be perfect.

    2. A person may become controlling in relationships.

    3. A person may have goals that are unrealistic or unattainable.

    4. A person may have excessively high personal standards and be overly self-critical.

According to research, if you or a loved one is a perfectionist, you should be aware that perfectionism can affect mental health. Help is available to address perfectionism that is hurting mental wellness. Licensed mental health professionals can help you or your loved one develop an individualized treatment plan for curbing perfectionism.

Eight ways to manage expectations with your partner

So how can you and your partner manage your expectations?

  1. Try seeking an outside perspective. A licensed mental health professional can help you identify unhealthy or unrealistic patterns of expectations. They can also help couples manage the pressures of expectations and feelings that often result when they’re not met.

  2. Challenge and reset expectations. As a couple or as individuals, people can challenge and reset expectations. It can be helpful to ask, “What would I tell a friend in the circumstance about this goal or expectation? Is it necessary? Is it achievable? Is it truly important? Is it in the best interest of the person or the relationship (or even their family and other loved ones)?”

  3. Brainstorm different outcomes and options. If one expectation isn’t met, what’s another outcome that would be acceptable? How can you, as individuals and as a couple, react in healthy ways to different outcomes?

  4. Practice relaxation techniques. Managing high expectations can be stressful. Try deep breathing, taking a walk, getting fresh air, or taking mindful pauses. Focusing on the moment instead of what’s to come or past disappointments can help you feel better.

  5. Practice gratitude. Purposefully paying attention to good things that happen can help you and your partner recognize that there are positive things to be thankful for (even if they are different from what was expected).

  6. Rationally and respectfully, work on discussing differences that arise from expectations or demands.

  7. Problem-solve together. Brainstorm and try solutions to stressful expectations, demands, behaviors, and feelings.

  8. Set reasonable, realistic goals and work towards them so that both partners feel mutually and emotionally supported.

Do you have difficulty breaking off unhealthy relationships?

Online support for relationship issues

Talking with a licensed counselor can be very helpful if you feel that you're dating someone with overly-high expectations or someone more needy than you. You can go to couples therapy together to work through the obstacles you’re facing in your relationship and learn positive ways of interacting. This can include learning how to improve your communication and how to set healthy boundaries in your relationship. If your partner isn’t interested in counseling, you can still go to therapy on your own. You can learn how to respect yourself to ensure that you can remain healthy while staying in the relationship if that is what you choose to do. You can connect with relationship therapists through Regain. Regain is an excellent resource for convenient, affordable online therapy with a licensed mental health professional. You'll be matched with a therapist suited to work with your particular situation, and you can schedule sessions that fit your schedule.

Online therapy has helped many individuals with relationship issues. Whether it's dealing with high expectations or a demanding partner, help can be found without ever leaving home. Online therapy can, in many cases, be as effective as in-person therapy, if not more so.

If you’re unhappy in the relationship, it might be time to consider whether it might be in your best interest (and that of your partner) to end it. If your partner is only concerned about themself and is constantly pushing your needs to the back, you might not want to continue to be together.

There is a difference between staying in a relationship with a “high-maintenance” or demanding partner and staying in a psychologically abusive relationship. Emotional abuse of a partner is never acceptable. Relational abuse can happen to both men and women. If it happens to you, know that it is not your fault. Please seek help if you’re in any abusive relationship, whether the abuse is physical, emotional, or verbal. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is available 24/7 at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), or you can text START to 88788. A chat option is available on the website.


Bad jokes about “high-maintenance women” may be common (or used to be), but challenges with partners are no laughing matter. Successful, happy, mutually respectful relationships are achievable. We all deserve respect and fulfillment.

For Additional Help & Support With Your ConcernsThis website is owned and operated by BetterHelp, who receives all fees associated with the platform.
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
Get the support you need from one of our therapistsGet Started
This website is owned and operated by BetterHelp, who receives all fees associated with the platform.