It’s hard not to have any expectations. We were raised on expectations—what others expected of us and what we expect of others. Honestly, I don’t think our brains will ever evolve to the point where we can live expectation-free. We can however, monitor and manage them. Here’s how expectations impact our relationships. We expect…
- Others will treat us in the same manner in which we want to be treated.
- Others will honor their word at all times.
- Others will want to change in ways that we deem necessary.
- Others will understand what is important to us and act accordingly, even if this entails reading our minds and sacrificing their own needs.
These expectations are destined to be unmet. No one is perfect. No one can meet your needs all the time. No one should sacrifice their well-being for the sake of satisfying a lesser need of another. No two people share the exact same values and belief systems. No two people are alike. If you have any of these expectations, you are destined to be disappointed. And don’t kid yourself. You absolutely have one or more of these expectations whether you admit it or not. If you didn’t you would never be disappointed and disappointments are a fact of life. Whether you like it or not, expectations set you and your significant other up for failure. There’s no avoiding it. Your loved ones can no more meet those expectations any more than you can. Without knowing it, you are trapped in a no-win game.
But wait! There’s another category of expectations that sabotage us. These expectations are set up in a way that they are destined to be met. We make sure they are. In these circumstances, we expect…
- Others will never treat us in the same manner in which we want to be treated.
- Others will never honor their word at all times.
- Others will never want to change in ways that we deem necessary.
- Others will never understand what is important to us and act accordingly, especially if this entails sacrificing their own needs.
These types of expectations are simply flip sides of the same coin. It is a defense mechanism designed to protect oneself from being disappointed again and again. In this case, you take one specific incident when your expectations aren’t met and turn that into a grand statement and absolute truth. This is when the “you always….” and the “you never….” is declared. This is simply another way we attempt to assuage disappointment and hurt.
So what can we do to mitigate the damage? How can we monitor and manage our expectations in a way that strengthens our relationships rather than weaken them? While in theory the answer lies in having no expectations at all, in reality, this is easier said than done.
Since it’s so hard to live without expectations, I decided to offer a new set to live by. Please feel free to edit and make this list your own. This is just a working draft from which to build. Rather than fight human nature, I’ve decided to work with human nature in a more powerful way. So here it goes…
- Others will be who they are at all times and act accordingly, not who I wish they were.
- Others will do the best they can with what they have to work with (both internally and externally) at each moment in time.
- Others will sometimes say “yes” to my requests and sometimes say “no.”
- Others will make mistakes—sometimes they will learn from them and sometimes they will not.
- Others will grow and evolve at their own pace and in their own way, or not.
- The unexpected and welcome the surprise!
Let me know how it goes. Share your new list of expectations with our community.
If you or someone you know is struggling with disappointment and pain, don’t hesitate to contact me. It can be difficult to discern what is acceptable from what is not when it comes to your relationships. While disappointments can be transformed into intimate connections, some repetitive behaviors are indicators that creating healthy boundaries and setting clear limits is needed. I can help guide you through the process of sorting out which is which. Take advantage of the opportunity so that you can live your best life.
As always, I’m here to support you in creating strong and powerful relationships.
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