Expectations in Relationships

Being on the outside looking in at your relationship, you’re likely to see all the superficial things that appear to be contrary to the acceptable view of what a good relationship might look like. When you look at your relationship with your head instead of your heart, you can appear like two people contractually bound to each other, not unlike a prison confinement.

No one wants to be obligated to someone else by contractual agreement. If you’re with someone, and he or she is expecting you to perform or cater to their needs, wants, and desires, you would rather do it because you want to, not out of obligation or fear.

It’s natural to want to impose your expectations onto someone else. If you’re in a romantic relationship with someone with whom you would completely faithful, it’s natural to project your expectation of faithfulness on your partner. Seeing your partner through this filter of expectation can leave you feeling shocked by any indication that he or she may not be as faithful as you had expected.

People are vastly variant, and it is very rare that people will actually be on the same page at the same time, if ever. But you can establish common ground by open communication, sharing and caring, and having a clear understanding of each other and full knowledge about where each of you is.

Deliver the death-blow to any budding relationship by imposing expectations garnered from previous relationships onto your current one. For instance, if your previous partner massaged your feet before going to bed, don’t expect this to come naturally to your new partner. On the other side of the coin, if your previous partner betrayed you, it doesn’t mean your current partner will follow in kind. Everyone is different, and if you have negative expectations, your energetic attention to these details and their red flags may become a self-fulfilled prophecy.

Disappointment and hurt feelings are the rewards for imposed expectations. When you are feeling as though your partner has betrayed you (not met your expectations) it may be time for a heart-to-heart conversation. Note that while people are vastly different, they also change over time, and something that your partner may have done for you in the past, he or she may have outgrown. This type of open communication and renegotiation is something that must be conducted over time, any time you think your partner may have acted in some way that you didn’t expect.

Just because you thought someone was going to act/think/believe/be a certain way, doesn’t mean they are the way you perceived them to be. Even if you’ve agreed and pledged to treat each other in certain ways, this does not consider the potential for growth, change, or evolution.

Growth necessitates change, and if anything is constant in life, change is. The best way you can position yourself in an ever-changing world is to embrace change and to find a way to accept change when the time for it has come.

Your expectation to know certain things about your partner may both say something about your underlying need to know or have proof of something, and if your partner is feeling the need to not disclose something may say something significant about him or her. All this points toward a need to have a potentially difficult conversation to maintain a healthy couple connection.

Who knows?

If you are able to manage having a realistic relationship, accepting the potential for growth and change, without unreasonable expectations, you may find yourself entering new territory. The territory which leads to awakening to true love, unconditional love, if you dare.

It’s Like a Death

We get so attached to our expectations that when things do not turn out the way we’d planned or expected, the results can be traumatic, which can come at great emotional expense due to the experience. It’s like a death.

Just as if your dream or expectation mean just as much to you as a loved one, and when it all comes crashing down (and there is no longer any expectation of turning out like you had planned) then you’re left with all the conditions of grief, just as if someone you loved dearly suddenly died.

We tend to attach everything we are to particular expectations in all kinds of things.

You get psychologically and physiologically attached to everything that you “put your whole heart into.”

The object of your attachment could be anything from a friendship, romantic relationship, material things, spiritual matters, investments, educational or entrepreneurial plans. Really, you can get your heart connected and deeply attached to just about anything, if you have a pumping heart and a thinking brain.

If you’ve loved (been deeply connected to) anyone or anything and you have lost any hope of your expectations coming to fruition about it, you are entitled to your grief. And just as if someone you loved had suddenly died, no one can tell you how to grieve, or how long your grief will endure.

There are some patterns associated with people who are grieving and by looking at how others have successfully (and unsuccessfully) dealt with grief, we can learn better ways to approach to dealing with the grieving process.

The first caveat that can be generally accepted is to avoid trying to replace the object of your affection before you have completed your grieving process. Very little, if any good can come from prematurely jumping onto another like situation, prior to finding a mentally healthy place to approach something new.

If there’s anything we’ve learned from the past, it’s that moving on too soon will only find us smack dab in the middle of all this drama all over again. No one wants that, though it is something we can learn the easy way or the hard way.

So, allow yourself to take as long as it takes to go through the 7 phases of grief.

Briefly, the 7 phases of grief are,

1. Freaking Out

Your world has just been turned upside down, and you did not see this coming. You cannot believe that this thing did not work out like you had planned. You did your best to do everything right to ensure your success. Yet, here you are, all your hopes and dreams destroyed as you can clearly see the rubble. Of course, you’re going to freak out, and no one would blame you because we’d do the same thing, if we were you.

2. Hurt Feelings

There is a great deal of emotional expression that will run the gamut. One minute you will be feeling like the very life is draining out of you, unsure whether you can take another breath, or experience another heartbeat. The pain from your heart spreads throughout your whole body and you find yourself battling depression.

3. Pissed and Pleading

After a time spent dealing with having your feelings hurt to the core and the suffering that comes from that you move into the pissed and pleading phase. You are angry at everything, everyone, whether they were involved or not, and even worse, you get pissed at yourself. You start thinking about what you could have done wrong, or what you could have done better, and while you are fully aware of the unrepairable rubble, you start pleading for a second chance, may even attempt to rebuild something out of sheer will, but you realize at some point you cannot do anything about it. Them, you try to beg, or plead with God for another chance, like Groundhog Day.

4. Brokenness

Breaking, letting yourself crumble to a place where you feel like you are helpless to do anything about what has happened. You resign yourself to deciding that there is life on the other side of this, and now you can re-evaluate and plan for getting better, and if you’re committed to finding a way to move on, you can start to find your new normal.

5. Life Begins to Return

You’re starting to get through the day, one step at a time, and the steps are not quite as difficult as they were in phases 1 through 4. You’re feeling your body, mind, and soul start coming back to life. You are now starting to feel good enough to rebuild a new, more improved version of yourself.

6. Rebuilding a New You

Now you’re back on the path to healthful healing, getting over this particular episode and you start making plans to live a better life by being able to have some increasing clarity on this tragedy. From this vantage point you are able to separate the good from the bad and look to find the lessons and find the hidden treasures, the messages that were only for you, that you could not have been open to or received in any other way, and you find ways to integrate this new awareness into the more evolved version of you.

7. Loving the New You

Your evolution is complete, and you have let go of this thing which you can now leave behind in the past while retaining all that is valuable and/or necessary for the survival of the new you. How do you know you’ve let go? Because you can think about what you lost, and you have no negative feelings associated with it. Loving this new you means you don’t judge yourself for anything that’s happened in the past, you fully love and accept yourself and realize that we’re all just doing the best we can with what we have, and love what is, without judgment.

Anything you’ve been deeply connected with that you have lost is not unlike dealing with the death of a loved one.

If it’s like a death, why not allow yourself to memorialize whatever it is, by honoring it with a ritual, like a funeral. Writing a eulogy might help you to move through the grieving process a little better by honoring that which went before.

Plan on, and allow, yourself to grieve your loss, and don’t let anyone judge you for doing so. It’s like a death, and it’s up to you to look after you so that you can get ready to go on with your life in a more enlightened manner.