Great Expectations – Are You Expecting Relationship ‘Water’ From an Empty Relationship ‘Well’?
Posted Jul 14 2010 2:31pm
I’ve been talking to a few readers recently where they’ve become a victim to their own great expectations. Let’s be real – we all have expectations to some level and this is normal, but if you find yourself in dubious relationships or being disappointed by those around you, it’s because you may be caught somewhere between under expecting and over expecting. After a while it becomes like panning for gold under your floorboards or someone repeatedly putting their bucket down an empty well and still expecting it to come up full.
We all have personal core values and the opportunity to use boundaries, our personal electric fence for knowing our limits and teaching people how to treat us and what to expect. This means that much like when I say we need to go out into the world with a reasonable level of trust and adjust accordingly with our interpersonal relationships, we also have to go out into the world with reasonable levels of expectation for meaningful results.
If we underexpect, it’s because we believe that it’s what we deserve or that we can’t do better, and this will draw in people that cater to these beliefs. It’s also because sometimes, when we don’t want to expect too much of people it’s because we don’t want them to expect too much of us. Unfortunately while they may deliver to your level of under expectation, if you have little or no boundaries and are not aware of what you are communicating about yourself or how you can be taken advantage of or abused, you’ll have people who will even manage to under-deliver on your meagre expectations. You may also find that you coast along through life in a near coma of disappointment and frustration.
By the same token, if you over-expect, you’re setting yourself up to be disappointed and to fail, because you are unrealistic. You believe that people who want to be around or with you should meet your lofty expectations because you have some preconceived ideas that haven’t been sanity checked. You’ll communicate that you’re high maintenance, emotionally demanding, and possibly controlling, but you’ll also communicate that your head is in the clouds because you don’t come back down to earth and adjust your expectations – you just assume that people should meet them and when they don’t, they feel the wrath of your disappointment. Sometimes, we have high expectations because we don’t want people to get too close in case they discover the perceived flaws that we hide behind the bravado.
When it comes to expectations, it’s certainly more than OK to have them, but, and there is a but, where the value of expectations comes in is in 1) recognising the net difference between what you expect and what is actually happening, 2) doing something with the information, and 3) regularly sanity checking to make sure that your expectations are in line with the situation and not just something that you made up with no basis.
When you have expectations, it is important to know your values and your boundaries and recognise when things don’t match up. The only way you can do this is by opening your eyes, listening, and paying attention to the all important actions.
You cannot be aware of what is happening around you if you are in denial, building illusionary sandcastles in the sky, and running around with rose tinted glasses on because you don’t want anyone to pierce your bubble.
When there is a difference between your expectations and the reality, it is a sign that either:
1) Someone is not meeting your expectations because there are fundamental incompatibilities.
2) Someone is not meeting your expectations because nobody can meet your expectations because they’re unrealistic.
3) Someone is not meeting your expectations because you get involved with people and situations that are the least likely to deliver on your expectations due to negative beliefs.
4) Someone is exceeding your expectations – this is hopefully a good thing although some people get suspicious and sabotage things…
If your expectations are not being met, it’s important to ask yourself why.
Before you start to feel negative about the person or the relationship, it’s also a good time to ask yourself if you have ever communicated your expectations or whether you’ve just assumed them.
You may argue that what you expect is only ‘normal’ but it’s all relative to the relationship so if your expectations are not being met, it is time to communicate your expectations to the other party to find out whether they are actually capable of meeting them.
They may be unaware that these are your expectations. They also have the right to tell you if what you’re expecting is unrealistic from them.
Expectations in relationships are a two way street – you can’t expect in isolation and just ‘expect’ that people will jump to your beat.
Communication is two-way and expectations is one-way – If you blindly run around accepting, you’re not acknowledging the person in front of you or accepting them, which is an act of disrespect in itself as you’re opting for expectation illusions and betting on potential.
Communicating your needs, your expectations, gives the other person a right of reply and the opportunity to even communicate their expectations. This can be an opening to meaningful communication or it can be the opening to recognising that you both want different things and may have a difference in values. While this may be painful, this is a lot better than beating each other up (not literally) for not meeting expectations that have not been communicated.
Relationship insanity is choosing same guy/woman different package, carrying the same beliefs, baggage, behaviours, and attitudes, and then expecting different results.
Let’s say you’ve had the same expectations all of your adult life and so far, nobody has met your expectations. Do you keep expecting and hope that one day someone will make you the exception and give you the surprise of the century?
Or is it time to have an honest conversation with yourself and ask if what you are expecting (whether it is too little or too much) is realistic?
One of the traps that people fall into is that when people don’t meet their expectations, they don’t assess the situation and the ‘risk’ and work out what is going on. This means that they adjust their expectations to fit in with the other person’s behaviour.
Now it is one thing if, let’s say, if you had some major epiphanies about yourself and realised your expectations were wholly unrealistic and you were killing a great relationship right in front of you, however, it’s another when your expectations get managed down so that you expect little or nothing, and also end up with little or no boundaries and not living congruent with your values.
I see this happen all the time with people who continue to love and trust blindly and have someone blow hot and cold on them and effectively manage their expectations down over time.
The key with placing expectations upon people and having expectations about situations, is much like trust, they must be evidence based and adjusted to reflect positive and negative information that has the power to affect your perception of things.
Much like you shouldn’t love and trust blindly, you shouldn’t expect blindly either.
We inadvertently choose people that reflect what we believe about relationships, love, and ourselves. If these beliefs are negative, our fears and beliefs will show themselves up in our relationships creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Your beliefs are tied to your values. If you don’t understand what your core values are which is basically about what you believe you fundamentally need to be happy, you will end up at conflict within and end up not living congruent with your values.
If you don’t understand the importance of values, you will not only allow people to bust your boundaries, but you will also expect more from people than they are capable of delivering and apply your energies in the wrong places, which means you will be perpetually disappointed.
Right now, I know that there are a lot of people out there that are expecting emotionally unavailable people to be emotionally available, because they ‘want’ them to. I know there are people out there wanting an assclown who doesn’t specialise in decency to ‘do the right thing’. There are many people out there that are expecting a committed relationship from someone who views them as someone they’re ‘hooking up’ with, ‘not serious’ or ‘not the one’. In fact, there are many people who expect commitment from people who offer the least likely prospect of commitment.
Are you expecting something from someone that they are not already doing? Have they already expressed whether through words, actions, or both that they cannot do what you expect? If you have, stop expecting and get into reality because you are creating unnecessary pain by trying to get them to make you the exception.
I should also add that don’t expect from people things that you do not possess or do yourself. There’s no point in expecting honesty and openness, if you are selective with honesty and closed off.
If you don’t get conscious about who you are, your beliefs and how they are linked to your relationship habits and behaviours, you will just keep on expecting as you already do, believing that the problem is ‘them’. They may well be a pain in the ass, but the responsibility to take care of yourselves and manage the risk is all yours, so if you have great expectations from someone who can’t be relied to tell you the truth, never mind make plans for the next day, and there’s an absence of love, care, trust, and respect, expecting from them…is just expecting too much.
Are you doing No Contact? Check out The No Contact Mail for support delivered by email . Also check out my ebooks including The No Contact Rule , a dedicated guide to getting over someone by cutting contact and injecting some boundaries into your life so that you can move on to a happier you, and Mr Unavailable & The Fallback Girl , a no holds barred guide to emotionally unavailable men and the women that love them, in my bookshop . For personal advice or analysis of your relationship/situation, check out my consultation service .