This very word is the great disturber of relationships. It is something we all do, at every level, and one of the biggest reasons for failure. It not only permeates all of our thinking, but is encouraged by society.
I'm not even sure where to begin on this one! Women, in particular, are susceptible to expectations. I witness it all the time from the women of my acquaintance (and even myself). We are told from an early age what a man should provide, and how he should make us feel. When we enter adulthood we start looking for that icon of a provider in our men (that our protective parents have helped us establish as "good" for us). He has to be strong, virile, successful, intelligent, good looking, romantic, loyal (well the list goes on forever). And the moment we step into a relationship, we start expecting all these things. We ask: where is my romance? Where is my token of love? Why am I still working? Ịt would be humorous if it weren't so true. Men do this too of course. We all expect many things from our partner on how they should love us, behave, and provide.
We have a laundry list of expectations and if they don't fill them, we start the process of asking that person to change for us. In fact, immediately the mind starts to work in overtime thinking how we can get them to be "better" for us, in order to meet our expectations.
Well, let me tell you, the failure rate with this kind of attitude leads to the amazingly high divorce rate in our society today. You may even stay married or together, but misery will be experienced on the part of your mate to some degree. Some people are naturally compliant or have a personality that wishes to please, so the misery may be less or staved off for a while. But I find even with these people, this attitude lasts for about two years and then they start pushing back, at which point the pusher is shocked and hurt and exclaims that the pushed has "changed" for the worse. The truth is, they simply reverted back to who they were before the manipulation.
When we date people our expectations are somewhat low. We settle for expectations such as "be on time, groom yourself", etc., but when the commitment follows, the hidden agenda leaps forth. Often commitment ensues because the hidden agenda was kept just that: hidden. One partner may think, "Wow, this person really accepts me for me... great, let's commit!" But the blush of romance and love is over soon when the myriad of expectations comes out in full force. Some people can't even take the pressure and bail out right away.
Let's be honest; we all do it. Our goal is to strip ourselves raw! We should endeavor to wash away these expectations and come into the relationship with acceptance and love. The very foundation we worked so hard to build. Wonder not what they are going to do for you. Wonder not at how they are going to make you reach heights of ecstasy. Fret not when the trinkets don't come your way as often and as regularly as you think they should. Each human being has gifts to offer in the way of relationships. Do not try and make their inner gifts your gifts. I remember a woman once who had a very unromantic husband (she claimed), but his gifts were so abundant in other areas. You have to approach them with eyes of love and not with eyes of expectation. I also know young attractive women approaching thirty that still can't "find anyone" because their list is so long and extensive that God itself would have a hard time meeting them! I myself would run like hell from these types of mates because you will never live up to their false sense of what is love.
If you or your mate has fallen into the trap of non-loving expectations, try and discuss it with each other with love and sensitivity. And if you are beginning a new relationship, and don't want this happening to you, share your philosophies up front. If you have an honest partner, you should be able to work this out.
Just one final comment here. When I speak of expectations as not being conducive to a free and loving relationship, use common sense here. We can have healthy expectations. For example, I expect that you will not beat me. If you do, I have every right to remove myself from the unhealthy (and very unloving!) relationship. If a mate is sleeping with everything that moves, he or she is putting you in harms way. Do not confuse human rights and respect for your partner, with cloying self-serving expectations. What we're aiming for here is mutual acceptance, trust, and the freedom to be the highest we can be. To release our attacment to self projected outcomes...
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