What are expectations and why do we have them?
First of all let’s throw a few definitions out there. These are not necessarily straight from a dictionary (honestly I made them up, but of course what I made up is highly influenced by what I’ve read in the dictionary).
- 1.) Expectations are ideals or beliefs that we have about the way things should go in a relationship given its particular status (i.e. committed, casual, marriage, etc.).
- 2.) Expectations are actions or feelings that we presume our partner should have given the (sometimes) presumed level of commitment in the relationship.
So you see there are two aspects to an expectation. The first aspect is our belief system. We will delve into this further in this first article. The second aspect has to do more with actions and feelings of the moment rather than ideals and belief systems.
Most of us grew up in an environment that arguably is responsible for about 50% of who we are (nurture vs. nature). That environment does not define us but it shapes us and if we let it can influence the rest of our relationship experiences.
Let’s say that you grew up in a family where your father was an alcoholic. Your mother didn’t necessarily approve of this action but she didn’t have the confidence to move away from it or stand against it. You watched as progressively your father became more addicted to his drink and more aggressive to your mother. You saw your mother cower but refuse to leave. You felt the pain of his anger and the heartache of her hurt.
Or perhaps you grew up in a tight conservative Christian home. Both of parents would never think of divorce. You were taught that you are valuable. That you are a princess. That god loves you just the way you are. You were told you should wait for marriage to have sex and that God would provide the perfect mate for you that would make you happy. Family was everything.
Or suppose that you grew up in a single parent home. You only have your mother around for most of your life. Sure you had weekends at your father’s when you were young but then your mother got a job in Dallas and moved away and you went with her. And she quickly began dating other men but couldn’t seem to have a relationship that lasted more than a few months. So you got used to a constant stream of men and she encouraged you to go out and experience the same.
These three situations could have vastly different effects on your expectations of relationships. My story most resembles the second one. I thought relationships were the end all be all of life. In fact, I put them so much on a pedestal that I truly thought I couldn’t be happy until I found that one person to spend the rest of my life with. And my expectation was that they would make me happy. And that if I just did everything right (God’s way?) than I’d create the perfect happy relationship. . . . . [to be continued]
Author: Jesse Leake
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