What are expectations? (Part 1)

expectationsWhy expectations kill everything.

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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21 thoughts on “What are expectations? (Part 1)

  1. SO true! Oddly enough I just got done reading about this very same thing int the book about the Duck Dynasty Family. lol They were saying that the reason there are so many failed marriages is because of the fact that people go into marriage with too many expectations. You’re supposed to have unconditional love for your partner and accept them with all their flaws. If your only expectation is that you want a person you can share your life with and you accept the fact that you’re both individuals, then your marriage has a better chance of lasting.

    Good post!

    1. I completely agree. And I think that unconditional love is taking way too far. Unconditional love means that you accept the person for who they are. But it does not mean that you have to go craft shopping with them or work on cars with them if those are things that you completely do not enjoy. Similarly it does not mean that you only love them. You have to have friends. Sure you’re not going to have the same type of relationship with your friends but you have to have individual separately relationships

      1. Oh I agree! All unconditional love means to me is complete acceptance of the other person. I wouldn’t be able to love another person if I couldn’t live separately from that person. I like my alone time and Hubby likes his to do all the geeky things he likes to do… the good thing is that he doesn’t expect ME to do those geeky things or love those geeky things anymore. lmbo We’ve learned to accept each other but to not expect the other to follow in our footsteps, if that makes sense? lol

  2. Wow. You’ve put my recent self-discovery process into words. Great post. I too come from a family where my parents have been happily married for 35 years and the same with my grandparents. I also think fairy tales have an influence on kids (haha. Or maybe just me). I had this fairytale notion that someone would save me and be my everything. I felt like we all had a soul mate. I’m starting to re-evaluate and I’m going into my next relationship with no expectations (aside from general courtesy stuff). It is what it is. I’ve also started realizing that we have this concept of “the one.” There are what 7 billion people in the world. It’s unrealistic to think that there is only one person for everyone. I think if we had the opportunity to meet a ton of people, you could click with others in the same way and be equally as happy with each of them. The whole idea of one person being meant for us puts a ton of expectations on relationships.

    1. I agree. And while it would be nice to spend your entire life with one person and share all those memories, that should not be your goal in life. If it happens then great. If not, and you end up with several good relationships that eventually come to an end, you can still be thankful. I have had a couple of odd relationship experiences which turned out to be wonderful. Yet they ended. Should I feel less blessed than the couple who had a great relationship and then got married and then eventually their relationship fell apart? Or even the couple that stays married. Overall are they really more happy in life? Happiness comes from within I believe. If you are a happy person you will be happy regardless of your circumstances. And you will learn to create better circumstances when bad ones present themselves.

  3. Mmmm?…seems very interesting…can’t wait to read more. I shall proceed to add myself to (and get lost amongst the sea of!!) your trillions of devoted followers. 🙂

    1. Thank you so much for your comment. I am looking forward to your thoughts on the rest of the series. I have actually written most of it but I don’t want to post it all at one so that people have time to digest it. And I have time to rewrite. I try to respond every comment so you do not get lost in the sea of followers as you call it.

  4. Good Post ! I try not to have any expectations in my relationships, that way what ever happens is always good ! I tend to set them very high when I do set them.. so to avoid me being angry of the outcome.. i just don’t set any !

    1. I do believe that expectations are rather cumbersome to a good relationship. If you don’t have any in just go with the flow you will most likely be happier. Because if someone ends up walking all over you you can just walk away. And if the relationship turns out great then what a surprise.

  5. I relate most to the first scenario. In fact, I married an alcoholic and stayed for 12 years. I am at a point where I am not sure what to expect from a relationship as I don’t know what a normal one is and should be really. I have been single now for six years and have no plans to get married again anytime soon. I am whole-heartedly giving all I have to my church and my sons. That is where my relationship status is now. 🙂

    1. I think that is great. If you have something that you are passionate about that you can give your heart to then why do you need to spend time with a relationship? I am sure you have good friendships and you keep busy and your life sounds like it is satisfying to you now. If the right person comes along most likely they will just happen to be doing the same thing and you would just click. If not you are doing what you want anyway. So why worry right?

    1. There are some expectations that are necessary for example honesty. If you tell me that you are committed and not talking to anyone else and I find out that you are sleeping with my best friend then our trust will be broken. My expectation will be that I will walk away though not that you will change who you are. That is where expectations fail. We think that by having expectations we can create an environment where all those expectations are met. This is unrealistic.

      1. I see what you’re saying. I probably should continued my …to mean that we will naturally have expectations, but they need to be fluid. You’re right in that it is unrealistic to think that all of our expectations for our life can be met – human behavior and our interactions with others just don’t work that way. Thanks for responding.

  6. Looking forward to the next part. Expectaions ARE killers. Recently I came to an awareness that I was not made for a man, which is what I had believed since I was a teenager, spending years awaiting Mr Right, my soul-mate, my knight in shining armour, the one the Creator made just for me, etc. Father showed me I was made by Him FOR HIM.

    1. I wonder if the idea of being created for a man came from the biblical story in Genesis where is Eve was created for Adam. Regardless of whether you believe that story was literal or not I think we can clearly see that women were not created to be satisfied and be satisfied by man. It just does not work in reality. Sure a woman can satisfy some of my needs. Or a man might satisfy some of your needs. But they cannot complete us or make us happy. Thanks for the comment.

  7. This is so true. I believe everything that happened to you when you were a child has transcended into your adult hood. The way you grew up was view to you as YOUR “norm” realizing that someone’s life is different – some people don’t understand that. CORRECTION – they don’t take time to understand.

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