When you enter into a romantic relationship, expectations come with it.
Some expectations originate from family tradition, while other expectations are forged in the fire of disappointing past encounters.
Some expectations form into healthy boundaries, while others result in perpetual frustration.
Lastly, expectations can mold a relationship into something it isn’t, or provide clarifying perspective.
So how do you distinguish expectation from reality, discern expectation from direction, and peel apart consequence from identity?
The first step to understanding our expectations is to examine how we allow others to treat us.
How we feel about another person’s behavior will reveal our values. Feeling guilty manifests when we’ve allowed our personal standards to be violated. The level of respect we allot ourselves will be met by the level of respect that will be reflected back to us from others.
Our emotions and feelings help to gauge the enormity and subtlety of expectation.
Emotions are guides. They act like a great symphony full of harmonic melody and sometimes chaotic noise. When you feel pain/noise, either physical or emotional, that is a cue for self care.
Do you brush pain aside or do you attend to it? Neither choice is better than the other, but that which you choose will allow you to understand the inner narrative that is giving rise to expectation.
Second, expectations are mostly crystallized desires or suppositions. Expectations are often constructed out of our biological need for efficiency and comfort. What we are most familiar with will morph into expectation. So, love and fear translate into expectation according to repetition.
Expectations form around our sense of worth. Worth is an agreement we make to either cherish this life or to abandon it by lamenting the past and fantasizing the future. Plans are carried out through action. So, if you find yourself placing a value judgement on outcomes saying to yourself or others, “That should have gone this way,” the moment has been lost by holding onto an expectation.
So, when it comes to your romantic relationship, the expectations you hold can actually block happiness.
All life has a pulse to it. The same is true for relationships in that there are times when you see you partner through a lens of adoration, and there are other moments when all that comes into view is everything annoying and unnerving. Perspective towards a negative view or a positive view is based on bias towards your partner’s actions. If they act in a way the meets your expectations, this tends to result in favor. If your expectations are not in alignment with how your partner acts, then this tends to result in negative judgments.
Humans are biologically programmed to gravitate towards pleasure and avoid pain as a means to survive. So it would seem that the pleasure gained from expectations being met would lead to more pleasure and more pleasure would lead to greater happiness.
The opposite is true.
What leads to happiness is being flexible with expectation.
In fact, if you acknowledge that expectation is just an agreement you have made with yourself based on a coupling of external and internal stimuli, then you can also acknowledge that expectation is mostly an illusion.
Grasping onto an expectation as if it is fact or an unmovable object lends itself to disappointment because what is actually true is that everything changes. Much like stereotypes, expectations are predetermined judgements where the events of the past are overlaid onto future possibilities.
This then transports the individuals who are co-creating relationship out of the moment and into being in love with possibility.
Expectations combine past experience with future conjecture. True love, unconditional love, real love is most alive in the moment.
So, if you are seeking unabashed happiness, enlightened connection, and full expression of your true essence, examine your expectations without judgment. Expectations come into play as mechanisms of survival and vehicles of continuity, but they are not meant to be fixed objects.
Simply, when navigating romantic relationship, bring awareness to your expectations. Discuss them honestly. Examine why you have them. Ask yourself, “Is this current truth or old truth?”
And approach your partner, your patterns, and your existence with unwavering curiosity.
Live in the now and expect great things.
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Ed: B. Bemel