“Love is always bestowed as a gift—freely, willingly, and without expectation. We don’t love to be loved; we love to love.” ~ Ritu Ghatourey
Sorry, Ms. Ghatourey, but with all due respect, that’s crap.
Love without expectation may exist in the same world as unicorns and flying pigs, but in the real, gritty world I live and love in, expectation is an inherent part of the game.
I fancy myself a free spirit. Spontaneity is my middle name. Had I lived in the ‘60s, I would’ve been a free-love advocating hippy. I’ve been in myriad types of relationships, including monogamous, open, polyamorous, and undefined. I’ve also spent plenty of time in the land of singledom. In every relationship, I strove to release my expectations, but after dating as many different types of guys as there are fish in the sea and having every relationship go up in flames, I’ve come to the conclusion that my lack of expectation is precisely the problem.
I spent one summer working as a whitewater raft guide and, if I learned anything that summer, I learned that a delicate balance between chaos and control is vital to getting down the river safely. Rafting is an exhilarating mix of letting go and working your ass off. Rivers can’t be controlled, and neither can love, but what can be controlled is the amount of work you put into a relationship.
I used to mistake letting go for having no expectations—that’s where I went wrong.
Loving without expectations is like rafting down a river without a plan. You must know which lines to take on each set of rapids in order to remain reasonably safe; you must paddle as hard as you can at times, and at others, simply sit back and enjoy the glorious peace in the lulls between the rapids.
Expectation is not the enemy; it is vital to a healthy relationship.
I’ve grown up enough and gained enough self-respect that I now know exactly what I expect from someone who wants to date me. I expect you to be kind and considerate. I expect you to be honest with me. I expect you to be thoughtful and compassionate. I expect you to respect me. I expect you to be able to have a conversation with me about your own expectations and where we’re going without running away. I expect you to hold me to the same standards.
I don’t expect you to be perfect. I don’t expect you to complete me; I am complete already. I don’t expect you to always remember the little things. I don’t expect you to read my mind or know how I feel. I don’t expect you to be fearless. We will both make mistakes.
I expect you to be there to help me when I stumble, and I will do the same for you.
I can pick myself up (and have many times), but what’s the point of a relationship if we can’t help each other when we fall? I know love isn’t always 50/50, and I’m willing to give 110% of myself as long as I know it won’t be for naught. So, yes, I expect you to stick around, and if that’s not your plan, then I expect you to tell me.
My free spirit and free-loving nature have gotten me hurt more times than I can count. When I love, I love wholly. I don’t hold back—what’s the point? Of course it’s scary, but so are rapids—all you have to do is keep moving forward. Sometimes you fall out of the boat, and that’s okay. The thrills and beauty of the ride make facing the fear worth it.
I expect you to be afraid, for love is no small matter.
I also expect you to be brave enough to face that fear and discover the amazing expanse that lies just beyond fear.
That’s where the real fun begins.
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Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: Author’s Own
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