Why are we so willing to give others love and grace, but then we hold those things back from ourself? Why do we set the bar so high that it’s nearly impossible to reach for anyone? And why do we consistently feel let down by others and more often – ourselves? It all comes down to one word: expectations.
This relationship I’m in has had its ups and downs (or so I thought). My partner always would say that he thought everything was fine when I would bring up, “I need consistent love, and respect, and attention, and romance, and yada yada yada.” And I was always confused on why he thought he was doing everything I was asking and giving his best, but I still felt on an island and that I was the only one leaving with something to work on. It was a recent, and frankly – very uncomfortable, conversation that the veil was ripped off. I realized that the problem was mainly stemming from me. Now as a Leo, an only child, and stubborn individual such as myself, admitting I’m wrong and broken is not my strong-suit. I told him I loved him and wanted to continue this and that I would work on myself as hard as he was.
The following day was completely anointed and full of divine intervention. There was an article written by David K. William that I say I found, but let’s be honest – it found me. It made me stop and cry, mainly because I had no choice but to look at myself in the mirror and see who I have been. It created space for me to heal and start the journey. William goes on to say, “For all that someone is, love them. Appreciate them for who they are rather than for how well they fit your pre-existing fantasies of how things should be. This way you’ll free your heart from any anger or frustration and begin to love unconditionally, even if it has to be love from afar. When you love unconditionally without expecting anything, you’ll establish a special and rare relationship anchored on affection that is free and non-possessive. Your relationship will be pure and honest because you are not merely using another to satisfy general self-interested desires.”
Well…shit. If that doesn’t make you stop and think and cry like a baby, I don’t know what will. I realized several things about myself after reading this. I grew up in a divorced household, where my only examples of romance were the romantic comedies that my mom and I watched. I created the expectation that fairy-tales are real…that my love life would be a rom com, that I needed to have a list of qualities that my partner would absolutely need to have. I remember a scene in Practical Magic where Sally casts a spell of all of these unrealistic qualities in a guy so she will never get hurt and die of a broken heart. I feel like I was doing this with my qualities/expectations I’ve created to and added to over the years. Now values and what you stand for are another thing, but that’s for a different time. Bottom line, one person is not meant to meet all of our needs, and it’s time to pivot, ya’ll!
I always said that when I love, I do it unconditionally – but looking inward, that simply hasn’t been the case. When we can love unconditionally and “get rid of the list” (both for ourselves and for our loved one), we can truly lean into the present. We take the fear of getting hurt completely out of the equation. And while we still deserve special moments and deserve to be fought for, we need to reevaluate what this LOOKS like. I guarantee I have missed kind and romantic moments from my guy, because I was looking for something else. That’s not fair to anyone involved. My partner is not mine to own or to change. Jonathan Lockwood Huie says it so poetically as he mentions, “A wonderful gift may not be wrapped as you expect.”
It’s such an exciting and scary realization to lean into these things. I had so many affirmations following this all, one of them being a legit billboard that says, “Now, the work begins!”. Like, come on! Talk about a sign! This phrase is especially important to me, because this is what I felt God say to me when I came out eight years ago. I’ve always been someone who can realize changes I need to make, and can step in pretty quickly to make those changes. I’ve always been able to discern what’s working for me and what’s not. And the end of all of this, one of the biggest takeaways is that I need to love myself first – unapologetically and unequivocally. If we can practice this daily, then we don’t need anyone else to validate, to affirm, or to become our reason for happiness.
In closing, give yourself and others some grace and love. Get rid of expectations you have on yourself and others. Be present and enjoy every moment you have with those you care about and love. Every day is a clean slate, and the future will work out one way or another. Take a breath without expectations, and remember that change and happiness are choices! You’ve got this!