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“I cannot be in a relationship with him because he disappoints me.”
What a genuine statement and how readily I agreed with my friend when she stated this in response to my question about her relationship with a male friend.
“I put expectations on men.”
Ah, yes! Brilliantly said, and I so related more to her statement.
When it comes to relationships, the myriad of guidance and advice is highly conflicting.
On one hand, we tell others not to expect anything from anyone because when we do, we are ultimately responsible for our disappointment.
On the other, we tell others to communicate clearly what we need and set firm boundaries for successful relationships. Isn’t what we need a proposed expectation? An unwritten ask for the other person to follow through?
Then on top of that, we toss our feelings, emotions, and experiences in the mix. Our packed baggage is busting at the seams, and our future hopes are at risk, so delicate and fragile.
To hear my friend confidently state her reasons for not being in a relationship with this man, I found that I was moved by her words.
There was no summary of rights and wrongs or blame and hurt. There was no false hope or attempt to list how she could fix this desired partner—if only.
Instead, she boldly professed words spoken only by a woman who did the work.
A woman who loved and lost. A woman who tried and failed. A woman who was hurt and retreated.
A woman who gave her heart. A woman who loved freely. A woman who was generous in every way. A woman who would go to the ends of the earth for a loved one. A woman who any man would be a fool to let walk away.
A woman who did not bandage her pain with superficial dates or casual flings. A woman who did not blame her partners for hurting her. A woman who knew how to reflect, learn, and grow.
Yet, what should she or any of us do with all of this wisdom?
Isn’t it true that we are often disappointed in relationships? Isn’t that commonplace when we allow others into our life?
And what about expectations? If we expect nothing, isn’t that what we get—nothing?
It is true that our expectations can disappoint us, but that is only if they are unreasonable or set too high. If we expect things that a certain person isn’t capable of giving, that’s on us. But if we redefine what it is we expect from relationships on the whole, we will be much more likely to meet a person who can indeed meet those needs.
To those who love so generously, often denying your own needs or settling for less than you deserve—be smart and don’t commit to those who disappoint you continuously.
If you know someone will let you down when it comes to matters that are important to you, how wise you are to move on.
And if your expectations are reasonable, please don’t slight yourself by thinking that you’re expecting too much. Maybe you are expecting too much from that particular person, but that doesn’t mean you should settle for less.
How will you know?
Here is a list of must-have expectations that you should never live without:
A lie is a lie, period. No spin. No rational. No reason. If someone lies to you, you can expect that will continue—so move on.
This can be as simple as good manners. Saying please and thank you shouldn’t be saved for special occasions, but be a way of life. Treating you with kindness and compassion, care and consideration. Honoring your boundaries, actively listening, and candidly communicating with you, expect this.
People who say what they mean, mean what they say. They call when they say they will. They show up when they say they will show up. And they are there for you when the chips are down. Expect nothing less.
Words can be beautiful and powerful, but actions speak much louder. Love is an action, a choice we make every day. A simple act, a kind word, and a loving gesture. Following through on promises and commitments. When a person lives with intention, you will know what to expect.
In love and relationships, we will inevitably endure disappointments. We can absolutely expect that. But never tolerate words or behaviors that are hurtful, cruel, or abusive, and if you have to question if it is—it is.
Level set your expectations, but don’t give up on them.