Expectations Are Everything: 3 ways that your expectations might be hurting your relationships
This week there has been a lot of buzz from Jade Beall’s “A Beautiful Body” Book Project. As I, like millions of others, took in the gorgeous images of the mothers’ in the book with the curves, marks, puckers, and folds brazenly and respectfully revealed, it struck me how our expectations of what these bodies might or should look like deeply and profoundly affect our experience of what they actually are.
The images that are splashed on magazine covers, billboards, and in social media of celebrities “baby bump” bodies, we all know, are digitally altered. And yet, these images give us a quiet template where we drape our expectations of how things should be in our own lives.
These images, like storybook fairy tales and Disney movies, color our perception of the world.
Similarly, we measure our relationships with a yardstick of how we expect or think that our relationships should feel. This yardstick is usually an amalgamation of family stories, movies, books, fantasy, friends’ experiences and what we see on Facebook. On top of that, there are numerous relationship myths that many of us adhere to which further complicate our relationships.
Here are three ways that your expectations might be hurting your relationship:
#1 You don’t even know what your expectations are.
Some of your most important expectations are unspoken…and unknown even to yourself! Sure, you want someone who is kind, loving, compassionate, fun and respectful. Now spend some time getting very clear on HOW you feel their kindness, love, compassion, fun, and respect. What specifically do you expect them to do, say, express or feel? Have you ever requested this in a — now this is important — kind manner without demands, judgments or accusations?
If you are married or in a committed relationship, what roles, tasks, or responsibilities do you expect one another to keep? Have you discussed these with one another with clarity and transparency? If you haven’t now might be the time to do so!
#2 Your expectations are inflexible.
Often it is not until you are in a committed relationship that you realize just how many expectations you have of your partner. Or how many they have of you! It is common to feel some resentment, anger, and frustration when it seems that your partner is trying to change who you are. You might not even realize what expectations you have for your partner until they start failing them.
If you feel yourself or your partner being rigid about some expectations, there may be a deeper issue here. This is common and with the help of a therapist, consultant, trusted mentor, or spiritual teacher you can often get to the root of this “stuckness” to open to real transformation.
#3 Your expectations are unfair.
Quick. Make a list of the five things that you want or feel that you need from your partner. Really. Do it right now.
Now, look at that list and honestly ask yourself, “How do I give myself each of these things?”
“How do I show myself love? respect? compassion? trust? forgiveness?”
It is unfair in our relationships to ask someone to give us what we cannot do or give ourselves.
If you want more guidance on relationship expectations, give me at a call at 720.457.3342. I love this stuff and love guiding people like you through the process.
Jenny Glick, MA, MSC, LMFT is a licensed marriage & family therapist and transformation advocate in Denver, CO. Ready to see if Jenny can guide you through this transformation? Click below for your free 20-minute consultation or to schedule an appointment.