Thursday, August 05, 2004

Expectations

You know...

I think that half of all the problems in relationships are caused by misguided/unwarranted/unrealistic expectations.

People expect others to be a certain way, and when that doesn't happen, conflict ensues.

The relationship between my mother and her sister is at an all time low because their expectation of how the other should be, doesn't match up. My mother expects her sister to behave a certain way and when that doesn't happen, then it makes her upset. The same is true for her sister. She expects my mother to behave a certain way, and when that doesn't happen, it makes her upset.

Are their expectations for each other unrealistic? Yes and no. The way one expresses love doesn't match how the other thinks love should be expressed. They both love each other, but it's getting to the point where they can't stand each other.

My sister sent me an email on Monday, and because I didn't answer it by Wednesday, she jumped to the conclusion that I was ignoring her.... that I decided to stop talking to her. She expected an immediate response and when that didn't happen, it precipitated an apparent conflict in the relationship. She became angry with me because I didn't live up to her expectation. What she didn't take into account is that I've been away from the computer for two of the last three days and that I needed to consult with a third person before responding.

Even for myself, I find that expectations cause problems...

I find it difficult to even begin a relationship with a woman anymore because my expectation is that it will ultimately be more trouble than it is worth. In my mind's eye, I immediately jump two years into the relationship and see the complacency of taking each other for granted, numbing the relationship into an empty shell of what it once was.

Stupid?

Absolutely... cause you can't predict the future by looking into the past. But, I still do it... and it paralyzes me.

Now...

Expectations in and of themselves aren't a bad thing. People should have appropriately high expectations of the people in which they put their trust. If I'm going to put myself in the position of becoming vulnerable to you, then I expect you to act a certain way, be a particular kind of person. To gain my trust, you must be a trustworthy person. This kind of expectation is good.

So.... what is a good simple definition of a good expectation and a bad expectation? I'm trying to wrap my brain around it and I'm not quite there.

hmmm...

I suppose...

Bad expectations are those expectations in which you judge/interpret the motive of the other person's actions based on your internalized worldview of what those actions signify for your own motivation.

(i.e. belching at the table is either rude or complimentary depending on the culture, and to judge/interpret which it is for the other person based on your own culture/worldview leads to conflict)

and...

Good expectations are expectation of actions needed for healthy self preservation in relationships.

Yeah... I think that's it...

8 Comments:

At August 7, 2004 at 2:04 PM, Blogger Esther said...

my 2c's worth.
nothing wrong with expectations :)
it's how you deal with it when those expectations don't pan out that's the issue.
Many women expect the man in their lives to remember their birthdays.

 
At August 8, 2004 at 2:45 PM, Blogger TW said...

I agree with your final analysis of expectations. We get into trouble when we read others' actions as meaning what they would if we did them. Often times they mean nothing at all.

Also, I think the thing about expectations is that sometimes we have them but never share them with the other person in a healthy way. A great example is how women often expect men to just "know" certain things or we tell a man one thing, expecting/hoping he will do something different. Ex. "No, its fine if you go out with your friends tonight. We'll go do X some other time." All the while thinking, "He better keep our plans. But I'm not going to be the one to make him do it."

I sometimes wonder why we don't feel like we can just tell people what our expectations or wants are rather than playing the games we often do.

 
At August 10, 2004 at 12:48 PM, Blogger mona said...

it's amazing how you can damn a relationship by thinking it all the way through to its imagined ending.

then you're sunk before you even set sail (wow, bad imagery)

 
At August 10, 2004 at 4:58 PM, Blogger BG said...

Yeah... it's an "anti-Hollywood Ending" way of looking at things...

 
At August 13, 2004 at 9:52 AM, Blogger NML said...

I agree with you about expectations. I think that with women in particular or expectations for ourselves and what we want from the men in our lives have become a rod for our own backs. We've been taught to expect that we can have it all and that men are now 'new men', and the truth is we can't have it all, and the 'new man' doesn't exist. Hence our expectations are never met.

We should all have healthy expectations though. We must have our standards!

 
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