Expectations are not new. We are used to having expectations about everything in life. Whether it is expectations about the much-anticipated movie you are about to go see at the movie theater or the dinner party at your in law’s house. There are always expectations.
Sometimes expectations and requirements in life can be helpful. But sometimes expectations and requirements can be hurtful.
Having rigid expectations and requirements only hurts the people on the giving and receiving ends of the judgement. If you are currently single, think about the list of requirements you have in a potential partner. Is your list of requirements short or long? Are the requirements superficial or deep? Have you ever found yourself on a date, looking at the other person, mentally reviewing your list? You may be eliminating a great potential partner simply because he or she doesn’t meet some superficial requirement that you have predetermined.
Choosing a potential partner means finding qualities in another person you really enjoy and determining which other qualities you can tolerate and still enjoy the other person’s company. Sometimes it takes time to figure out which qualities you can tolerate and which ones are intolerable.
First dates are like auditions. You both dress nice, make polite conversation, and nicely sip your drinks in order to quell your nerves. But neither one of you are being your true selves. Unless you have magical super powers. Let’s be honest: if you aren’t nervous on a first date, then you aren’t excited and shouldn’t be dating. But if you are sitting there from the first moment tearing apart your date, then that’s also a bad sign. If you hate his teeth, the shirt he picked out, and the beer he chose then maybe you need to take the time to self reflect. It’s true that your date is probably also looking at the things you’re doing, but most likely the things he or she is thinking is likely positive. That is, unless they haven’t been getting positive feedback from you.
Some of you may be married or in another type of committed relationship. Expectations do not stop once you are in a committed relationship. A lot of these expectations are silent between the partners in the relationship. However, they are still persistent throughout the course of the relationship. Perhaps one partner expects the other partner to always do the dishes or expects certain routines. Maybe one partner is always expected to cook dinner or bathe and put the kids to bed. Unfortunately, silent expectations can make one or both partners resentful when these expectations are either kept or broken. By discussing expectations before anything seriously negative can transpire, we are able to salvage the emotional aspects of the relationship. Not addressing issues, good or bad, throughout the course of a relationship is dangerous. Any relationship is work. If you want a relationship to be successful, you have to be willing to do work. And work includes communication of expectations, even if the end result is a moment of anger before arriving at a compromise. Your relationship will be much happier if you are able to realize your faults and the faults of your expectations, rather than finding yourself lost in resentment and anger.