If your expectations aren’t met, you’re going to be disappointed, angry, or otherwise unhappy. For example, you and your significant other are getting along beautifully. You’ve had thoughts of marriage and you’ve had conversations flirting with the issue. Your birthday is coming and you think it might be a perfect time to present you with a ring. But the day arrives and your beloved gives you a spa weekend with all the trimmings. A great gift, right? But not if you were expecting an engagement ring.
No one can read your mind. If you expect people know what you want without your explicit instructions, you will be disappointed. Not even your significant other can know your needs and desires unless you tell him precisely, and even then, there’s room for misunderstanding. But chances are you made assumptions before your birthday. You assumed it was a great time to present you with a ring, but that’s not something everyone thinks. It’s what you think. If you want your partner to think the same, you need to discuss it. This takes away the surprise element you may have been hoping for, but it helps you manage your expectations.
People don’t do what you would do. People behave according to their expectations, not yours. Everyone is brought up with different values and beliefs. Maybe your significant other believes he needs to be in a romantic setting and is planning to present you with a ring when you’re hiking in the mountains. Maybe he doesn’t believe in marrying until he has his career on track, which isn’t quite yet. Maybe he doesn’t believe in marriage at all. There are endless possible reasons he didn’t behave as you’d hoped he would. Communicating with him about marriage is the first step to understanding what he thinks and how he might behave. And that will help you manage your expectations and minimize your disappointment.
You can’t know what people expect of you unless you ask. Your significant other may be hoping for some behavior from you to signal that he is safe to pop the question. He may be expecting a sign before he chances a negative reply. If you ask him what expects from you in your relationship, and specifically regarding possible marriage, you will have the conversation out in the open, with a much greater chance of managing your expectations realistically.
Be careful not to violate someone else’s expectations. It’s easy to do even when you don’t intend to. You and your partner need to identify and clarify your expectations. When he is hurt or you are hurt because your expectations are destroyed, emotions will flare. You both need to examine what’s happening, apologize, and make sure, going forward, that you have a clear understanding of each other’s expectations.
Check in on a regular basis because things change. Even if you have established what you and your partner’s expectations are, your relationship is a work in progress. It’s easy to keep going on the assumption that all is well until there’s a problem, which may blindside you. Explore what’s working and what’s not working in your relationship and do some fine tuning as you go along. You can identify potential problems before they become serious.
The crux of managing your expectations is communication. Keep being as open and honest with each other as you can and you are bound to have more realistic expectations of each other, and a healthier relationship.
Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here: https://nancyscounselingcorner.com/contact