As children we first learn of the word expectation from our parents….well, we probably didn’t really understand what it meant when they shouted, “I expect you to be on your best behavior while we are in the store.” but we sure as hell knew that if we didn’t follow through with what our parents expected us to do we surely had something coming at the end.
Am I right?
“I expect this room to be clean by the time my soap opera is over, I expect that you will be on your best behavior while in church…or else. I expect all these chores to be done before I get home.”
I remember thinking my parents were slave drivers until I went to my best friend’s home and saw 2 pages of rules aka expectations her mother had laid out for her.
From 3:30 – 3:50 I expect the dishes to be washed.
3:51- 4:00 I expect the chickens to be fed.
4:01- 5:00 I expect all the laundry to be folded.
5:01 – 5:30 I expect you to make you and your brother Mac and Cheese. Nothing else.
5:31 – 6:30 I expect all the dishes to be washed and homework started.
and so on.
Now somewhere between my teenage years and my twenties I got wind of the power of expectations but now in my mid forties the power of expectations has lost it’s luster. We are told to have higher expectations, or that they are just too high, or it’s best not to have any or maybe just a smidgen. It’s like the adult version of Goldilocks and the fucking 3 bears but this time with a hell of a lot of mental masturbation added in just to make it fun. Life.
As an adult you’re expected to fit into a certain box, behave a certain way. You’re expected to live happily ever after with a loving (and not to mention LOYAL) partner and have children with a dog or two running about. That’s the expectations that we were fed when we were young by our parents, grandparents, stories, movies……….our imagination.
While maneuvering through the many up’s and downs of my own expectations when it comes to those that cross my path I’ve come to realize that I don’t have expectations of others, except to say that I assume all people are good until they have proven to be spineless, untrustworthy, toxic individuals. I’m more interested in how people are, than what I expect them to be. If you ever want to be disappointed by someone, set unrealistic expectations. Of course as you get to know someone you have a sense of what they’re capable of, but what if they are so good at convincing you that what they say or do is truly one hundred percent truth, some how sliding under your bullshit radar. What then?
Is it our fault? their fault? was it because we expected too much or maybe too little? Are we not supposed to believe in human decency anymore?
People with low expectations tend to be in relationships where they are treated poorly, and people with high expectations tend to be in relationships where they are treated well.
This suggests that by having high standards, you are far more likely to achieve the kind of relationship you want than you are by looking the other way and letting things slide. ~ Donald Baucom, psychology professor at the University of North Carolina
To put it another way, not having expectations means you can’t be let down. Being let down means something didn’t measure up to what you expected. So instead of being let down about something, I’d just be unsatisfied with the outcome. That may sound subtle, but it has a distinctly different emotional impact.
Expectations are what let you down, not outcomes. Outcomes just are.
For myself, I never expected to be divorced a third time I assumed that the wasband was telling me the truth and never in a million years did I think he was weaving a tall tale day in and day out until he locked me down. He expected a doting wife (which I was), he expected his coffee made by the time he walked in the house (which it was)…..he expected dinner, sex and more (done, done and triple done). All I expected was for him to be a decent human, to honor his promises. Was that wrong of me?
Hell, looking back at past relationships maybe instead of seducing them with lingerie and my homemade manicotti maybe I should have sat down and had the talk……..no, not about marriage or where the relationship was going…..no, I should have found out if we were even on the same page as far as expectations or no expectations. Considering my track record I’m thinking a mental evaluation should have been part of the program.
It’s difficult not to go into something without a smidge of an expectation but it’s how we react to being let down is ……. well, our doing.
Sure, I can remember a man that captured my heart …..he was smart, witty, we were a great team him and I. He made promises of a future, he made me promise never to leave him, he promised he never would leave either. Promises. Words. He said he’d love me forever …..was I wrong not to believe him? Was it wrong for me to expect him to keep his word……but when he vanished …….or when any of them vanished leaving their broken promises scattered about was that my fault as well ? Maybe so. Probably a lot so.
I’ve learned many lessons when it has come from expectations. I’ve replaced expectations with boundaries. I tread carefully now and follow my gut. This as well as other practices has served me well.