02 Aug What to expect in relationships
Firstly, what are you expecting? And what will happen if your expectations aren’t met?
- If we expect to be loved, that’s one thing (This may happen, not because you want it. But if they find it fitting in with the rest of their life story – like how you found them fitting in with yours. We can’t force this to happen).
- If we expect ourselves to be the only person to be loved the most by them – that’s another thing (That’s more like territorial rights. To own and to be owned is more suited for properties like cars and houses, not humans).
- If we expect them to change themselves, that’s a whole other thing. (Expecting people to be better versions of themselves, else we get upset. So, for the one mistake of loving us, they have to meet our demands for being accepted without any unpleasantness).
Starting with a generalised statement – as humans, we all expect. In relationships, more so. Be it a friend, spouse, parent, child, partner etc. It appears as if we get into relationships just to fulfil our expectations. Mostly, things start off on a rosy note where at least one of the parties is more than willing to oblige at the other’s behest. But if those expectations rise too much and get demanding, that willingness reduces. There is an amount of resistance that seeps in. There is a recognition of the need for freedom. And hence, friction.
Of course, our intentions are always good. But love isn’t only about intentions – it is about our actions and the effect that they have on others. Intentions don’t get us food on the table. Actions do. Likewise, in love, just having the right intentions may not suffice unless we learn to be balanced in our actions, words, and expectations. We expect people to change for the better only because it will do them a lot of good. But what if they don’t? Are we upset, angry, irritated? If so, then perhaps we need to change first!
I have had the pleasure and privilege of knowing a few people in close quarters who convey their expectations with such an air of pleasantness that one would be more than willing to cooperate. The things that make the difference are:
- They don’t harp on it. They don’t build a nest in your ears until you fulfil it. They don’t take it as an excuse to be angry or irritated. They take time to educate so that you make better choices.
- They gently create a compelling case for change by firstly, being a gracious example of it – and secondly, stating how beautiful your life would be if you considered it. They don’t tell you that you are going to be a failure or your life is going to be miserable if you don’t change.
- Thirdly, they don’t state it as a need for acceptance. Meaning – they aren’t placing conditions to accept you based on whether or not you fulfil their expectations. They love you regardless. And they are happy nonetheless.
- They see your strengths and goodness beyond their expectations. They aren’t blinded by what they expect in a way that they can’t see you beyond an expectation-fulfilling machine! They recognise your uniqueness, your gifts, and your priorities at all times.
- They don’t do dramas and hold you responsible for their misery at any point. They put themselves out of the equation. They want you to change for your sake. Not for theirs. And hence, they aren’t driven by an agenda to make you into something you don’t wish to be. They are respectful of your space.
As you read all this, if you are first thinking of those people around you who aren’t like this and they need to change – wait! That’s not the point. First, ask yourself, are you like this? If you aren’t what skills do you need to develop within yourself so that you can be this first? If you are feeling bad that others aren’t like this – then it is true of you too. Can you carry your own sunshine? If you are expecting some other sun to come and light up your life, it is such a high risk. You should know that it may happen, it may not – depending on the mood of the sun and the arrangement of other planets. However, if you can carry your own sunshine, you won’t have baseless reasons to be upset. You are going to find a happy state.
If you got into a relationship that is diametrically opposite of what you ever wanted – then instead of expecting the other to change, its time to look into the choices made and the learnings thereof. Take responsibility for whatever you can and be ready to do what it takes to help yourself without holding the other responsible for your misery or for your life.
Whatever you do, don’t have a sense of entitlement! No one in this world owes us anything! Ever! If they do something good for us still, it’s their magnanimity. If they don’t, that’s fine! No one was born to take care of us and our needs. Everyone was born because they have their own journey to travel and their own learnings to take care of. In between all this, if they are there for us, that’s great! If they aren’t, life is teaching us to mind our own business then. Life is teaching us to be more capable of handling ourselves.
Expectations are not a cause for misery. But constantly expecting our expectations to be met by others is! We are not entitled to be loved. We are blessed to be loved. We are not entitled to anything. Never feel that you deserve better – that sense of entitlement leads to bitterness. You may have given your 200% or your life to someone or something – but that’s because you wanted to, for whatever reasons best known to you – either because you loved, or because you expected something in return! But because you gave your 200%, you can’t expect others to reciprocate in the same way. Be grateful if they do. But not bitter if they don’t. Just like how we don’t give our 100% to everything every time, them too! Our priorities and values are not the same as others. That doesn’t mean they are mean or bad. That just means they have different priorities. I can’t make them demons just because I wanted to play God! I can’t make them look bad just because I want to mask my insufficiencies and make myself look good.
Trust that life is always handing you whatever you need to advance on your journey of self-discovery and spiritual growth. Be grateful when the sun shines while being aware that you aren’t entitled to it shining on you always. And if you liked it while it rained, you should be ready for the slush afterwards. Slush is not bad. It also dries up in due course. It’s all a part of the same beautiful earth. Reminisce the good times together. But don’t harp on it to be the same forever. If you aren’t ready to embrace change, you may not be fully ready for relationships yet. It’s good to be reasonable in what we expect – not just for others, but for our own mental sanity too.