Last week I told you that to be happy in your life and relationship, you needed to keep your standards high and your expectations low. We went over how to identify your standards and how to keep those boundaries.
This week is all about those pesky expectations in your life and relationship and how, if you’re not careful, they’ll keep you unhappy and disconnected, no matter how great your relationship actually is.
If you’ve ever been disappointed or frustrated, your expectations were too high.
Here are the 4 key mistakes people make when it comes to expectations, and what you want to do instead:
Mistake #1: They Judge the Relationship
I find that the issue is that people have tons of judgments about their relationship and how things “should” be that show up in their too-high or ill-conceived expectations.
What to Do Instead: Identify Your Own Definition of What Works
What’s great is that relationship studies over the last 20 years have found that the expectations of both men and women have been changing quite a bit. We’ve become less rigid and less focused on the Ozzie and Harriet role models of the 1950s (hell, who even remembers them anymore?)
Mistake #2. They Listen to What Others Say
Be careful about listening to what others say is the “right” way to live in your relationship. Just because something works for others, doesn’t mean it’s right for you. It’s easy to get caught up in what our parents or friends tell us. But, at the end of the day, you’ve got to listen to your own heart and instincts.
What to Do Instead: What Other People Think is None of Your Business
You need to find what works for your relationship without focusing on what other people might think. What other people think of you is none of your business.
Mistake #3: They’re Fish Who Don’t Know They’re Wet
Lots of people have all kinds of expectations, but don’t realize that’s what they are. They just take it for granted that “anyone would think this way” or “any sane person would agree.” Nope.
What to Do Instead: Make the Implicit, Explicit
What other expectations are you carrying around about your relationship? We often don’t know what our expectations are until certain situations or life circumstances present themselves.
Mistake #4: They Expect Their Partner to Make Them Happy
If there’s one expectation that seems to permeate every romantic relationship it’s the feeling that your partner should make you happy.
This seems to stem from the fact that most people think that other people can make them feel a certain way. It’s so common to say things like, “She drives me crazy” or “He made me so mad” because, despite all the stuff we know, we still think it’s possible for other people to “make” us feel things.
What to Do Instead: Don’t Lose Yourself
I know it’s hard to pull yourself out of this cycle or way of thinking. There’s only one way I know of to make sure you don’t get (or stay) pulled into this unhealthy behavior. It’s by not losing yourself. At the end of the day, you need to come first. Remember that if (God forbid) you’re on a plane that’s going down, you’re supposed to put the oxygen mask on yourself first before you put it on anyone else.
Don’t forget that you are not two people – you’re not a couple – you’re just yourself.