“What Should I Do About My Unrealistic Expectations?”


Unrealistic expectations are held by almost all of us, myself included. After my recent posts on how to get rid of unrealistic expectations and managing relationship expectations, I received a message from a reader. With the reader’s permission, here is the message and my response. To the reader: many thanks for allowing me to share this!

We hope this honest sharing helps anyone else who is experiencing the same issues with unrealistic expectations.

Reader’s Question

“For the past few years, one of my highest priorities has been finding the person who would make me happiest and to share my life with. Now that I have found someone who is beginning to fulfill this want, I have found that it has become (scarily) my highest priority to nurture and preserve this relationship.

He is very much an individual who has his own goals and dreams for his life.  He enjoys his alone time and hobbies as much as time with friends, family, and myself.  He tells me he doesn’t like to put his priorities in a list, but to explore them all equally.  He intrigues me so deeply because we are so vastly different.  He is so much his own person, whereas I feel like I am beginning to depend on this relationship in an unhealthy way.  Even a month into this, I am beginning to set unrealistic relationship goals such as talking about the future and even giving commitment hints.  He tells me this is beginning to scare him, even though he was first to say “I love you”, and that he tells me constantly that he wants to move to the city so that he can be closer to me.  He also tells me that he would look forward to us moving in together at some point in the future.

Over the past two weeks, we have been arguing at least once per day about where we both want this relationship to go.  He tells me he loves me deeply and I make him happy, but that he doesn’t know if he can give me the happiness I so desperately seek. He also says that he doesn’t want to be the only thing that makes me happy.  He told me last night that he asked his mother for advice, and she told him he is not responsible for my happiness, and that perhaps we are taking things too fast.  When we are together and not arguing, we connect so deeply and have such great fun.  I love him – I really do.  I love his personality, how good of a person he is, and just the way he looks at me in general.  I don’t want my unrealistic expectations and wants to get in the way of what could be a wonderful relationship.  What should I do? Please respond and help me if you can.”

My Response

Thank you for reaching out to me and sharing your life so honestly. Please bear in mind that I’m not a professional counsellor and this reply is just my individual view.

As I read your email, I felt that I identified closely with both you and your partner. I’ve been in your shoes – wanting a relationship very much, afraid to lose him, living in the future that seems so uncertain. I’ve also been in your partner’s shoes – treasuring my freedom, fearing commitment, and taking one day at a time. Sometimes I experience all these feelings at the same time! So don’t worry, it’s very human 🙂

It’s very difficult to let go of expectations you have of the future and of your partner. Still, it’s the one thing that improved all my relationships tremendously, and also the quality of my life and happiness. On this point I agree with your partner, that we are responsible for our own happiness. Allowing our happiness to depend on someone else will make us miserable since we can’t control another’s actions. It also places a huge burden on the other person to make us happy, a burden that is not fair because no single person can fulfil all our needs.

Here’s what I would suggest:

1) Try to live in the moment. Not everyone has the blessing of being with a person who loves them. Those of us who do are very fortunate. Since the future is uncertain (I tell myself that either of us could die tomorrow due to accidents and such) we cannot know for sure that we’ll have this moment tomorrow, so enjoy it while it’s here. Whenever you find your mind wandering into the future, bring it back into the moment and enjoy it, whether you’re with him or doing something else in your life. This moment will never come again. Live it to the full.

2) Be grateful for what you have. It’s very human to desire certain outcomes. Only those who learn to be grateful can escape the never-ending spiral of wanting more rather than being happy with what we have. And we have so much, if only we had eyes to see. Whenever you find yourself wishing for more in the relationship, shift your focus instead to what you already have, and count your blessings. Doing this will enrich not only your relationship but your life, as your entire attitude changes.

So next time you’re about to get into an argument with your partner over what you each want from the relationship, just take a deep breath, remember that you’re together in the moment, and be grateful.

Update

Here’s the reader’s reply to my response:

“Thank you so much for the advice! It helped immensely, and after also speaking with a close family member, I’ve decided to try my hardest to reduce my expectations and see where that takes us.  I’ve also decided to live in the moment and I’m going to show my boyfriend just how much I love and care about him.  You have helped me see just how much I stand to lose, and that I should be so grateful as to have a boyfriend who loves me unconditionally.”

Do you have a question?

I love hearing from readers. Readers’ comments and messages are my best source of inspiration! If you have a question or a topic you wish me to write about, please leave a comment after this post, on my Facebook page, or contact me here.

This is Part 4 of the 4-part Managing Expectations series:

Part 1: Let Go of Expectations
Part 2: How to Get Rid of Unrealistic Expectations
Part 3: Managing Relationship Expectations
Part 4: “What Should I Do ABout My Unrealistic Expectations?”