I used to be a hopeless romantic. I was in love with the idea of love.
I'd listen to R & B songs 24 /7 and always thought about love and romance.
When I went on a date with a guy and we hit off, my mind would go off running into fantasy land imagining an eternal love, passionate lovemaking and what it would be like to spend the rest of my with him.
Fast forward several relationships later, I realized that these fantasies destroyed the possibility of having a healthy relationship.
My fantasies and expectations led me to fall hard for men, placing them on a pedestal and expecting that things would turn out the way that they would in my head.
When I realized that they couldn't meet my expectations, I'd start to question the relationship and decided to leave them.
I made them wrong and always came to the conclusion that they were not a good fit for me.
I would be devastated when the relationship ended and the hurt only strengthened my expectations.
I would share what I was going through with my girlfriends who would happily cheer me on for breaking it off, telling me that "I deserved better", but none ever told me that maybe I was the one getting in my own way to "deserving better".
It's easy to point the finger at someone else when there's a problem and it's scary to look at ourselves and see if we may have had something to do with it, but if we want to cut out unnecessary drama in our lives, looking at ourselves is what's key.
Here are three expectations many of us have and how it can be destroy a potentially great relationship:
1. We expect that our partner will always be there for us no matter what.
The fact is that our partners won't always be there for us physically and/or emotionally. While partners can be of great support, that doesn't mean that they will always be there. They have a life of their own and are entitled to growing and evolving in life.
I became co-dependent in my relationships and lived in fear all the time. I would get attached and couldn't imagine my life without them. As a result, I ended up suffocating the relationship and feeling drained and burned out.
I didn't know what it was to be happy with myself and depended on my partner to bring me happiness.
FACT: No matter what the Hollywood movies show, nothing and no one outside of us can ever make us happy.
2. They should only have eyes for us.
This is a big one and it can feel the most threatening because after all, whether we realize it or not, the main part of a romantic relationship HAS TO DO WITH SEX.
Romance is just a lighter, fluffier, non-stigmatizing word for sex.
No matter how strong the relationship is, our partners and us are bound to be sexually attracted to other people.
Sexual attraction to others isn't the problem. It's what we do with it that matters.
For most of us, because of how we've been conditioned to fear sex and how little we understand our own sexuality, it's become a compulsion for us and we feel out of control when we feel a sexual urge that many of us feel conflicted and may act upon it.
Understanding ourselves is understanding relationships and until we do this, sex and sexual attraction will always be seen as a threatening force in our relationships.
3. Being in a relationship will cure our loneliness and boredom.
I believed this one for so long and ended up in unhealthy relationships because of it.
Chances are very high that the way we feel when we're single is the way we will feel in a relationship.
If we're lonely and depressed while single, we will feel the same way in a relationship.
Being in a relationship is meant to inspire us to grow and evolve, but we still have to do the solo work to develop ourselves, not our partners.
So what can we do now that we see the reality of romantic relationships?
I believe that they while they are not necessary in life, they can be beautiful once we set aside expectations.
How is it that we can set aside expectations?
1. Put yourself in their shoes.
This can be challenging because it's always easier to react instead of respond, but taking the time to stop and think about why someone would do what they did or what they do can help us not feel so hurt and consider a different way of looking at things.
2. Shift away from thinking that our partner is the be-all and end-all for us.
Idolizing our partners may sound beautiful and like love, but it's far from it. There's no one human being that can ever be everything to us and that includes our partner. Holding them responsible for our emotional well-being at all times will only lead to disappointment and suffocation in the relationship.
What is a realistic expectation to have in a romantic relationship?
That our partner cares about us and has our own interests and values at heart and are committed to that no matter how it may show up in the relationship. Our only job is to trust that. That's it.
We are so consumed with our romantic relationships bringing us happiness that we forget that we are already in relationship with every human being we interact with, we just tend to consider the sexual ones the "real" relationships.
My entire view on relationships has evolved when I started to challenge my own thinking on what love and sex really are about (they are 2 very different forces, but that's another post for another day!) and although I'm happily single, my connections with men now have become richer, deeper and I no longer depend on someone else for my happiness.
Most of my painful experiences resulted from expectations that I had and when I was able to question them, I saw the reality of how much I contributed to my own hurt.
What are some expectations that you have had that may have hurt your relationships?