What to Do With Your Expectations
The other day I had a session with a beautiful and courageous woman who had a big realization.
She realized that in romantic partnership, she comes in with a script for how her partner is supposed to respond to her. What he’s supposed to say, what tone she’d like to hear it in, and exactly what it looks like for him to “get it right.”
And yep, you guessed it. If he didn’t “get it right,” he was wrong.
Sound familiar? We all do this sometimes. I know I have.
She’d honed this script over many years so she knew exactly what she wanted. On one hand, her clarity is admirable.
But on another hand, as she so bravely discovered, it was a set up for her to feel disappointed and betrayed over and over again.
She and I are doing some powerful healing work around what it is she really feels disappointed and betrayed about, so that she can get even more freedom from this, but that part is between she and I.
I see this all the time when I work with couples. It’s so common that we have an idea of how our partner is supposed to be, what they’re supposed to say, or how they’re supposed to do it. Been there?
It’s like there’s a book called, “How Exactly to Be With Mary” as if there’s only one way.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to know what you want. But, when you’ve got that tight a handle on how things need to be, there’s no room for your partner to be who they are.
And then you’re not really in a relationship any more. You’re in some kind of a power struggle .
So, if you find yourself doing this and you can see the ways it’s negatively impacting your connection, you probably want to work on it.
Consider how you feel when your partner doesn’t follow the script. Angry? Betrayed? Afraid? Confused? Take a few moments to get curious about this.
Notice how that emotion feels in your body. Do you get smaller? Tight? Less present? Warm? See if you can map the bodily experience of that emotion. Do this all very slowly.
Now, does this feel familiar? Do you remember feeling this way before? When you were young?
Don’t try to answer these questions, but rather open them up and just see what awarenesses or memories or sensations come up. If you’re confused about this, you can always see a therapist to help you get more clear about the connections here.
If the feelings you feel when your partner doesn’t follow the script seem familiar to you, they probably are. And in present day they might have less to do with your partner and more to do with that old familiarity.
Practice this the next time you notice yourself expecting a narrow window of response from your partner.
And leave me a comment below! Have you ever caught yourself having a script for your partner and making them wrong if they didn’t follow it? Have you been on the receiving end of someone else’s expectation in this way? I’d love to hear about it.
And finally, I’d just love it if you’d share this on Facebook.
All my best,