Is it really a good idea to have any expectations?

14 Aug 2019
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This is a question I posed to myself whilst waiting for my flight home. My sleep-deprivation undeniably sparked a pensive mood within me; a question that I asked myself after getting off the phone to my boyfriend.

What if we have a less-than-touching reunion? My anxious brain panicked. I had this idea, I suppose you could almost call it a fantasy, in my head of us reuniting at the airport. Would he give me a long, warm hug and a passionate kiss? Or would it be a quick hug and a peck on the cheek?

The thought of the latter happening filled me with dread, and despair. I didn't want that kind of reunion. Then again, if we set up idealistic, or even realistic, expectations in our heads, are we just setting ourselves up for failure?

The thing is, thinking about it made me worried. I knew that if he came to meet me and it was anything less than romantic and affectionate, that I'd be bitterly disappointed and possibly a bit resentful towards him. I don't want to feel that way; after all, it's not his fault if he doesn't meet the expectations that I set up for him in my head.

But... if not his fault, then whose? Is it mine for setting up any expectations in the first place? Or is it rather a case that no one at all is to blame?

On the other hand, surely it's good to have some expectations in life? Having hope for how something, or someone, will turn out enables us to have some awareness of what's coming. This way, we're not completely blindsided by that something (or someone).

And yet... we still get disappointed and frustrated when things don't pan out the way we hoped.

So... am I completely irrational? Or am I making a mountain out of a molehill?

I'm actually amazed at myself that I somehow managed to in-still a feeling of nervousness and dread in to our reunion. I didn't want it to be mediocre, or not special. I want the long bear-hug. I want the passionate kiss.

All in all, is it a good idea to set expectations?

Tiffany

A Moodscope member.

(foot note: our reunion at the airport was very sweet and affectionate!)

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Comments

Bunnykins

Aug. 15, 2019, 4:36 a.m.

Morning Tiffany, I'm so glad your reunion was sweet. I feel that I've had too high expectations of people/ situations which has led to much disappointment! I was unrealistic for years. Now I am more realistic, don't expect anything from life and da-daa! No more disappointment.

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Katie

Aug. 15, 2019, 10:05 a.m.

I'm getting *more* realistic. But still plenty of disappointments. Any pointers Angela? Xx

Bunnykins

Aug. 15, 2019, 6:21 p.m.

Sorry for late reply Katie, I'm afraid I don't have any ideas, having made a mess of my life, just plodding along best you can ?

Katie

Aug. 15, 2019, 7:01 p.m.

Plodding is good enough for me Angela! I bet you haven't made a mess though. I bet you've done your best in tricky circumstances. ***

Bunnykins

Aug. 15, 2019, 7:54 p.m.

Thank you, people tell me I've done a good job bringing my Daughters up with little support. Their father used to call me a bad Mother; thankfully the one day he was tormenting me and something In my head said "you're NOT a bad Mother, HE is a bad father" But- I never said that to him. I don't have any contact with him at all now. They both have good jobs which my Sister says is down to my efforts.x

Katie

Aug. 15, 2019, 9:22 p.m.

Angela, I have experienced similar. Really, really awful. But here we are, with children thriving.

Shizzle

Aug. 15, 2019, 5:20 a.m.

Hi Tiffany and thanks for the blog. It’s a tricky question isn’t it. As I see it, the great thing here is that you were aware of your expectations and I try to be the same. If I have high expectations but know they’re high then I can either try to moderate them down or do everything in my power to meet them. So in your situation, realising how you felt probably helped you to put more effort into making the wonderful reunion happen, rather than waiting more passively to see if your boyfriend would meet your expectations for you. In the same way, I do like setting expectations because I feel they help me strive. But I’m lucky that I’m rarely disappointed in others. I feel great disappointment in myself and have to be very careful about the expectations I set for myself, but I can generally let others get on with what they want to do. So lovely to hear that you had the reunion you wanted!

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Katie

Aug. 15, 2019, 10:06 a.m.

Interesting shizzle. I think I'm disappointed in myself and others equally... Which is not something I like.

Molly

Aug. 15, 2019, 11:03 a.m.

Me too Katie xx

Rosemary

Aug. 15, 2019, 8:02 p.m.

Shizzle I'm with you, in that my highest expectations are always aimed toward me - I don't put nearly as much pressure on others as I do myself.... own worst enemies eh? :o) Having said that I do sometimes get saddened by what others are capable of, I just have to keep reminding myself that there's more wanting to do good than not. x

Andy

Aug. 15, 2019, 6 a.m.

"I think we're alone now." Cue THE Tiffany song! ;-) If ever a blog left you wanting more information it's this one! Love & light to you Tiffany & all best wishes for your clearly longed-for relationship :-) But.... your expectations, self-doubt & probably self-esteem issues too I'd say are DEFINITELY your issues. No one else's. I'm a great believer in creating my own 'future history' & in attracting the lady of my dreams into my life. But I do that from a position of what I WANT to happen, the TYPE of person I want to attract into my life, rather than focusing on things I don't want to happen. I guess it's a mindset thing Tiffany you know? I'd say relax hon, you've clearly attracted a fella into your life you care about. What could be better than that? Have a fab day. Andy heads off to YouTube to play THE Tiffany song! ;-)

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Clare

Aug. 15, 2019, 7:21 a.m.

Hi Tiffany, Thank you for your blog, I am sat here reading it thinking "been there, done that". I too have been the person that has expectations and I don't think that you are being irrational at all. I too like Angela have had expectations and become very disappointed and only last week it happened to me and the disappointment came......so this week I have decided not to have too high expectations and be realistic. I think with something like a reunion, you do want all hearts and flowers, the big hug and long kiss, but in reality does it happen??? Setting expecations can be good but you definitely need to be realistic and not be too disappointed if it doesn't turn out the way you want it. Don't forget, what you feel is romantic your man may not - you have to remember our brains work differently. Have a good day xx

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Oli

Aug. 15, 2019, 8:57 a.m.

Hi Tiffany, nice blog. Been there too. Me and my gf do a different approach these days: communication. I don't honestly know how this happened! And it's *way* easier in this relationship than it has been in others. I can totally imagine her texting me to say what she wants. (She has done this sort of thing too. We both do.) Does it take away spontaneity? Not so much that I care because you can still be spontaneous, but it definitely cuts down on misunderstandings, disappointments, and resentments. No one can read someone else's mind. Expecting mutual mind reading is only going to cause disappointment sooner rather than later. Much easier to say it clearly, especially if it feels important for whatever reason. :-)

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Katie

Aug. 15, 2019, 10:08 a.m.

Oli, wow. Your relationship sounds great.

Oli

Aug. 15, 2019, 10:35 a.m.

Katie, thank you for the smile you've given me! I think in reality all relationships have different characteristics and I guess in this one we've both learned how to do communication well enough. And what I appreciate most is the total absence of mind games. I definitely think that's great. But it's a long-distance relationship and we can't see each other as much as we'd like so that bit isn't so great. Hey ho!

Katie

Aug. 15, 2019, 11:24 a.m.

Well I think the foundations you have built sound brilliant so when you can see more of each other it will be amazing. Xx

Rosemary

Aug. 15, 2019, 8:08 p.m.

Oli, communication is definitely the key isn't it? Like you I think expecting people to be able to mind read is a dangerous path. After 30 years together hubby and I agree that we keep things fresh and ticking along nicely by keeping the lines of communication open. x

Colette

Aug. 15, 2019, 9:21 a.m.

Hey Tiffany. Yes, the anticipation can spark off just the same feeling of dread in me too, and then I catastrophise and start expecting the worst, and that mind frame then makes it more likely to actualise! But, may I suggest...why not eliminate the situation that’s causing you worry and go ahead and give him the great big bear hug and romantic kiss when you see him!? Start planning that in your mind, it’s far more positive energy for you too. And, if he doesn’t respond appropriately, then maybe you have an important decision to make, but don’t dwell on that before you see him, it might not happen. I’m sure he will though, respond with the same exuberance that is! Hope you have a joyful reunion!

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Maggie May

Aug. 15, 2019, 10:50 a.m.

Totally agree Collette. The days of needing to wait passively for the man have gone. Generally with expectations , I think that a positive energy will generate more positive outcomes. Unrealistic expectations are , however , to be definitely avoided.

Colette

Aug. 15, 2019, 6:11 p.m.

Hi Tiffany. My apologies! I clearly wasn’t paying enough attention to your post and missed the footnote! I’m very pleased it was a happy reunion for you ?

Katie

Aug. 15, 2019, 10:03 a.m.

Gosh Tiffany! This is the exact same thing I've been thinking about for the last couple of days. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Xx

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Katie

Aug. 15, 2019, 10:23 a.m.

I'm in a romantic relationship (kind of) in which I've repeatedly lowered my expectations over time. Which always causes pain when I do it. Afterwards I think some of the letting go of expectations has been freeing for me and helpful to the relationship. However I think I've done too much now and perhaps blurred the lines which show who is really invested and who is making effort. I'm speaking of a three year period. Xx

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Katie

Aug. 15, 2019, 10:24 a.m.

PS Tiffany, re above, kind of romantic, kind of in it, lol!

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Molly

Aug. 15, 2019, 11:13 a.m.

Hi Tiffany, thanks for the blog. I agree with others and have nothing much else to add, my mind is blank. I’m glad your reunion went well. I think he should picked you up and spun you round lol xx

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Monica

Aug. 15, 2019, 2:31 p.m.

"Expectations are planned disappointments"...this quote may have been attributed to Anne Lamott, but whoever said it was correct as so many of us have "expectations" we build in our heads about how to act when in a relationship. I've been guilty of creating those expectations, we all are and I often wonder how we humans have learned such a mental behavior when it's not very helpful in the face of actually communicating (as Oli points out!) with the people around us to let them know what we would like to see from them. Also, as someone who was raised in the shadow of Hollywood, I think we have been conditioned to believe the romantic movies as a template for what 'romantic behavior' is supposed to look like, but we forget to take into account if it's bahavior that is appropriate for everyone? Not all people are comfortable with a public display of affection in an airport! In the course of my training in the Grief Recovery Method, I learned that quote about expectations and it was an eye opener on many levels, from having expectations of behavior from people I didn't know very well, to people who acted a certain way all the time and wouldn't change, and in both cases the thing they had in common was ME. I could either communicate what I needed or let go of the hope for something better or different from some one who won't change. And asking for what we want is not always easy for us women who have not been taught to ask for what we want, to be passive in allowing things to happen for/to us. The thing about a 'planned disappointment' is that it causes us grief, and it often causes grief we don't even need to build into our lives. I've been meaning to read a book about love languages to find out what my personal love language is, perhaps you might find it interesting to find what language you and your boyfriend prefer? It might go a long way to stemming any future disappointments! Glad your airport reunion turned out well for you, and that you chose to share your expectations here, many readers have shared great comments about managing expectations and communicating, all of which is helpful in building a strong relationship.

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Katie

Aug. 15, 2019, 3:51 p.m.

This is very helpful Monica, thank you.

Rosemary

Aug. 15, 2019, 8:26 p.m.

Fab reply Monica :o) Do you have a title of the book you mentioned or are you going to look one up? I'd be interested in reading that x

Monica

Aug. 16, 2019, 5:49 a.m.

Glad my reply resonated for you =) The book is called "The 5 Love Languages" by Gary Chapman. A friend who is a licensed therapist has read it and she highly recommended reading it to find out my preferred love language. There is also a website where you can take a test to learn your preferred language and read a general overview of them. Hope you find it helpful!

Monica

Aug. 16, 2019, 5:54 a.m.

Glad you found my reply helpful Katie =) I think if we can learn to keep some elements of disappointment at bay, it will cut down feelings of unhappiness, which often adds to depression and we don't need to add to our depression, do we??

Rosemary

Aug. 16, 2019, 7:46 a.m.

Thank you Monica, I shall look that up ***

Rosemary

Aug. 15, 2019, 8:23 p.m.

Interesting blog Tiffany. I can often build something up long before the event to the point where I can become anxious with all the 'what ifs'. I have to take hold of my thoughts. So I quote the pythons to myself "Stop that, that's silly!" - the smile these words give me is often enough to diffuse my head chatter. I also like to change the word anxious to excited, so if I start thinking for example 'I'm beginning to feel anxious about this meeting' I say to myself 'I'm beginning to feel excited about this meeting' ...usually works for me. Thanks again for a thought provoking blog x

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Liz

Aug. 15, 2019, 9:40 p.m.

Hi Tiffany, thank you for your blog. I think expectations are difficult in the fact that the reality is often different. If they are the same as you had imagined/expected in your head, that's great... but I have been so disarmed by the unexpected. For example... the new friend that wants to be your best friend and is amazing....until you start to see them for what they really are.... the guy that leaves flowers, chocolates and a bottle of wine on your door step... the same one that left a box at your door step not that long ago with all the stuff that you gave him... the list is endless of all the people that have let me down. But double that, and you get all the people that I have met that have been simply wonderful. An expectation always sets a precedent... and if you don't know what the precedent is or might be, you're always going to wonder what height the bar is set at. My advice is.. burn the bar.... ditch the expectations and just live in the moment x

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Sally

Aug. 16, 2019, 6:04 a.m.

Hi Tiffany, didn’t get around to replying yesterday, so I hope you “turn back a page” maybe. I too missed the bit at the bottom initially but then reread and saw. Happy ending ! As far as expectations are concerned, years ago I was constantly expecting things to go according to my script, but I do less of this now! I had a sister-in-law who used to buy herself all the things she wanted for Christmas so that she wasn’t disappointed at what she received! My difficulties came from expecting my partner to be a carbon copy of me. So I’d agree with you that pinning your hopes on a set of circumstances happening leads to disappointment, frustration,and, in our case, arguments . One particular trigger phrase of his “ I assumed “ used to make my blood boil. “Why don’t you communicate ?!” I would whine. I realise some 40 years later that well , people come as they do....like it or lump it . If the positives outweigh the negatives, we accept it. If not, we scarper!

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