The following quote gets floated around social media quite often, and it bothers me. In fact, I abhor it and call bullshit.
“The secret to happiness is to never expect anything from anyone, then you will never be disappointed.”
I read this and think, “That’s so sad”
Expectations are an integral part of all relationships, and here is why:
1. Your Happiness Shouldn’t Depend Upon Other People in a Relationship
Isn’t that something we learn in Happiness 101? Our happiness should not hinge on another person. This quote is essentially saying, don’t be tied to another person because they may disappoint you, and then you will be unhappy, essentially pinning the power of being unhappy on another person. This is not the yellow brick road to happiness.
2. Expectations Reflect Your Sense of Self-worth
Healthy, reasonable expectations in a relationship broadcast your sense of self-worth. I am worthy of being treated in a respectful, loving manner. By respecting yourself and setting realistic standards in the form of relationship expectations, you are creating the kind of relationship you want and need. A strong sense of self-worth among partners fosters sound relationships.
3. Expectations are Normal and Necessary
It is normal and necessary to have expectations from those in our lives. It is normal and necessary for those in our lives to have expectations of us. I expect that my husband will treat me with love, kindness, affection, and respect. He expects the same in return. There are times when we will argue and hurt each other’s feelings. Relationships are not conflict-free, but that doesn’t mean we throw expectation out of the window to simply avoid being hurt. Expectation is as much a component of a relationship as are love and trust.
4. Expectations Lead to Trust
When we set up realistic expectations of our partners, and our partner meets those expectations again and again, we will come to learn that they are trustworthy. We set the expectation, they meet it – therefore they are trustworthy. This fosters greater intimacy and a deeper trust as the relationship progresses.
5. Expectation is Communication
Outlining, defining, and communicating our expectations within our relationships is the only way expectations get met. They will not be met 100% of the time, but it is your responsibility to clearly communicate what you want and need within the relationship realm.
6. Throwing Darts at a Blank Target
If we have no expectations of our partners, how do they begin to guess what it is that we need or want? It’s like taking a job and not being told what your job description is – do I do this or that? How do I earn a raise? How do I get through my workday? It’s the same in our relationships. If I’m in a relationship with you and I have no idea what you expect of me, I am clueless about how to meet your needs or expectations. It’s like throwing darts at a blank target. There is no way to earn a score or hit the bullseye. How much easier it is if we have a fully adorned target with brilliant colors that advertise where to take our best shot.
7. Being Expectation-less in a Relationship is a Lazy Person Magnet
If you set no expectations, you will only draw people who don’t want anything expected of them. They will disappoint, and disappoint, and disappoint because they have no interest in expectations. Without expectation, instead of finding happiness, you will spend a lot of time weeding out who belongs in your life and who does not. You will have no benchmark for who is capable of fulfilling your wants and needs.
Set out to realistically set those relationship expectations. If someone doesn’t meet those expectations, more often than not, they don’t belong in your life.