07 Aug Love Can Be Great- Here are Ways to Make It So! (Part 1)
Benefits of this article: If you’ve been in love, are in love, or want to be in love, you probably know how marvelous and unsettling that situation may be. To ease and enrich your way, I offer suggestions and ideas about what and why that is, based on my rueful and joyous experience as well as study. I think understanding and accepting the complex, messy opportunities and challenges of even a good loving relationship contributes to avoiding or minimizing dangers. That also promises growth and delight, often resulting in win-wins for partners willing to collaborate (most of the time!). I hope you find assistance and inspiration here, adapt what calls to you, and add better ideas related to your special situation.
Progress starts with you and your smarts. I believe smarts include emotional and interpersonal savvy, intuition and intellect ─ all of which I bet you have. You can also integrate insights from experience and conversations with people you respect and trust. For example, identify repetitive patterns in your relationships that you want to adjust or let go now and for the future. Also, choose how you want to improve and nurture pleasures and joys you’re lucky enough to have now or can strengthen.
True safety and stimulation rarely reside in repeating the same ole stuff ─ may be the short-term comfort, but not long-term growth and enjoyment. Then, be the yeast for making accurate assumptions, valuable standards, and effective processes rise upward for you and your partner. Let these possibilities emerge first from within yourself where you have the most influence.
Since expectations affect verbal and nonverbal communication, goals, and action, clarifying them first for yourself can save time and avoid misunderstanding. Then you’ll be prepared for finding bridges between what you want and the needs and interests of the person you love. Are you willing to specify your main ones to yourself first before being open about them?
Clarify expectations together. I sense you both have discovered that expectations may be inspiring, useful, or oppressive (especially if you a perfectionist). When they’re unrealistic or inauthentic, beware. They waste time, limit effectiveness and eventually weaken self-confidence because there is no assurance you’ll get what you truly need and want, in spite of your efforts and what others do for you. On the other hand, authentic, shared, and attainable expectations can be good catalysts for growth and pleasure for yourself and your partner.
Dangers lurk especially in covert expectations based on hoping someone will imagine what you want. Although risk of rejection or indifference may be avoided, a window to satisfying intimacy could be achieved. Overt expectations do not have to rely on someone else’s clairvoyance, empathy, or imagination. They are expressed so that interests and goals are clear, resulting in better chances for exploration and eventually the desired result.
Be alert to any expectations weighted with entitlement, with assuming something is deserved. Listen for a whine in your minds and voices. That often turns off the potential giver.
Finally, imagine what your partner can do and wants to do. When there’s a good match between your expectations and their capabilities and motivation, naturally the possibilities for support improve. That may also be a way to confirm or at least simulate what you want. But what good is that if focus is only on your needs? The challenge and opportunity is to find that sweet spot where you and your love are in sync. Maybe replacing “expectations” with “hopes” will be gentler and more encouraging.
As you clarify what each of you want, also ask how reasonable and viable expectations are. To test this, first, consider what really needs to be done to promote such outcomes. Then, explore:
- Is it fair?
- How is it beneficial for everyone?
- Is it possible?
- Are the incentives appropriate?
- Is it worth the effort?
At the same time, be alert to the power of negative expectations that may be harbored. Often based on stereotyping and other assumptions, anticipating the worst or thinking badly of someone can be projected in your own behavior and communications. Such a pessimistic imprint can result in a self-fulfilling prophecy that’s a lose-lose situation for everyone.