In Love with an Idea, Part II

About two years ago around this time someone said to me that she liked the fact that I had no expectations. We were in the early days of our relationship then and while I’m still not entirely sure what she meant by that, I suspect it had something to do with me not expecting us to be doing certain things[1] or for either of us to be fulfilling a particular role. We just acted naturally and were comfortable with whatever came our way. No pressure, no requirements, just a relaxed pace to our time together.

Unnecessary expectations may be tied to the appealing assumptions we make regarding someone to whom we know we are attracted but do not fully know.

Once the boyfriend/girlfriend exclusivity threshold has been passed, we assign different standards of behavior to the other person. These are expectations, and they vary from person to person. Perhaps it was the case that I had only the most essential expectations for our relationship: thou shalt not mug down with others, and thou shalt show affection often. Some people may extend these to more complex rules and regulations: thou shalt always call me at least twice daily, thou shalt have sex with me nightly.

Relationships work best when there is balance, and a balance of expectations is essential. However, for those of you who may find yourself discontent in your dealings with others (romantic or otherwise), examine your expectations and make sure they aren’t the problem.

Do I sound too much like Dr. Phil? I’m sorry. I just write this stuff as it comes and try not to judge it. Also a good way to approach a relationship…

1.) Maybe I wasn’t being pushy for sex.

4 thoughts on “In Love with an Idea, Part II”

  1. Unrealistic expectations really are a major source of dissatisfaction in relationships, and if you find yourself thinking, for instance, “This relationship is nothing like a John Cusack movie,” you should definitely examine your beliefs and try to bring them in line with reality.

    However, what you expect from a relationship is also an outgrowth of your values, and it’s perfectly logical to want your relationships to live up to those values. If your partner doesn’t share your vision of where the relationship is going, then that’s a sign that you may not be all that well matched.

    So what do you do if you find your expectations are the source of your discontent? If you examine your expectations and you find they’re unrealistic, then you should try to revise them to match the world you live in. If you think about your expectations and you find that they really do tie into something important, then you should talk to your partner. Otherwise, how are they going to know what’s going on?

    Neither of these approaches is easy, and they both threaten the status quo. If you’re too willing to revise your expectations, you’ll just end up feeling like you’ve settled. If you talk to the other person, you might find out the two of you completely disagree on where things are going and you don’t belong together in the first place. But things will never get better if left alone — you can’t win by doing nothing, and you can lose either way.

  2. Finally, someone pointed out that Colter’s monologues are reminiscent of a John Cusak movie. The first “In love with an Idea” post reminded my of the monologue that occurs towards the end of High Fidelity, in which Cusak has resolved himself to the idea of being in a monogamous relationship. Interesting the theme that flows through your musings on relationships is also reminiscent of Winterson’s writings. Written on the Body in particular come to mind. More practically, growth, whether it is at an individual or dyadic level, comes from honest communication and outlining of one’s needs in a relationship. As Heath points out, it is not easy to engage in such a dialogue.

  3. I didn’t intend to imply that Colter sounded like something out of a Cusack movie. I just picked the first actor I could remember doing romantic comedies. I suppose I could have picked Meg Ryan instead.

    The point I was trying to make is that you can’t consider your expectations in a vacuum; there are other things going on, and another person to consider.

  4. I got the point you were making. I spent 6 months in couples therapy being hit over the head with it. For the record, being compared to a character played by John Cusak is a bad thing, at least not for me.

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