Causes Of Conflict:
Expectations Are Premeditated Resentments
Expectations can lead to disappointment because, most of the time, people do not live up to our expectations. No matter how well-intentioned they are, or how perfect they may seem in the beginning of a relationship, people are intrinsically going to let you down. Then what? If you have an expection of your partner, and they fail to meet it, you will most likely feel hurt, angry, etc. Your pain may even cause you to lash out at them. The stronger the expectation is, the stronger the reaction will be. However, it's not realistic, or wise, to completely get rid of expectations. Some expectations are healthy and serve to enhance relationships, such as the expectation that your partner won't lie to or cheat on you. However, as we will see, some expectations can definitely damage relationships.
When expectations go too far in a relationship, it's time to pay more than the usual attention. Unreasonable standards are a toxic form of emotional and mental abuse that can discourage you, and make you question your worth and capabilities. This is more than the occasional blowup from your partner about something you’ve done that hurt them. We all make mistakes. Without a doubt, some of the mistakes you make are going to hurt your partner, and it's natural for them to overreact at times. This is to be expected.
The toxic form of expectation ensures that no matter which way you go, you're always wrong. The unrelenting message is clear: ‘you're an utter, complete failure, and the way you are is not acceptable'. Nothing you ever do is good enough, or so you are told. And all the anger and resentment from your partner is completely justified by your (supposedly) bad behavior. In reality, no one is perfect (including your partner). It’s absolutely unfair and hateful for someone to expect perfection from you. If you find yourself on the receiving end of this dynamic, things drastically need to change.
⇲ action steps
• If you're being abused, you need to leave. If you're unwilling to leave, that's something to get profoundly curious about. Do you not think you deserve to be treated fairly? What's going on there?
• Only take responsibility for things that you did that were actually wrong.
• Recognize when there is an attempt to make you into a bad person for simple mistakes that your partner also makes (but doesn't take responsibility for, or even admit to).
• Lead by example. Practice generosity and forgiveness with your partner, showing them that you don't expect them to be perfect.
Hoping Your Partner Will Change
You thought he would eventually marry you, even though he said he didn't want to. When there's something deep down that you don't accept about your partner, you're wanting them to be different that how they actually are. You're wanting them to be the way that you want them to be. In short, you're resisting reality. The bottom line is that if you don't love someone for who they are, as they are, it's not real love. Of course, there's no obligation for you to love anyone. And even if you do love someone, there's no obligation to be in a relationship with them, or to remain in a relationship with them. The flip side of this is also true. You may expect your partner to stay with you because of everything you've done for them, but that's a farce. No one owes you anything, and if you're really in the relationship to give to someone, they should be able to accept your gifts and maintain their freedom to choose something else.
One of the more subtle ways of not accepting your partner and resisting reality is the act of trying to fix them. You may hope that one day your partner is going to transform into the perfect mate for you. All those annoying habits, moods, and blind spots will magically disappear and you'll be able to have the relationship you want. The problem is, that day is never going to come. Your partner is who she is. Her personality is the way it is. No amount of hoping or trying to change her is going to do anything. The end goal of any healthy relationship is love. That's why most people decide to participate in them. When your partner realizes that you don't actually love them for who they are, it probably isn't going to be a thing for very long.
⇲ action steps
• If you catch yourself trying to change your partner, look for ways to change yourself instead. Find ways to love the thing that you're trying to change about your partner. For example, if they get angry because you're ignoring them, instead of reacting to the anger and trying to make it stop, you might see that they are just pushing to have a deeper connection with you because they love you. The volitile situation can then be used as something to bring you closer together.
• If your partner lets you down, notice your feelings of hurt, anger, frustration, etc. Check to see what drives them. Do you expect that your partner won't let you down in that way? Is it something you're willing to compromise on?
It Wasn't A Real Relationship
Have you ever known someone who thought they were in a relationship when they weren't? I knew a woman once that had a 'boyfriend' that lived in another state. She had pictures around her home of them as a couple, doing couple things. They rarely communicated at all, but there were letters on the wall above her bed spelling out his name. She frequently talked about his upcoming visits, and shared her dream that he was going to move to the same town, so they could be together. It turned out that the whole story was just that, a dream.
After more than a year, she became suspicious and began stalking him online. It turned out that he was engaged to another woman in the city where he lived. Her expectation that he felt the same way she did, and that he was going to move to be with her, motivated her to ignore his actual behavior. He was just lying and using her.
⇲ action steps
• It's healthy to have expectations that your partner doesn't deceive you. That's why it's so important to pay close attention to the way they behave. If you're frequently getting blown off, and shown that you don't matter to your partner in so many ways, then you shouldn't listen to their promises that they're going to show up for you.
Some people will come right out and tell you their expectations for the relationship. Statements such as "I never date longer than ___", "cheating is a way of life in my culture", or "I'm going to hurt you" should absolutely be taken seriously. People's expectations drive their behavior. Assuming that you're going to be the exception to their rule is dangerous, and reckless. You're putting your precious heart on the line, despite the fact that the game is rigged from the start by your partner's expectations. The problem is not choosing to be vulnerable. In order to have a relationship, you always have to accept the risk that you could get hurt. Things get more risky when we decide to be vulnerable with someone who doesn't deserve it.
⇲ action steps
• Listen carefully for your partner's expectations, and don't ever assume that you're going to be the exception.
• If what they say were to come true, would you still want to be with them? Cut your losses and get out before it's too late.