Gift For Rushing Readers: at the bottom of this article there is a fun infographic just for you. Share the living hell out of it!
Some of us have a close relationship with Disappointment. True, true, we all come to know disappointment in our lives. But some of us know it better than others. It’s as though Disappointment is stalking us. It crowds our personal space. It mouth breathes. It eats the cookies we planned to pig out on and it puts the package back empty.
And for some of us, Disappointment has a special preference for getting elbow deep in our love life. Sure, maybe we get involved with exciting people. We have whirlwind affairs, for a while, things look great. We cross our fingers “This could be it!” we shout.
Then it crashes, burns, and Disappointment belches in our face.
We’re left wondering what the hell just happened and how the hell we got here. AGAIN. If this is you, the great news is there’s something you can do about it.
I, too, once had a way too personal relationship with Disappointment. So close, in fact, I can describe its morning breathe and the broccoli in its teeth.
The biggest mistake we make when trying to rid our love life of Disappointment is we try to change things. Or people. Or the way we talk. If you try to fix Disappointment by changing things outside you first, the results will always be…well, disappointing..
There’s another way that works. If you’re willing to do the work.
So today, boys and girls, we’re going on a field trip. Yay! We love field trips, right? We’re going to visit someone who’s about to change her relationship with Disappointment. She’s going to do some major deep work. She just doesn’t know it yet.
Let me introduce you to a friend of mine…she’s not me. Let’s—uh—let’s call her Princess LoveCookie. Because.
So Princess LoveCookie is a nice person. The problem is, she thinks there’s only one way to have a happy romantic life and that is—badly. She’d like it to be another way, but she gets shafted every time.
Let’s say she saw her parent’s divorce and it left a mark on her. Let’s say her father got remarried quickly and started a new family that she never really felt part of. Princess LoveCookie harbors an abandonment story that she’s not even aware she has. Like anyone else, she still desires intimacy.
A Tale of Two Cookies
Princess LoveCookie starts dating.
She meets love interests but struggles to show her authentic self to them. In fact, she only gets so far in relationships no matter how promising they are at the beginning. They fizzle. The guys are only after one thing or seem to be interested and then lose interest. When they start to withdraw, she rushes in, panicked. She already knows where this is going. F**K!
Men must want less close relationships, right?
Because she’s also Princess SmartCookie, she adjusts her approach.
At first she tries being nonchalant. She engages in casual sex from an inauthentic part of herself. She attracts attention. When a relationship develops, she has to put her need for affection and acceptance in the other room.
The cookie still crumbles.
She doesn’t know why it crumbled. She never gave this guy any reason to leave. She was a totally cool girlfriend. She looks in the rearview mirror and sees times her lover had tried to connect with her. There were times he wanted to talk and know her real feelings, but she missed the signs. Maybe that’s why he left.
Princess LoveCookie changes things up again.
This time she tries to connect with the next Mr. Love. She puts herself out there and gets a mixed bag. Sometimes Mr. Love gets where she’s coming from. They have ecstatic moments of attraction and understanding. This could be it!
Then, it falls flat. She gets nervous. She’s afraid of those moments because when Mr. Love gets quiet, it feels too much like withdrawal.
The Fault In Our Expectations
Our princess tries even harder to make things work. She dances in and out between connecting and playing it cool. Things go a little further but then they peter out. Eventually, Mr. Love doesn’t connect with her at all. Even over the things he used to connect with her about.
This failed romance hurts more than the others because it looked like things were changing. She was getting somewhere. She stayed in a relationship longer. She put herself out there.
She’s beginning to think that she’s not cut out for the relationship of her dreams.
Poor Princess LoveCookie. 🙁 Truth be told, Mr. Love may not be rejecting her at all. He’s probably scratching his head, too, wondering why things went south. He doesn’t seem as torn up about it as she is. She tries for closure, he says “let’s see other people.”
There’s nothing wrong with Princess LoveCookie. She’s a nice person. She works on herself and will make someone a great companion. It’s her expectation that isn’t working for her. Don’t get me wrong, she doesn’t expect Prince Charming. It’s that she doesn’t understand abandonment.
Her parents’ divorce isn’t something she thinks about this anymore. Yet it is a player in this parade. Deep down, she doesn’t understand why her Dad was able to move on so quickly from her life.
She remembers her mother with her head in her hands. She remembers the years her mother stopped laughing. Why did he choose happiness with someone else? Why didn’t he care about their happiness? She stopped trying to understand this years ago, she’s grown up, she’s moved on, right?
But underneath that grown up exterior there is a little girl who is still hurt and confused. That little girl is Princess LoveCookie’s first feeling of abandonment. Whether our Princess realizes it or not, that little girl is in charge of all of Princess Love Cookie’s feelings and thoughts about abandonment.
Because Princess LoveCookie doesn’t understand it, she expects that this is something that can happen to her, too.
And she’s right, it can.
But she also expects it’s something she can avoid. She’s so busy trying to not be abandoned that she doesn’t know how to connect with someone. She doesn’t know how ride out the waves of things working and not working by detaching from the outcome.
She can’t avoid abandonment because abandonment has nothing to do with her.
Okay, maybe she knows on a grown up level that her dad leaving had nothing to do with her. But in her heart, she still operates as though abandonment is something she can create or stop. This deep, instinctual belief goes beyond corroding her self esteem. It screws with every single relationship she has and robs her of her true potential.
When things fall flat in her relationship, she doesn’t interpret those events for what they are: areas where they don’t connect. She interprets those as moments where she staved off or invited abandonment. She’s left thinking “where did I go wrong?”
Sometimes, when she’s really honest, she’s tried to fight for relationships that weren’t right for her. Maybe deep down she just wanted the chance to say someone didn’t abandon her.
Go Deep For Disappointment
When people talk romantic expectations, they address things that I would call unrealistic perceptions. We all have them and grow out of them.
For instance, thinking that your partner will never disagree with you. Or thinking that they’ll support every decision you ever make. These unrealistic expectations are important to address and at some point we’ll deal with these in other articles. But I wanna take you deeper ‘cuz I know you can take it.
We have DEEP expectations. Expectations that are formed by real life events whether they be good or bad. These Deep Expectations cloud our true potential. They stain our future with our past. Because we’ve been living with that view for so long, we don’t even know we’re looking through grimy lenses.
Because of Princess LoveCookie’s Deep Expectations, she’s taken emotional hits she doesn’t have to take. She short changed herself when she tried to be nonchalant with guys she really like. She put energy into relationships that weren’t what she wanted to begin with. All because of a deeper expectation that she felt was on the line.
This is what Princess LoveCookie is dealing with, my friend. The minute she takes this on, she will change that long term relationship with Disappointment.
When she does this, the real her emerges. She’s no longer afraid to tell that guy that she doesn’t like pie. She turns down someone she knows isn’t looking for the same thing that she is. She feels free. She’s free to find the right person and let the rest go.
The Head Bone’s Connected To The…Heart Bone.
Okay, here’s a recap:
- Even if you’re grown up, you have deep expectations that shape your love life. These expectations may be based in real events from the past, but if you look closely, they aren’t realistic. They are ideals, even if they’re negative ones. And they dominate your love life when you’re not looking.
- Relationships run on Connection. Connection happens in the present, not the past, and is based on both people being on the same page. Whether you’ve known someone for 5 minutes or 50 years, this is always true.
- Expectations of any kind can destroy your view of reality. They give you a drastically different agenda than whomever you’re trying to connect to. Then, it undermines your ability to connect with them at all. You are on a island, floating away from that other person, even as you try to reach out.
- Because of this, expectation ends in disappointment.
The Makeover —Breaking Up With Disappointment
To get to the bottom of disappointment you’re going to have to do some stalking. Check out your past. Particularly the moments where strong emotions occurred. How did this make you feel? How’d it make you feel about yourself? Positive experiences can be just as detrimental as negative ones. (Remember the little league trophies you get just for existing? Yeah, turns out real life’s not like that.)
If you’d like a little extra support, insight, and company through this process, I’ve got great news for you. There are some fun things coming up the pike for A Very Zen Romance that I just know you can be a part of. You can hit this fancy link and sign up for specialness in your inbox.
No matter what your relationship status is, you have an ongoing relationship with yourself. I can promise you this; when you work on becoming aware of and releasing your deeply held expectations, your connections with other people will improve and get rich rich rich.
Expectation leads us away from the present and lodges us in the battles of our past. The present is where we are at our most powerful and our most joyful. The present is where our relationships are their most powerful and most joyful, too.
Be well. Hope to see you around.
P.S. Because there aren’t enough infographics in life, we’ve included a fun one just for You. Now. SHARE WITH THE WORLD! It also has a few short cuts to helping you deal with expectation. We’re all about short cuts here.