Monday, March 31, 2008

How your expectations ruin your chance of happiness in relationships

Ever heard the Taoist quote ‘No expectations, no disappointments’ ?

I googled it and everyone seems to have a post about their own take on this philosophy of life.

Applying it to my life, I want to pin point the real dangers of expectations leading not only to disappointments, but to unhappiness, bitterness, anger and lost opportunities.

Of course, it all starts with me. I’ve been reading spiritual texts for years and understanding them differently for every experience that comes my way. This journal is kind of a sythesis of things I've read and know theoretically, and events that force me to put my ideas to the test.

What happened this time?

Let me ask you a few questions. What do you expect from your partner? What functions do they need to perform? What needs (of yours) do they need to fulfill? What words do they need to say?

There are books out there that say you have to know what you want, so you can get it. But if you know what you want, does any one really measure up to your list? Are you actually happy ticking of their successes from a list they doen’t even know they are fulfilling. And perhaps, you don’t even really know what’s on your own list.

Do you know what I mean?

Why does your partner have to be romantic, remember special dates, hold your hand a special way, remember to hold the door, listen and say the ‘right’ things? These are your expectations and your requirements. How about seeing the person as they really are, and trying to be open minded and tolerant and loving anyway. Even if they don’t fulfill your list?

Why am I ranting?

Because no matter how much I know, in theory, this stuff, I still fall into the trap of thinking and doing things that are contributing to my unhappiness.

First of all, I want to be happy. I do. I admit it. I want a life filled with happy, harmonious moments. And I resent the things in me, in my thinking, in my patterns that create pain, disappointment, unhappiness. Because these things are my own doing. Its my goal to make myself happy. Partly positive thinking. Partly no expectations. Partly seeing the reality (NOT my own projections). And mixing it with a big dose of tolerance, patience, understanding, compassion (feeling WITH action) and love.

All you need is love, love. Love is all you need.

And a great coffee shop.

So. The nitty gritty and what you’ve been waiting for. The gossip.

I thought that an ideal, loving partner SHOULD

- Hold me with passion

- Give me lots of presents cause they want to shower me in LOVE

- Admire me with looks and words

- Understand me

- Read my mind (like my female friend), just from a look

- Never ever say the words ‘you sound like you’ve got your period’

- Respect me by not flagrantly allowing smelly, noisy air to be released from their body’s orifices.

- Some exceptions to this rule due to unusual circumstances (IE see, I’m not unthoughtful)

- Not fall asleep within 5 minutes when they come to bed

- Always speak respectfully about me to his friends

- Never be interested (much) in other females (because I am enough and satisfy, of course, all his needs)

I won’t continue with the list, but you get the drift. Do you think anyone could really fulfill this list? And then, if they do, do you think it would make me happy?

I doubt it.

Laying it on the line. My partner doesn’t fulfill my wish list. Absolutely not.

But you know what? He’s a really great guy. And its in my power to love him, as Darcy says to Bridgett, ‘just as you are’. ‘Just as you are?’ YEP. To see the real person. To love him for him. Not because he does what I want. But to learn to love and like him for the person he is, not the person I want.

And honestly, this attitude isn’t really for him. It might benefit him. It might support him and help him to feel loved and accepted and it might make him a happier person.

The fact is, I’m doing it for my happiness. I’m happier when I am not judging him. I’m happier when I look at the ways he expresses his love in his way. I’m happier when I am patient and tolerant and forgiving for the little hurts (unintentional as they are). He might be thoughtless. He might be crude in the name of humour… but he is him. And the whole package is loveable. (Of course, if you look at the reality and honestly can not learn to love it - then errr, don't sue me for inciting you to break up your relationship, please)

If I can do this, cause this is all in theory so far, I think the world gets another merit point. We all move forward.

I say to Jett, don’t let the bad one’s win. If people are mean, don’t let them make you unhappy. Fight the mean one’s with love. And if you love, maybe they will be influenced by you. And then we'll win a point for the good ones.

1 comment:

Paul said...

Hello, Tiffany. First, a word of thanks for not only dropping by my blog, but for leaving a comment. Now, as you have a very interesting topic, I shall return the favor. :-) Hang on, this might be rather long-winded. ;-)

Spiritual growth, as I know it, is not an easy thing. It is, actually, quite painful at times. It's hard to let go of the ways that you've learned and to learn to , as Allen Watts calls it, to become the person you are.

Regarding expectations, yes, they certainly are the foundation for most pain. The Buddhists, to a certain extent, believe that attachment is the root of all pain. I interpret that as attachment to outcome, ways of thinking, etc. In other words, you feel pain when things don't work out the way that you expected them to. Right back to expectations.

My beliefs are more Tao-centered. I like the whole idea of the ebb and flow of life. Again, Taoist merely seem to take life as it comes and simply roll with the waves, "Good news, bad news, who knows.", rolling with the punches so to speak. My favorite book, which seems to explain it well is "The Tao of Pooh", an easy read, very well written, and a fun explanation of Taoism. I just like the whole yin/yang of it! ;-)

My wife, of 16 years, and I have been involved in spiritual growth for a few years. There have been many positive strides and there have been some intensely difficult times, yet the growth continues.

In looking at people like Ekhart Tolle, the most recent new age sweetheart, I don't think, at this point, I want his life. His life is about total peace and he appears to have it. Yet, he doesn't seem to rejoice in life, to have any joie de vivre, if you will.

I think that life is succulent and is meant to be enjoyed and squeezed for every drop that you can get. Also, I wonder if he has a relationship and, if so, what would be the point. Do they just sit peacefully and meditate together? :-)

I think that we participate in relationships to try to heal a part of us that seems to be missing. That's fine by me. Where the trouble starts is when we expect the other to do it for us all of the time. For the most part, my wife and I don't expect each other to do certain things, but we do them for each other because we like to and we know that it gives comfort to the other. If we don't get it, we are:

a) not afraid to ask for it
b) accepting when the other person is not in the mood to honor the request, which also helps the other by letting them find a way to comfort themselves.

OK, I've gone on much too long. It was a pleasure reading your blog. I've added you to my Google Reader. I'll be stopping by again!