Otherwise known as The Expectation. One definition of expectation is “a thing looked forward to”,which to me ultimately comes down to control. We expect our partners, our children, our parents, our friends, our coworkers, social media, to behave a certain way in order for us to feel okay. If everyone plays their prescribed roles then we’re good to go. However, if someone goes off-script we become resentful. Rather than owning our expectations we very often blame and try to manipulate towards our desired outcome.
I’ve experienced several situations where people clearly had expectations of how I should behave. “This is what friends should do”, “this is how girlfriends act”, “you don’t make eye contact with me”. Anyone who knows me well knows that I don’t conform nor am I burdened with being a people-pleaser. This doesn’t mean I don’t care nor value connection. It means I won’t be forced into it by obligatory social mores.
Eye contact is a vulnerable expression. It’s an opening. An invitation. A gift, really.
We can’t control the behavior of others, though we try don’t we? Have you ever looked honestly at your means of interaction with people? It is honest or coercive? Allowing or manipulative? The degree and frequency to which we feel disappointed by others gives us a clue as to how much expectation we harbor.
Not having expectations doesn’t equate to not having any boundaries or common decency. This is where communication comes in.
Recovery taught me that expectations are premeditated resentments. This is one of the best, most useful and honest tools I have learned.
Perhaps you’ll find it useful, too.