Have you ever had an experience where someone else blamed you for not meeting their needs? Perhaps you didn’t even know that they had those needs or you didn’t believe it was your role to meet them (but they sure did!).
I see this happen often in many different relationships. A lonely mother expects her adult children to fulfill her needs for companionship and empathy. A husband expects his wife to cook his meals and do his laundry because his mother always did that for his father. A boss expects his employees to work late because he needs the business to increase their annual profits.
The keyword here is “expects”.
Expectations are beliefs about how things should happen. A problem is created when:
The expectation is not expressed so that both parties are aware of it.
The needs of both parties are not communicated.
Can you see that a break down in communication is at the core of unfulfilled expectations?
Understanding Our Motives
In over 30 years of working in social services, I have met many people with a deep desire to please others to gain their approval. They will sacrifice their own needs to meet the expectations of others. This behaviour is often learned in childhood when we want to please our parents and earn their approval. However, it is not conducive to creating lasting, meaningful and satisfying adult relationships.
I have also met many people who won’t, for a variety of reasons, take responsibility for their own emotions and needs. Instead, they expect others to make them feel good or meet their needs and blaming or shaming them when they don’t.
Unfortunately, unfulfilled and unexpressed expectations lead to anger and disappointment and even resentment. Judgment and blame are quick to follow.
6 Ways To Avoid Expectation Issues in Relationships
- Become conscious of what feelings and needs lie beneath those expectations.
- Express your feelings and needs clearly
- Let go of your attachment to how your needs will get fulfilled by others and take responsibility for ensuring that your needs are met.
- Make clear and fair requests
- Notice when you do things for approval, from a sense of duty or to avoid shame or guilt. (Hint: you will probably use language like “should”, “must” and “have to”.) Endeavour to act from a position of positive choice to enrich lives - yours and others.
- Use The No-Fault Zone® Game to resolve conflict caused by expectation and miscommunication in your relationships
Psychotherapist Albert Ellis is quoted as saying: "Where is it written that others must act the way we want them to? It may be preferable, but not necessary." When we know what we need, we can take the necessary steps to meet those needs ourselves or ask for help from others clearly and respectfully. Authentic communication and healthy relationships really do happen one conversation at a time!