Paul Cockayne – 07791 970406 – email@example.com
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Our everyday lives are littered with expectations. When we get up in the morning we expect the kettle to work, we expect the car to start, we expect the traffic to be a nightmare, we expect the newsagent to be open and to have a copy of our preferred newspaper. We have expectations of work colleagues, family and friends. We have expectations of mechanical devices, of the weather, of our favourite TV programs.
In general, our expectations are met – and that is why they are expectations. We expect the kettle to work because it always does. We expect the traffic to be awful because it usually is.
Sometimes your expectations will be exceeded, and that tends to provide a little lift. Perhaps the traffic is not as bad as expected, and you arrive at work feeling brighter than usual. Perhaps you unexpectedly bump into an old friend and that brings back some pleasant memories which make you feel chirpy.
But sometimes your expectations will not be met. Then you are probably disappointed, but usually you can work with that. You can boil water in a saucepan instead of the kettle. You can find things to enjoy in a different newspaper. Such things are minor disappointments and we can usually find ways to works round them.
But these little disappointments dent our trust. If the car fails to start three days running, our expectation will start to change; we will start to doubt; we will lose trust in the car. We will eventually reach the point where we are provoked into a change – a new kettle – a different newsagent – a different route to work. And after a change we will probably not have a firm expectation. Will the new route be any better? We wait and see. If, after a number of days, the journey seems consistently better, we will form a firmer expectation about the trip to work. We will start to trust the new route.
Expectations and trust; they are strongly linked. We have expectations of our partners and if they are not met, our trust is eroded. And in this area of our lives, for most of us the stakes are higher than if we are dealing with a kettle or a newsagent. The trust we invest in our relationship is really deep and fundamental. For many people, their inner security is based on their trust in another person, and so if that trust is damaged, their relationship is damaged, and they themselves can feel damaged.
It’s not too difficult (or expensive) to go out and buy a new kettle, but it’s a much bigger decision to end a relationship. But if your expectations – your needs – are not being met, what choice do you have? Well, you can change your expectations, of course. For example, if your partner is not a great listener, you can talk instead to family, or friends, or a counsellor. You can stop expecting your partner to listen, and get your needs met elsewhere.
The problem here can be that you end up changing your expectations in many different areas of the relations, and you can change them multiple times. Because ending a relationship is such a big thing to do, you can compromise to the point where the relationship meets very few of your expectations. It can end up being a relationship that is not at all what you want.
If you realise that you are in that situation it may feel that it’s time end the relationship, time to buy a new kettle. And while that may be an answer, it’s not all or nothing. Because you might have lost sight of the fact that, unlike a kettle, your partner is capable of change. You may only need to ask.