Differences and Expectations (and How They Screw Up Relationships)

One of the biggest challenges in relationships is always the fact that we’re different from each other–with different beliefs, experiences and ways of doing things.

Because of these differences, we can set up expectations of the other people in our lives that make connection, love and understanding pretty impossible.

We somehow think that other people should be like us (even though logically we know that’s not true).

We think they should act like us, think like us and do the things we want them to do but it doesn’t work out this way because the simple fact is this…

We are all different and those differences and expectations get in the way of love and connection.

And when we forget this and forget to appreciate the simple fact that others think differently from us…

We create unreal expectations of others that wall us off from the love we want.

One of the ways to making sure differences and expectations don’t ruin our relationships is to simply understand that other people ARE different from us…

And they don’t have to be like us in order for us to love them, appreciate them and see how they add value to our lives.

Otto has this friend who he wishes he had a deeper connection with.

The problem in this relationship isn’t that his friend doesn’t love, care about him or appreciate him.

He does.

The problem is that Otto has expectations and even desires that this friend be different than he is.

The problems begin in those moments when Otto forgets how wonderful his friend really is and the ways this friend contributes to his life.

The moment that Otto starts making his friend wrong in his own mind for being different from him and desiring that their connection be different from what it is…

That’s when the judgments start in Otto’s mind and the disappointments creep in and build walls between the two of them.

Please understand that Otto’s friend knows nothing about these thoughts that Otto has about how he wishes he were different.

Otto’s friend doesn’t know how much Otto wants the relationship to be different than it is right now and more like how it was many years ago.

Should Otto talk with his friend about this?

He could if he felt led to do it but…

The reality is that Otto’s friend is giving as much to the relationship as he possibly can given his other commitments and time constraints.

Otto sees this perfectly except when his doubts, desires, expectations and his disappointments creep into his mind about this relationship.

Otto forgets to appreciate the relationship he does have with his friend and how much he values the time that they do get to spend together.

And this is what we all do so much of the time…

We hope, wish and want things to be different (maybe the way they used to be) and very often they’re not the way we imagined we’d like them to be…

And then we create problems in our mind that actually don’t exist.

We miss what’s present in this current moment.

The fact that the other person is different doesn’t mean that he or she is wrong, bad or should even change because of these differences.

Now of course you don’t have to put up with behavior from others that is not healthy for you to be around.

But trying to constantly change someone and expect them to be different from who they want to be is just a losing battle.

And you lose if that’s one you’re fighting.

When you start appreciating instead of judging and being in the moment, you may see something new that you hadn’t seen before.

You may see more love and connection than you thought was possible.

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