Do you have unrealistic expectations?

Does reading glowing reports of other couples' breathtakingly close, wildly thrilling, deeply engaged and loving relationships, especially those that have lasted well into their 4th decade (or in some cases, month) make you feel inadequate? Do you wistfully read their posts and wish that you were as lucky as they? Do you imagine that their lives are perfect, their relationship is perfect, their children are perfect, and that they live in a perfect house with a perfectly maintained garden where a perfectly groomed and sweet-smelling dog has his beautifully-crafted hardwood kennel?

Do you wonder what it is that these poster couples have or do that you and your “other half” don't? Do you find yourself comparing your lover or yourself with those written about on this and other sites—and not liking what you see? Do you want your spouse to be more like the poster partner of your dreams, more attentive, less needy, stronger, more exciting, less absentminded, more cherishing, less disrespectful, more interested in a Taken In Hand relationship, less inconsistent, more self-controlled, [add complaints to taste, here].

Do you find yourself ending relationships when they have barely begun, because the other person shows signs of not being perfect? These other folk have the perfect partner, so why should you have to make do with anyone less than your ideal? Do you wonder why the only ones who want to see you again are the unworthy, the unpleasant, and the downright criminally insane?

The poster couples may have all that you want in life—or they may not. You only see what they present to the world. You don't see beyond the perfection to the fallible and faulty human beings they really are. You don't know what goes on in their lives—not really. That woman who writes such glowing posts about her husband does not dwell on (or mention) the faults he has that you would never be able to stand. That man who writes about his beloved wife, loves her despite the fact that she has more faults than he ever thought he'd be able to live with before he met her.

It is not that they are lying—far from it! They are simply focusing on the positive, the desirable, the good parts of their loved one, and allowing the less desirable aspects of the person to fade into the back of their mind. They have weighed up the pros and cons, the wonderful bits and the irritating (or worse) bits, and, finding that their loved one is, as Pat Allen says, 51% or better, they have wholeheartedly committed themselves to their loved one and their relationship.

We are all fallible human beings full of faults and problems and annoying habits. If you wait for perfection, you will die before you ever find that perfect person. If you focus on what your spouse lacks, or on what he or she should be or do that he or she isn't or won't do, you will keep those things uppermost in your mind. And when you keep those things uppermost in your mind, you will feel bad, frustrated, annoyed, critical, dissatisfied, sad, pessimistic, and angry.

When you feel those things, how will it feel to be your spouse? Will your damning judgements, irritation, dissatisfaction, anger and pessimism about your relationship feel good, loving, kind, accepting, and friendly? Or will it feel painful, upsetting, depressing, and unloving?

As Tevemer's lovely article shows, even in the best relationships, with the most good feeling and warmth, and the best problem-solving institutions, there can be misunderstandings in which each think that the other is being distant or unfriendly. If this can happen even when there really isn't a problem, imagine how it must feel to the other person when you really are exuding negativity towards him or her.

So what these poster couples are doing is accentuating the positive, and not expecting more than any human being could possibly deliver. It is not enough to say that you think we are all fallible: you have to act on it. That means, amongst other things, assuming that you and your loved ones will make mistakes, do the wrong thing, and have misunderstandings. Expect mistakes! And don't define yourself, your loved one and your relationship by them. To feel more positive, focus on the positive.

Are you are a single person who has realised that your expectations have been way too high, or that you have been rejecting potential amours who are better than 51%? Do you read articles like LifeOfCuriosity's Given a choice between two men ... and wonder how to tell whether you are expecting too much, or putting up with more than you should? (It is not always easy to tell!)

If you are now berating yourself for having expected too much, either from a long-term spouse, or from potential amours, reading the next paragraph may make you feel much better about yourself!

I am ashamed to admit this, but I once stopped seeing a man who was extremely intelligent, fascinating, had the same ideas and values as I, was marvellously kind, considerate and protective, and whom I found very attractive (extremely rare!) after only four dates because on the third and fourth date he wore enough aftershave to wake the dead, and he talked with his mouth full. How completely stupid of me! Whatever possessed me to allow such completely trivial things to put me off him? Talk about not giving him a chance!

I won't make that mistake again. But I will make other mistakes. We all do. All the time. That is the human condition. And we have to live now, we all our imperfections, striving for improvement but always fallible. But when you truly take into account that we are all fallible and prone to error, that makes it possible not to get upset or angry about every mistake that loved ones make. It makes acceptance possible. Poster couples are not necessarily more lucky than the rest of us. They have kind hearts and a good eye. They see the best in people rather than the worst. They accept one another as human beings and don't expect perfection. There are no perfect persons, there is only us.

the boss

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Comments

On waking today...

On waking today I had that familiar feeling of one who is alone ,has loved and lost.That sinking feeling that comes with knowing a love I have for someone is not returned....maybe my expectaions were too high. It's strange how we say I love you so easily and yet no two people really mean the same thing.

It's a Dilemma

It's human and possibly right to want more than one has and to be striving for better in one's life. So to a certain extent having high expectations is a good thing.

It's only bad if it makes one totally dissatisfied with what we have to the point where happiness is decreased and not increased by this striving.

Then there are things that one truly can't live with (or without) in a relationship. No one should be expected to jettison those things because Mr. or Ms. Half Decent has come along.

But, there are also expectations that are too high. Expecting someone to be dominant (or submissive) all the time would be one of them. Real life does interfere. Expecting someone to know exactly how to step into a newly discovered role would be another. It's too high an expectation if it keeps you alone rather than getting you out there to experience lots of people.

"Pat"

Unrealistic expectations and conditions

My husband and I have been discussing a Taken In Hand relationship. In our case, this involves spanking, but I was able to talk him out of it the first time he wanted to spank me.

We'd been squabbling again and he admits it's partially his fault but I will also admit that I can claim some blame. We talked instead and he told me that I had agreed to our new circumstances, that I said he could spank me and that now I was placing conditions (trying to "top from the bottom") on what we had agreed to. It made me think, really hard and long after he went to bed and I stayed up alone to work on homework.

We've been talking about trust and my lack of it and how I lost my trust in him a little more each time he broke his word or said he'd do something for me and then didn't, or promised to fix something I physically couldn't and then let it slide for months, or made arrangements to pay bills with money we didn't have. We talked about how if I want to rebuild that trust I have to let him prove himself worthy of my trust. He means for me to surrender to him and just trust. But how? I know, here comes the "Nike" commercial "Just do it!" but how can I open up a hole in the sky high wall and just trust him again? How do I let my heart take that risk when it's all I can do to stop the hemmoraging with a bandaid? My heart hurts and I don't know what to do.

We've been married 15 years and I don't want to give it up now. He's been my best friend for so long, but we hardly talk anymore, only have sex, not make love. We have two beautiful children who don't have very good relationship models to follow and I want that to change. When I'm done with my studies, I'll be a teacher so I'll get to spend more time with Tim and my family, but what do I do until then? By finding a way to avoid the punishment I probably deserved, I've only perpetuated the cycle and punished us both in a way that hurts more now that I realize what could have happened instead.

My unrealistic expectations have pushed him past his comfort level, my conditions on the submission have hurt our potential for meaningful interactions, be they spankings or conversations. I've put another brick on the wall instead of taking one off and isolated myself further. It hurts and I don't know what else to do.

To Neska

Perhaps you have unrealistic expectations, but to me, it sounds as though he has very unrealistic expectations. Being accused of topping from the bottom when you have only just started this relationship would be a red flag to me. Both of you have to relax a bit and realise that it is going to take time, and that you cannot expect everything to be as you would like after only a short time. Could I suggest that either your husband reads the following articles, or you read them and explain in your own words.

Is she afraid of losing control? Topping from the bottom?
The subjection of women
Stereotypes
The importance of conquest
Can you be Taken In Hand if you're not submissive?
Could you be a slave, owned, property?
Best of luck!

To Neska

Thank you so much the boss!! These articles have given me so much to think about. "Stereotypes" really hit home because all my life, others have been trying to get me to be what they want me to be. They've been trying to stuff me into their molds of how they think I should be or behave. I see the world differently than most people and revel (mostly in secret) in the difference but it still hurt every time someone would refuse to accept me as I am. It's still a struggle today and people are shocked when I say that "I'm unique and if you don't like it you can go somewhere else." It's one of the reasons I married Tim in the first place, he didn't go somewhere else, he hasn't tried to remold me. I guess life has interfered and we just haven't been communicating as fully or deeply as we need to. I'll keep trying and we'll go slowly.

Thank you!!!!

Used to, yes

Hands up here to the bulk of this article, at least until recently.

My partner and I were close to breaking up when someone pointed out this book and the 51% rule and that shifted my perception of him to a large extent. It's true he wasn't being abusive in any way or driving me crazy so my focus moved to his good points,which as it turned out are many. As soon as I started to look for the 51% up came a huge list of great qualities and the percentage just increased and increased.

Of course this book was not the full story about the changes we have brought about but it was a start. We are still a work in progress but with more optimism for the future together now. He is not without faults but then neither am I and we are living pretty happily with that knowledge. The difference is now we can interpret things a bit differently. Even though he is kind and decent he is not a mindreader and it was my mistake to ever think he was. Now we really communicate to make sure we understand each other and are closer than ever.

One example: I used to feel he was not particularly motivated to be with me.I viewed his general attitude to our relationship as fairly lazy, disinterested and even selfish. This all came pouring out during a row and he was shocked I could ever think such a thing. After my tantrum subsided we really talked and have both made mistakes as it turns out. Now we make more of an effort to be sure the other feels appreciated and that has made the world of difference. Knowing now with absolute certainty he truly cares, both about me and us being together, has altered everything and things that would previously have been upsetting are now no longer important. It really has been a question of perception for both of us. So now we both know we are equally committed any mistakes either of us make are no longer such a problem and are so much easier to live with.

The problem of perception

Milly wrote:

It really has been a question of perception for both of us.

I think this is summed up really nicely in a story that one of the SLOB sisters (authors of From Pigpen to Paradise as well as other home organization books) tells about an interaction between her and her husband. Apparently her husband is not the romantic type. He will do any thing she asks and will walk across the ocean to get her a cup of milk but he is not a hearts and flowers kind of guy. He is a police detective and he deals with facts. When she had their third child, he brought her flowers but the card was signed: "To a Job Well Done, Danny Jones". (I thought this was funny because my husband, after 11 years, just stopped signing his full name to notes and emails to me, LOL.)

Anyway, because she is very demonstrative (hugging and saying "I love you" and getting romantic ,personal gifts for anniversaries and birthdays) she always kind of assumed that she was just the more loving of them and that was the way it was. Sure her husband loved her but she was the more loving partner.

So she got her home organized and started keeping a neat tidy house, having meals cooked on a regular basis and not having to send her husband to work in dirty underwear that has been sprayed with Lysol and tumbled in the dryer to make it smell clean (this is what their books are about-getting organized when you are a REAL slob). One day, she is talking to her husband about how it was before and he says that he always thought he loved her more because she would never do the things to make him more comfortable (i.e. make sure meals were cooked, make sure he had clean clothes to wear; fulfill her end of the division of labor that they had decided on). She was shocked. She says, "How could you think that? I was always the one to say I love you." He says, "I thought they were just pretty words. How could you love me and not be willing to put out the effort to keep up on the laundry?"

She realized that she puts more store in what she calls "personal love" and her husband emphasizes "impersonal love". Each was giving the other what they wanted without thinking about what their partner might want. Once they realized this they each made a concerted effort to see their partner's gifts for what they were and to give their partner what they desired. Both were acting very lovingly, just not in a manner that the other was capable of appreciating at the time.

The specifics may be different but I think this is a pretty common issue for people.

Otter*

PS I understand that there are lots of men who don't equate keeping a tidy house or a hot dinner on the table to love. Mine does (along with countless other things), Pam Jones' does, but many men could care less. I really hope that we don't get a barrage of posts about how someone's husband doesn't equate house work with love. And, yes, I know: if your man wants clean clothes he knows how to operate the laundry machines. That wasn't the point, it was just an example. =)

"The moment that I looked into your eyes, you owned me."
-Kenny Chesney

Lucky

Dear Otter,

Well I guess I am the lucky one. My husband says he loves me and he does the laundry too.

But it's true some people need to say it or hear it, and others need to act it out or see it acted out, to believe love is there.

"Pat"

Re: Unrealistic expectations

I`m never jealous of other couples that I read about on the internet. Of course I`ve been married for 22 years to a man who I would say has been my best friend through all those years. But of course he is not perfect and to say he never broke a promise to me would be a lie. Though since we are in a taken in hand relationship things have been getting a lot better.
But part of it is also that two of our three children are grown and we have a lot more time for each other. I read once that you can never change your partner, you have to change yourself first. People who are unsatisfied with their lifes should maybe stop and think about it if things are really that bad or if their expectations are to high.
As for the people who have perfect children. My experience with my own children and the children of friends and relatives is that usually when the kids are small people tend to say: My children are just wonderful. Once they get to be teenagers people tend to say: My children are a pain in the butt. Because the precious little Baby and the cute little firstgrader who only wants to make Mommy happy and looks up to Daddy does turn into a selfish mouthy teenager who thinks his or her friends know it all. And that is a part of peoples life that takes a lot of patience to get through whether your taken in hand or not.
For people who don’t have children it is in my eyes a lot easier to be in a 24/7 taken in hand relationship, with rules, punishments or whatever the couple practices in their relationship. Which doesn’t mean that I would want a life without children, if I could do it all over again I would have them again. I think finding happyness is excepting the things that comes with Life instead of always wanting a certain dream to come true. Live your dream, don’t dream your life away.
Autumn

Seeing the best in one another

My wife sees the best in me, and for that I'm grateful. It makes life a whole lot more enjoyable for both of us. I think you have to see the best in your spouse if you want a good marriage.