The expectations we place on others is a dangerous game of chess we are playing that destines the other party to fail before the game has even started.
There are many things that can come between friendships and cause two people to harbour hostility towards each other, causing the bond to falter momentarily or part their separate ways for good. Whilst some of these contributing factors may genuinely be toxic and result in a healthier mind by disconnecting with those who don’t add value to our lives, there is one thing that breaks people apart with no justifiable reason besides the expectations you have set within your own mind.
In a world where we are overly sensitive and overly cautious to be on our toes in having to be politically correct and mindful of offensive language and behaviour, we are turning into a society where speaking our mind is increasingly synonymous to being too blunt, thus being viewed in a negative light. We are extra careful in our words as to not hurt the ones around us, which often leads to us biting our tongue rather than speaking up to what our heart truly feels.
This cycle of walking on eggshells is the breeding ground of a disconnect between what we silently expect of the ones we love and what truly ends up happening in reality. Expectations arise from a preconceived idea that the person on the receiving end of our thoughts and actions are to step up and fill the shoes that we have created to fit them. But how unfair is this from an objective standpoint, when those people are expected to know what our mind is thinking and to live up to these expectations, without ever realising there were any to begin with? How unfair is it that this chessboard that you have set up entirely by yourself according to your own set of rules, is being played by a novice on the other end with no idea of what the game play is about.
When depicted in plain black and white like the above scenario, it’s no surprise that it is a losing battle from the get-go. By setting expectations, you’re not only testing the game-player to know your thoughts and intentions, but allowing them to try and fail, and having the audacity to put the blame on them for not meeting your standards of what should have been. Here in lies the beginning of a cruel and confused conflict and tension, where the game-maker (yourself) becomes incredibly wrought with frustration, confusion and in extreme or repeated offenses, resentment towards the game-player(s). From the game-maker’s perspective, the other party has failed you – they’ve failed to listen to you properly, failed to read your body language or underlying signals and have acted differently to what was expected of them.
This forms the basis of both an unhealthy relationship and a toxic mind for the ones involved, where you will constantly feel like the ones you love are falling short of living up to your expectations – simply because they weren’t aware of such standards to begin with. This is a vicious habit that merely exists in your mind, leading to a skewed perception of friends or partners who don’t ever seem to be good enough or give enough.
There is nothing wrong with setting or having expectations – in fact, expectations provide clear guidelines and benchmarks that are healthy because they allow all parties involved the ability to measure and understand what is required of them in order for something rewarding to blossom. The missing element in all this – is clear communication.
Communicate, and continue to communicate – these ever-changing expectations and standards and continually receive and give feedback as to what is working and what isn’t. Only then, can all parties fruitfully work towards maintaining a healthy relationship that is able to produce a satisfying outcome, and for all relationships to blossom in abundance in a two-way street of giving and taking.