When you specialise in relationships it’s a bit like specialising in one wave on a moving sea. They’re as diverse as each unique human being on this planet, but muddled up by the billions of humans engaging in them.
During one relationship you may strongly feel that you’ve found yourself, and then another comes along that throws you right out because what the past person thought was endearing the present person can’t stand and you therefore have no idea what the future person might think. You can almost get afraid to be yourself, always supposing you haven’t already lost sight of who you are.
Added to that there’s the complexity that what person A thinks of you, person B may totally disagree with, and so on. So lover might love you but mother might despair of you for exactly the reasons that your lover loves you.
So what can we do about this mental and emotional tangle? We can have expectations.
Now I’m sure that quite a few people are screaming silently at the very idea that anyone is allowed to have one single expectation of someone else, but along with expectations goes ‘understanding the nature of the relationship’. I will, of course, explain.
The Nature of the Relationship
You need to understand how the person you are having a relationship fits into the pattern of your life. Your boss is, of course, boss so that’s simple. Except that many people decide that their boss is an idiot and rather than leave the job they waste a lot of their time fuming over the boss’s idiocy, often without knowing what causes them to make their decisions, rather than just accepting that they are the boss. Have a word if you think they’re wrong and if they stick to their guns then understand the nature of the relationship and don’t fight it.
Then you have friends, a much more complex scenario unless you first sketch out what you consider a friend to be. Are they someone who wants to spend time with you? Yes. Are they someone in an equal relationship with you? I would say yes.
A lot of the muddle around friendships comes from putting up with behaviour that is hurtful. The friend who gossips behind your back; the one who steals your lover; the one who borrows your clothes but wouldn’t lend you theirs; the person who is generally unkind in the way they speak to you.
There are a thousand ways that a person can reveal their true feelings towards you, and you have to be the one who measures your feelings against what you are seeing and experiencing, and if your feelings are right then it’s your job to move away from it. We can’t actually put expectations on others but we can define in our own mind what friendship means to us and then act on what we see.
Romance is the same. Sometimes we can be so afraid of being alone that we will convince ourselves that we are in love with the first person who comes along. There may be many doubts along the way – how many people do you know who have been unhappy for years before they call it a day – but for some odd reason human beings will keep on keeping on even though they’re hurt, lonely, bewildered, unsupported and unfulfilled.
Again, this is because we don’t traditionally set the parameters for the way we want to feel in any romantic relationship and move away if those parameters aren’t met or exceeded.
However, we also have to remember that they other person in the relationship needs us to be Miss-Ter Right so there will be a need to reach agreement on the fundamentals of life. If you can’t do that then there is no love. Simple as that.
So, although I cannot give you answers as you are a unique individual, I can say that you should set parameters for all the types of relationship you’re in, for your behaviour as well as that of others. When those parameters are breached you obviously give healing the relationship three good goes, but if it won’t heal then the relationship isn’t right for you.
The expectations, for want of a better word, that you hope to have met, can always be flexible, but they should not be trampled underfoot and forgotten in the quest for someone else’s happiness at the exclusion of your own.
So don’t be afraid to define the relationship you’re in, think about how you would ideally feel most of the time during such a relationship, making space for humanity and life events that may throw things off course from time-to-time, and stick to your parameters.
Remember, the boss is always the boss and if you’re not the boss you don’t get to do what you want so don’t waste too much energy. Whereas romance is a huge part of your life and you have a right to equal input into that relationship.
Measure relationships like this and you won’t go far wrong. Oh, and never tell your dentist how to deal with teeth…that’s another one where it’s really best to let the expert do their stuff!
The Final (Spiritual) Word
To me Spirituality doesn’t equally silly. It isn’t Spiritual to know that you’re unhappy and do nothing about it. To be Spiritual can easily include some standards of kindness and consideration that you can use to measure if something is or is not working for you.
If it isn’t working you don’t need to criticise the other person, you just use your kind judgement to decide whether or not you and that person are blending well in this world and make changes if the answer is ‘no’.
Leave the job, downgrade romance to friendship, downgrade friend to acquaintance, accept parents as being set in their ways, accept siblings as ‘other people’ not siblings with a divine need to please you, and so on.
Set your own expectations and then live up to them.
Deb Hawken – Personal Change Manager Specialising in Relationships
http://www.debhawken.com; email firstname.lastname@example.org; phone +44 (0)7912 374226
If you’re unhappy in any relationship call me now and start creating parameters to measure the relationship by