What to Expect….

…NOT when you’re expecting, but just in general.  Lately I have had several conversations with various friends about expectations — both reasonable and unreasonable — that we put on ourselves, and more importantly the expectations that we have for other people.

(Side note: This post is not visually stimulating.  Nothing really seemed to fit. So you don’t feel like I completely failed you, click here for a tune to listen to while you read….)

As I have aged, I have come to realize that the things I expect either from my friends or from our relationships are not necessarily the same as the expectations they have for themselves or our relationship. I have become more and more disappointed/frustrated with them in the past few years. That’s not to say I don’t adore my friends, I really do, but sometimes I feel like they are out of their minds or don’t get me or don’t care or are inconsiderate. I feel disenchanted with them sometimes and it makes me mad/sad. (Smad?)

Recently, Miss Rose told me (and it broke my heart) that she feels like she really can’t count on the people in her life the way she always thought she could.  I think this realization came over time and was a difficult one for her to swallow because for Miss Rose loyalty and dependability are MAJOR when it comes to her friends/family. (And for the record, she is probably the most loyal person I have ever met. Even when I, err, don’t exactly deserve it…) As much as I hurt for her feeling that way, it was sort of comforting to know that I am not the only one who feels disappointed in the people I love from time to time.

But the expectations issue still begs the question: is it them or is it me? Well, as much as I would LOVE to blame it all on them (because clearly I am the best, most wonderful/thoughtful/perfect friend anyone could ever ask for), I know that there’s more to it than that.  Maybe what I expect is too much.  Maybe I’m trying to turn these pretty great people (who seem willing to put up with me) into people they just aren’t. And maybe that’s not fair.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that I shouldn’t have ANY expectations for my friends.  I am not a doormat and I am not going to tolerate “friends” who treat me like crap — these are total frenemies, but that is a topic for another day. I expect my friends to be honest (relatively of course, you don’t have to actually tell me if my pants make my butt look big — trust me, I already know) and kind and loving. I expect my friends to have integrity and to be loyal and to remember my birthday. But other than that, should I really have a bunch of expectations for them?

I tend to get all wound up in knots when I try to set expectations and standards for my friends that maybe they don’t set for themselves.  Examples of my possibly unreasonable expectations:

1) I get mad to no end when I have to wait on people — if I’m ready on time, you should be too.

2) I am inflexible with plans. If we said we were going to do X or go to Y, that is what I expect us to do. Changing it up on the fly gets me all in a tizzy. What can I say, I get nervous or something. Maybe I have some undiagnosed social anxiety. Plus, I’m a total control freak so anything changing at the last-minute gets under my skin.

3) I expect my friends to be what I want them to be. You know, I want them to agree with me when I rant about some grave injustice that has occurred in my life. Or tell me that so-n-so was totally wrong and I am completely justified in being pissed. Or assure me that some boy will call or that I shouldn’t want him to.  Basically, I like it when you tell me what I want to hear.  But at the same time, I don’t necessarily give the same lip service in turn to my friends. Wow, I think I just called myself a hypocrite. Ick.

The point is expecting other people to behave a certain way or say or do a certain thing is a one-way ticket to Les Miserables.  I’ve been trying to stop expecting people to be what I want them to be and to start just letting them be who they are.  That’s not to say that who they are isn’t ever going to drive me nuts because let’s be honest, it might.  But if who they are/the way they behave makes me crazy, that’s on them. I have wasted too many hours and too many energy on lamenting about how someone disappointed or annoyed or frustrated me because they didn’t meet the expectations I arbitrarily set for them without their consent.  It really isn’t fair to them. And it isn’t worth my time.

So my expectations are evolving. And I’m thinking more about how I behave as a friend. And the things I do.  And the expectations I can reasonably set for myself. I figure, if I do what I say I will, that’s the best I can do.  And with everyone else, I’m trying to just let them be…

Do you set unreasonable or unfair expectations for your friends and family? Or yourself? How do you manage your frustrations with your friends?

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