Let go of expectation and your experience will be transformed. This is the secret to happiness, ease and success in dating.
We create problems and then exhaust ourselves trying to fix them.
The greatest source of anxiety in dating and the reason that we get so easily discouraged is because we think it should be different to how it actually is.
What do I mean by that statement? One of the biggest issues in dating is expectation. It’s something I hear time and again from clients who are struggling with online dating, it’s effortful, it’s joyless and they wonder if it’s all worth the effort.
Here’s what I see.
Without even realising it we’re loaded up with expectations. We might even have a list of the type of person we want to date, what they should look like, their education level, what they do for a living, their views, beliefs and values. We might even have ideas about how many emails we send before we give over a phone number, or organise a date. We then head into what they should or shouldn’t say by date 2. I mean there are even blogs on how to guarantee a second date!
Each of us has our own crazy rules we play by, all different, all made up. I know I did! For a while I even believed it was up to the man to make the first move…so I sat and waited for a while! If they hadn’t replied within 12 hours I’d written them off….I mean for goodness sake! But we’ve all done it, right?
But this is the big one…we expect someone to behave a certain way and when they don’t behave in the way we’re expecting, we blame them. Think about that for a moment. We expect someone to behave a certain way and then we blame them for not doing so.
The bottom line seems to be this. When they don’t behave in the manner we’ve decided they should behave we tell ourselves that men/women can’t be trusted. Full stop.
Here’s the scenario. You’ve been chatting online with someone, might even have met up with them, you seem to be getting on well….dare I say it, you’ve already told your friends, you’re thinking ahead to your first mini break… and then suddenly you don’t hear from them again, they’ve disappeared. Right? A common occurrence in online dating isn’t it.
You can listen to all sorts of angry thoughts in your head –
People shouldn’t behave like that. How dare she! Why do men do that? Well, perhaps it was something about me? Perhaps I’m just needy and they sense it? I’m never going to go back online again. Nobody can be trusted to behave anymore. It’s a free for all. It’s a meat market and I want no part of it….how am I ever going to meet anyone ever again?
Be honest, what kind of story have you made up about how people should behave?
What if your attitude was much more relaxed, you went in with no expectations other than wanting to enjoy a connection with another human being? It might work out, it might not.
When we free ourselves from the burden we’ve created that things need to work out a certain way in order for us to be okay then we’ll find life much more fun and lighter and enjoyable.
Expectation is burdensome when we have decided that we need something to work out a certain way. I’m right, they’re wrong. How does that make you really feel? Would you like it to be different?
How different would it feel to simply enjoy each interaction, each connection and enjoy the company of someone new, truly being present in the moment and not giving a second’s thought to anything further. I had a friend who said he could see it in his date’s eyes, ‘are you going to be the father to my children’, and that was on the first date. It’s fair to say there was no second date.
Okay, so how do you let go of expectation when you’ve probably lived your entire life this way, (don’t worry you’re not alone)?
- It’s simply seeing that expectation is thought. So, in a way it’s about understanding the nature of thought. We have a ton of thoughts a day, most of which we don’t even notice. Yet, some of those thoughts we’ve decided to give meaning to. I didn’t realise that I could ignore thoughts. I used to believe that if I had them they must mean something and the louder and more persistent they were the more I needed to pay attention to them. I’ve come to see it’s quite the opposite. (see internal eye roll and the nature of thought)
- Take a look at what’s behind the expectation. Maybe you’re scared of being alone, of it not working out, of feeling vulnerable, of allowing yourself to feel hurt and let down. Yes, they’re all valid feelings and experiences and things we’ve all felt at some point I’m sure. However, let’s return to thought. All these feelings have come from your thinking which you’ve been taking seriously. Don’t be scared of the feelings, they can’t hurt you, just don’t project those feelings onto someone else and create expectations.
- Fantasies aren’t real. The present is what’s real for us, this moment, right now. Expecting something you’ve dreamed up in your thinking is a fantasy and not a reliable indicator of the truth. If you can let go of expecting someone to behave in a way you’ve determined they should you’ll have much more fun and be way more successful in the long run.