If you think about the relationships in your life that have gone south, slid sideways or even died, I bet this had a role: unmet expectations. It can’t just be me. In fact, I’ve not only experienced it but I’ve seen it happen at churches, in classrooms and in dating. Person A expects something (without telling person B usually), and Person B unwittingly doesn’t meet the expectation. Person A withdraws, cuts off or detaches some way. Sometimes harsh assumptions happen; other times healthy and helpful conversations occur. Either way, it changes things.
Relationships can be a lot of work. Duh, I know. But when we have expectations (and who doesn’t?), dynamics change. I saw this most recently with a few couples and some small groups of people. With the couple, she thought that sending a text meant that he would text back. Silly girl. He was hot and cold with his texting but she expected something a little more steady. The relationship dwindled; he was confused. In a group, it was expected that everyone would be equally invested and put in the effort to keep the group healthy and strong. To others, it was a supplemental side dish, not the main meal the others saw it to be. Needless to say, feelings were hurt. The group stumbled a bit.
We all have expectations and it seems we all expect the people we live with to know what those expectations are, but how unfair. When in doubt, communicate. If the relationship is highly valuable to you and you’d be loathe to lose it, maybe a conversation about expectations are in order. If things have gone and are going smoothly, enjoy the ride… but in the meantime, brush up on those listening and communication skills. You’re bound to need them soon.