Just recently I met with a friend who I hadn’t had a chance to see for almost a year and a half.
It was truly great! We connected instantly, talked about a million different things and I had a lot of coffee to make up for all the coffee dates we should have had..
One of the many things we touched on was ‘expectations’ in life; more specifically in relationships.
We both acknowledge that we are not the best at keeping in touch with people who live elsewhere.
We both pretty much suck at keeping in touch with each other on a regular basis, yet we had no problem connecting once we finally met. No hard feelings. No one was hurt. There wasn’t any awkwardness.
On top of that we see each other as very close friends.
This is someone I would call instantly if any life altering event was about to happen. This is someone I have had very deep conversations with and entrust my heart to.
It all seems very contradicting.
How can we be so disconnected yet so connected?
In this case I think that one reason that we can be this way toward each other is because we think similarly when it comes to this. We think or expect the same. I don’t feel less loved and known just because we don’t talk every day or every week. Since we both feel this way we are good with the situation we have. We still feel connected.
I wish I could say that every friendship I have had works the same way, but it’s not so. More often than not, what two people expect from each other and need in a friendship or relationship is very different. On top of that, those expectations and needs must be communicated and received by the other party.
Thankfully, my friend and I haven’t had to work very hard or fight to keep our connection and be where we’re at today. Saying that, I’m not saying we haven’t invested in each other or been intentional. We have. But honestly, it hasn’t been very hard. Sometimes friendships are relatively easy to keep alive, and even thriving.
Still, I believe that what my friend and I have now, is also due to a few things which took place while we still lived in the same city.
During that time we established a healthy and deep connection. If it hadn’t been established over time, before we both moved and got more “disconnected”, I’m not sure we would feel so connected now. We had gotten to know each other, personalities and all. That really helps when it comes to knowing what to expect in the future as well.
In addition, we’ve shared so many things with each other. We’ve talked about expectations. As it happens, we share the same expectations to our friendship at the moment, but that’s not a given. Since we know where we personally are at, we can both feel free to be ourselves and not feel any pressure.
However, since we talked about this, we could also have discovered that we had different expectations toward our friendship at the moment.
Being aware of this would at least give us a chance to figure out how to deal with it in the best way.
While this particular friendship is one where expectations have been communicated and everybody’s happy, I’ve been in many other situations with people where I’ve realized (a bit late unfortunately) that we expected different things.
Sometimes I expect way more than you. And I feel hurt when you don’t set aside enough time and energy for us.
“I thought we had something special!
I thought you really valued me!”
Other times you expect more of our relationship than I do. While I think we’re just goofing off, having fun, you think we’re BFF.
While this is going on, hearts can easily be wounded and deep things be shared way before its time.
Other times, negative experiences might make us expect, not too much but too little out of a relationship or a situation. We might expect failure before we’re even started.
Since we all have different experiences and personalities, we will all have different expectations in life – to ourselves, to friends, to God..
I think there are at least two pivotal keys to managing expectations well, though:
1) Be aware of your own expectations in various circumstances.
This might take time, but get started observing what you expect from friends, situations, etc. and once you have some defined expectations, try to figure out why you expect what you expect. Are you believing lies? Are you stuck in some bad experience? Is it time to change what you expect?
2) Once you have some conveyable knowledge about yourself, communicate it to others as well (no, not everybody, but someone, at least).
You wouldn’t want to do this at the very starting point of a relationship or in a demanding way. But find a way of talking about each other’s thoughts when it comes to the specific relationship. Once you’ve found out more about each other, you might find that you have very different expectations.
Sometimes they’ll be so contradicting or different from each other you might have to reconsider or redefine what your connection is.
But most often you will find that you have some differences as to expectations, and that’s ok. At least now you both know, and can do a better job at taking care of each other’s hearts, preferences, and wishes.