Stop Expecting Your Relationships to Suck

Doesn’t it just get under your skin sometimes? …I mean like, reallllly grind your gears?

People don’t really pay attention to their demanding nature. Everyone you come in contact with has expectations of you on some level.

As I was sitting down for a days work the other day, I realized that I had so many expectations sprawled out in front of me. I immediately became stressed thinking about the expectations of my:

  • clients
  • business associates
  • wife
  • kids
  • friends
  • enemies
  • extended family
  • landlord
  • bills
  • church
  • small group
  • social following, etc.

Most people reading this probably have a list much longer than mine. Why do so many people expect things just because you are in relationship with them?

I have seriously fantasized about creating a “Relationship Entering” contract that clearly spells out and defines what to expect and what not to expect out of any given relationship.

Ya know?! Wouldn’t that be beautiful?

“Dear Mr. Smith,

It has been brought to my attention that we have now greeted each other in public 3 weeks in a row, and have even exchanged 4 smiles, 6 chuckles, a conversation, and 2 handshakes. 

Any further interaction beyond this point officially marks the beginning of an acquaintance and may or may not proceed into a mutual friendship. Please duly note that throughout the duration of our relationship, this is what you can expect…”

Oh man! I would love this – then, if any occurrence happened out side of that contract, I could politely send a letter or email of disciplinary notice for violating any section of our relationship agreement.

And yes, I would have one for every single person, even my blog readers!

Unfortunately, this is just a sarcastic fantasy, and that sort of thing just doesn’t happen. If it did, I am sure that over time I would be handing out less and less contracts, because fewer people would even want to be in relation with me.

And this is when reality sets in.

Relationships fly freely about in our lives and are very sudden and dynamic. A very well known author and speaker tells every new employee at his company that he will make them angry and upset them at times because it is inevitable – but the disclaimer is that his company operates with grace, understanding and forgiveness because that is part of relationships.

I think this is such a beautiful way to begin a relationship.

While this is a great way to begin a business relationship, it would be awkward if you came out and just said this in the beginning of a personal relationship. But, regardless of what relationship it is, make it clear somehow in the beginning what your intentions are (notice I said intentions and not expectations.) Even if that is solely through your actions. Imagine if you were the first one in the relationship to forgive if they made a mistake, or the first to go above and beyond, or the first to provide comfort of any kind.

Now, I know what you are thinking – “doesn’t acting as such give liberty to expect more?” Well, acting according to your EXPECTATIONS does, but not acting according to your INTENTIONS.

Expectations are what you expect out of the relationship, intentions are what you intend to give into the relationship.

‘WHOA, Derek! I never thought of it like that!!!’ – well neither did I until just the other day. I am working this out and learning along side of you, as well, to have intentions and not expectations.

Regardless of where you stand with your relationships, remember this: 

Relationships on all levels are difficult to handle. Anytime you enter relations with someone, expectations are set. The honest truth is that you can not meet the demand of every person you come in contact with. That is why you need to lead the relationship with your intentions and not expectations.

As long as you love people as they are and hold yourself accountable to your intentions, that alone provides hope and joy as well as encourages growth.

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