“I like them, so I emailed right back.” “If they cared, they wouldn’t have waited to text me in return!” “But if I’m dating someone I like, I want to be with them 5 nights a week. They don’t, so they don’t understand how wonderful I am!”
These sentences illustrate one of the most challenging life lessons for us to learn when our emotions become involved in our relationships. We do tend to forget how wonderfully intricate individual people are, and we can get quite disappointed when they do not react, return communications – or otherwise behave – exactly as we would.
Individual reactions and behaviors are not always reliable indicators of the level of affection another person has for us. When our deepest feelings are involved, we tend to forget to “celebrate the differences” in our partner – or potential partner. Those differences can be gently discovered as we get to know someone, and appreciated and celebrated as part of that person’s unique makeup. They may also be used, along with our own distinct qualities, to strengthen our relationships.
When we expect someone to act just exactly as we would, we are often reacting out of fear and insecurity – rather than from a place of confidence in our own worth. Unfortunately, often someone will decide to end a burgeoning relationship prematurely – because the other person does not do what you would have done. At that point, it’s important to examine our own motives very closely.
If we’re truly going to make this into a growth opportunity, we’ll want to see if, unconsciously, we could be playing a game of make-believe, and using the other person’s failures to react as we would have as a pretext.
What if those expectations we tell ourselves about are really an excuse to keep this other person at a safe distance?
It all comes down to deciding whether we want the other person to mirror us, by doing what we would have done, or whether we want to delight in the different qualities – the annoyances and pleasures – this other person might be able to bring into our lives.
Remember, if they are different, there may be a lot you can learn from them. And isn’t that a large part of what relationships are all about?
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