Overcoming the Expectation Model: How to Develop A Healthy Alternative to Living


“There were two ways to be happy: improve your reality, or lower your expectations” 
― Jodi PicoultNineteen Minutes

I don’t know about everyone else, but I have expectations.

Whether they are based on reality or not, I tell myself that if A happens, then B is surely to follow.  May not be today or maybe not tomorrow, but I am going to get what I desire sooner or later.  Even if I have to harass someone or manipulate a situation to achieve a goal that is only known to me.

I followed this model for a long extended period of time with spurts of victory here and there–only because I worked diligently to make that magic happen.  This model was usually applied to a relationship I worked to achieve.  I had this notion that, once you slept with me, we were together.  Whether you liked it or not. It only worked on one person.  Everyone else decided to either walk away or to run away.  Either way, the Expectation Model was a complete failure in most cases.

Yet I still used this model in every aspect of my life, especially after I had an affair with someone.  I would tell myself that, no matter how the person felt about me, my vagina was somehow going to change their minds.  After we slept together, I expected phone calls, flowers, hugs, kisses, time and respect.  I expected my sex partners to not want to chase after everyone else because, after being with me, why would they want to?

Well, it took a recent incident with a former sex partner to realize that the Expectation Model not only hurts me as a human being, but others who are the target of this manipulation.  This person told me that they are very uncomfortable around me, that they are guarded around me to the point of watching everything they say to me.  They told me I was placing them in the position of being chased when they only wanted to a friendship.  That, when I apologize, it means very little because my actions do not reflect my words.  But most of all, my expectations were high on my end, even after being informed numerous times that the chances of us being in a relationship was very slim.

But what bothers me the most (even as I write this) is the look in this man’s eyes when he spoke those words.  He had the look of someone who was fed up, angry but mostly uncomfortable and sad.  When I finally saw what the Expectation Model I created has done to him, my entire being began to tremble.  I never knew what the Expectation Model did to people until that night because I have no contact with  many of my sex partners for various reasons.  However, this is the first time that I saw the devastation I caused another human being due to thinking of only myself, my needs and desires.

Since then, I have thought about all the other people who were victims of my Expectation Model.  I think about all the people I placed expectations on simply because we ended up in the same bed.  The one person I think of in particular is my ex-boyfriend Indiana.  When we initially started hanging out with one another, he told me that he was moving back to him home state within four months and that he just wanted to be my friend.  But knowing me, I didn’t want that, but more (especially since I kissed him the first day we met.  Tells you where my head was).  That was when I started pressuring him to be with me sexually, going to his apartment hoping he’d be there.  When we finally did have sex, I knew that something was off, but ignored it anyway because I got what wanted.  It was only during the month before he left that he declared me his girlfriend on Facebook (though it was “complicated”).

When he left, I was not only devastated, but felt defective.  Was my vagina not magical enough to make him stay with me?  Was I not good enough for him?  Why was I the one being left?  I harbored those questions when I went to go visit him during Spring Break in 2010.  When we slept together during that period, all those questions went out the window and my expectations are high.  Surely, he was going to come back to me.  Surely he still loves me as much as I love him…right?

To make a long story short, he is dating someone else in his hometown and we are not speaking.  My Expectation Model did not work after all and the anger and hurt spilled forth to the point of me harassing him and attacking his relationship with a then 17 year old girl.  The truth is I am not enraged because he is with someone else (though a part of me is still hurt about the fact that he compared me to this young person).  I’m enraged because I let the Expectation Model reduce my quality of life.  I endured years of humiliation, hurt and unnecessary pain because I felt that, if I did not manipulate someone or something, I was not going to get what I wanted at that moment.  It ruined friendships and any other chance of me having meaningful relationships with others.

Why do I write all this?  And what does this have to do with trauma?  I write this because, though everyone has expectations to some degree, people who have been traumatized tend to have much extensive problems pertaining to expectations.  Due to not having our expectations met as children (or whenever the trauma started), we expect people, places and situations to fulfill those very expectations.  For instance, if we felt we were not loved and protected, we expect sex partners and significant others to fulfill those needs.  If we are overachievers (or underachievers), we feel that others should be the same way.  No matter the issue, we are placing expectations on people who can never give us what we want.  And even if they did, let’s be honest here:  it’s never ever going to be good enough.

But there is hope after all.  Those who suffer from having high expectations do not have to be this way for the rest of their lives.  In order to at least cease placing pressure on others (and yourself), the following has to happen:

1)  We have to admit that we have high expectations and how they affect us

2) After seeing how they affect us, we ask ourselves how they affect other people

3) We examine where and how it started (i.e. did someone place high expectations on you as a child?

Did it have anything to do with trauma?)

4) We take responsibility for our actions and make amends through actions (words mean nothing if people continue to be affected by your actions)

Granted, it will take time before anyone lets go of their own Expectation Model. And because emotions may sprout up, it is best to have a support system to help you get through the emotions.  But if we continue to rely on this model, we not only affect the lives of others, but we stand in the way of our own personal and spiritual growth.

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