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Expectations of Your Partner

You want to respect your partner and not try to tell them who or how to be, so you tell yourself not to have expectations.  Then later you feel disappointed when things don't happen the way you would like.

It's true that having unspoken expectations can lead you into demands and resentment.  However, when you try not to have expectations you are often ignoring your needs.  You are then left in the precarious position of just hoping your partner will know what you need.

When you name your needs and make present moment, specific, and connected requests, you give a gift to your partner and your relationship.  S/he gets to expand skills and understanding about how to offer love and support.

Sometimes your partner doesn't receive your requests like a gift.  When your partner responds to a request with, "I am just not that kind of person.  I can't do what you ask." This is an invitation for dialogue.  In this dialogue it helps to connect around these three main points:

§       What did your partner hear?  S/he may have heard criticism and/or demand.  Perhaps your partner has a need for appreciation for the ways s/he is already meeting your needs.  Perhaps hearing that you support his or her autonomy would help.

§       Is there a value or need that s/he thinks will be unmet by saying yes to your request?  It can be helpful here to describe the future situation in which your partner is following through on your request to see how s/he imagines it will not meet needs.

§       Check in with the energy of your request.  If you are coming from a place of scarcity and desperation, you may unknowingly create a cycle of rescuer and rescuee.  Your partner may be trying to break out of this cycle by saying no.  If you are feeling desparate, it helps to get connected to all the other ways you could get your need met.  Finding your own sense of choice and resource helps you make requests from an open-hearted centered place.

Take a moment to notice if you are holding any unspoken expectations of your partner.  Is your partner already meeting these expectations?  If yes, have you shared appreciation with her or him (being specific about needs met)?  If no, take a moment to translate your expectation into a need and specific request.  If you feel tight around the request, bring your awareness to all the other choices you have about meeting that need.

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Basics for Self-Empathy
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Setting Boundaries around Reactivity


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