Wednesday, July 2, 2008

expectation management (marcia)

Last Sunday my Bishop confirmed my theory. In front of the entire ward, he showed us a graph that statistically proved that Low Expectations is the key to happiness and success…which has been my mantra for a couple of decades now. Lest you think I am a pessimist, let me explain…

I find expectation management to be especially helpful in dating and movies. Let’s take movies for example. Example A: If I hear rave reviews of a movie, I go to the theater with pretty high expectations. I’m either disappointed because I had such high expectations or if I liked the movie, the experience wasn’t as sweet because I expected it. Example B: I went to see the latest Indiana Jones movie with very low expectations. While I wasn’t jumping out of my seat, I knew what to expect and I was sufficiently entertained for the $10 ticket. Example C: When I saw “I am Legend”, I knew nothing about the movie and I loved it – that’s the best scenario – when you have low or zero expectations and end up loving something.

In the dating realm, I don’t expect my dating life to be a chick flick with Meg Ryan magically meeting Tom Hanks at the top of the Empire State Building on Valentines Day. Instead I work on enjoying life, working hard and playing whenever I can. It works for me – I’m very happy and I enjoy my life.

Not that I haven’t seen my fair share of expectation management failures though. There was this one guy awhile ago who I thought was perfect. He was smart, successful, funny and gorgeous. We had very similar interests – which has been hard for me to find. Even though we only had one date, I was convinced everything was going to fall into place and we would live happily ever after. After that first date, he emailed a few times and would throw out teasers like “we should ….” or “I’ll call you….” But that’s all they were…teasers. My expectations (you might say they were borderline fantasies) were way out of control and the disappointment was bitter.

Translating my expectation management theory into my current dating experience, I had pretty low expectations when I started dating Clue – this is in no way a reflection on him or who he is. As Clue pointed out (see “the first step” posting), I wasn’t emotionally available because of a recent break-up. Even though I wasn’t interested in the relationship, for some reason I kept going on “one more date.” If I’m being really blunt and honest, I didn't feel a connection with Clue and there were a couple of times I dreaded an upcoming date and came very close to cancelling. Again, NO reflection on Clue.

So after a couple of months of moving at a snails pace on a rocky road, things are now pretty amazing. I’ve learned more about communication and relationship development in the past month than I have my entire life. I’ve learned about growth and being open. I’ve learned about caring for someone who has a totally different background than me and embracing and learning from the differences. There is so much that I’ve grown to admire and respect about Clue – stuff that originally unimpressed me. I guess the moral of my story is simply to give love a chance – even when you think there’s no way something will work. It took two months of Clue-sized patience and endurance to break through my walls, but now that we’re past that stage, it’s a beautiful thing.


Kris said...

That is such a nice post. Good stuff to realize. ...and you're welcome for the low expectation on Indiana Jones. :)

Leah said...

My problem is that my expectations start going through the roof when I fall for the guy. I expect that he feels the same for me, and then it turns out he doesn't. But I am happy to read this post as I have a date this weekend with someone I'm not thrilled about. I'm giving it a chance, though - it reminds me of what you said about Clue. Maybe this Phil will turn into something. Either way he'll be like my Indiana Jones experience - fine, worth the 10 bucks.

Marnie said...

Oh expectations are so dangerous!! I totally know that from SO many past experiences. But I haven't figured out how to do the hope thing without gaining all these expectations! Because I think hope is so important in dating and getting in a good relationship. So how do we get that balance??? I'm stumped!