Deadly Expectations


Our first night out (alone) in Australia.

Brendan, ever the gentleman, held open the door of the building. We had agreed to walk because we were close to numerous restaurants.

“Where do you want to go?” he asked.

“Uh, well….since I don’t know any places here or really where we are, I’m not sure.”

I admit I felt a little disappointed at his lack of planning. It’s not like I could offer any ideas either since I knew nothing about the area.

“Well, what do you feel like eating?”

“Maybe we can start walking and see if something appeals to us?” I suggested.

We wandered down the street, my stomach starting to growl because it was nearly 8 p.m. After considering a few places, we settled on a cozy Italian establishment that offered warm, gentle lighting and renaissance walls. I figured we couldn’t go wrong with Italian cuisine. How wrong I was!

Brendan had to ask for menus, napkins, silverware, and water which were brought one item at a time (yes, even each fork, knife and spoon). After a mediocre meal, we decided to fore-go dessert. We couldn’t seem to attract the attention of anyone who looked remotely prepared to bring us a dessert menu or take our order. While we waited for the check, our first disagreement erupted and smoldered.

I had expected to be swept off my feet.

The sweeping would happen as a result of a perfectly planned evening (by Brendan) at an accommodating restaurant where dinner would taste divine, and we would share a delectable dessert over fascinating conversation. Then perhaps more romantic wooing with a stroll down the beach holding hands and sharing our dreams for the future. The strolling, of course, would be punctuated with a few well-timed kisses. Finally, he would escort me home with gallant intentions to protect my honor by restraining himself at the door with a lingering gaze and a kiss just passionate enough to leave us satisfied yet wanting.  I would then proceed to drift off to sleep with dreams of the enchanting night we shared on our first night out alone.

The evening wasn’t unfolding as I planned in my mind.

I did attempt gracious acceptance since I loved Brendan and was happy to be with him, but I began to feel increasingly disappointed. My grand expectations and hopes for our wonderful evening out together dictated my emotions so when Brendan made a comment and I disagreed what resulted was a defensive standoff that had no place in my plans for the previously mentioned romance. Naturally, the disagreement added to my frustration.

I don’t remember even a hint of what we argued about.

Part of the problem was the expectations I had regarding our date. The evening needed to look a particular way in order for me to be content. Flexibility wasn’t the issue. We didn’t have to eat at a particular restaurant or order something specific. I wasn’t looking for precise words or actions, but in my heart I had unknowingly set up a scenario that required adherence to (at least) the most general of details. And, I expected Brendan to telepathically pick up on my disappointment, apologize sincerely and fix it. Except that I didn’t even know that’s what I was thinking.

I realize now that expectations like that can be deadly.

The best thing to do is communicate. My fear of hurting Brendan’s feelings or sounding like a demanding shrew kept me silently scrambling to figure out everything in my head. But if I had shared what I was struggling with, we could have worked things out. Maybe we would have argued, but probably we would have ended up laughing over it all.

Love covers over so many things and makes a place for us to share what’s in our hearts—both the good and the bad. Fear keeps us trapped while we question our desires and the other person’s motives. Fear made me judge Brendan’s lack of planning and foresight and offered me the conclusion that it revealed a lack of care for me. I didn’t realize all of that at the time, but I did want to put aside whatever it was in me that was creating discontent.

In order to salvage what I thought was a ruined evening; I suggested a walk on the beach in the moonlight…

Have you ever been disappointed when your expectations weren’t met? How did you handle it?

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