All relationships are based on expectations. It doesn’t matter what kind of relationship it is, or between whom or what the relationship is. It could be a romantic relationship between two people, a partnership, friendship, between businesses and clients, or for a few technical examples, relationships between two tables in a database, or between two computers trying to establish a TCP/IP connection. Either side, and there could be more than two sides or parties involved, expect one or more things from the other side in order for the relationship to be established and to keep existing. The relationship cannot keep existing if either side does not meet the other’s expectations, and in such a case has no use.
In this post I’ll concentrate more on romantic relationships, or relationships based on love. So when I use the word relationship, that’s what I mean from now on.
In my opinion, the only expectation that should exist in a romantic relationship between two people, is giving and receiving love. Any romantic relationship which is based on other needs is doomed to fail. This has always been my main requirement for entering into a romantic relationship with someone else. The only thing I would expect from her, is to love me and give me enough attention and anything that naturally comes with that. I wouldn’t expect anything else. And I would want her to expect the same from me.
These days people enter into relationships with all kinds of wrong motives and expectations. This is one of the reasons why many relationships don’t work in the long term. For example, you have women, usually in their late 20s when they feel like they have partied enough and want a more stable life now, looking for men “to take care of them.” You have women with overly unrealistic views about love, romance and potential partners, expecting to find their soul mate – the perfect guy who will be able to satisfy their every need, who will forget about his own life and completely devote himself to them and turn their lives into some kind of fairy tale. You have young boys and girls wanting to be with someone to be popular, or to be able to feel like they are a part of something. Unfortunately a lot of these wrong motives and expectations are being programmed into people by society starting from very early childhood. Take a look at what psychoanalyst Karen Horney M.D. said:
In her essay entitled “The Problem of Feminine Masochism” Horney felt she proved that cultures and societies worldwide encouraged women to be dependent on men for their love, prestige, wealth, care and protection. She pointed out that in the society, a will to please, satiate and overvalue men had emerged. Women were regarded as objects of charm and beauty—at variance with every human being’s ultimate purpose of self-actualization.
Relationships based on such motives don’t have a lot of potential to last long, simply because they are based on the wrong things. If a girl is with you because of your money, what do you think will happen when one day you don’t have enough of it anymore? If she’s with you because of your social status (prestige, influence, authority etc.), what do you think will happen when one day you lose it?
A relationship based on love has the most potential to last long. It doesn’t mean that it will always last long, but just that it has the best chances to last long. And here, I’m talking about a relationship between two people as we know it in the traditional sense, where they remain faithful to each other and essentially agree to belong to each other (with or without marriage). Even this relationship, even though it has the best chances to last longer, often doesn’t last very long these days. One reason why this is the case is because people and situations can change over time. Apart from the fact that people can naturally change over time, it’s often also the case that they were just pretending to be someone else at the start of the relationship, just to meet the other’s expectations in order to establish the relationship. You can’t pretend to be someone else your whole life, and sooner or later, the other person will start to see the real you. Apart from the fact that it’s not easy to pretend to be someone else your whole life, you can also never be happy being someone else and doing the things that you don’t like.
Another reason why such a relationship doesn’t last very long, is that it is often limiting to both people involved, and its duration will depend on the level at which both people are able to live with the limitations they impose on each other. I wrote before about love and limitations, and I wrote back then that such a relationship is not natural. People naturally want to be and feel free. And so limitations in relationships, or with regard to love, will only cause trouble. Karen Horney indicated the following in her article “The Problem of the Monogamous Ideal”:
[…] the overestimation of love leads to disillusionment; the desire to possess the partner results in the partner wanting to escape; and the taboos against sex result in non-fulfillment. Disillusionment plus the desire to escape plus non-fulfillment result in a secret hostility, which causes the other partner to feel alienated. Secret hostility in one and secret alienation in the other cause the partners to secretly hate each other. This secret hate often leads one or the other or both to seek love objects outside the marriage or relationship.
Such a relationship also forces people to live with each other’s negative traits because they’ve tied themselves to each other. They can’t just enjoy the things they like about each other anymore; they’re now also forced to live with, and accept, the things they don’t like about each other, which also contributes a lot to people starting to (secretly) hate each other eventually.
And so it appears that any kind of relationship between lovers will ultimately lead to problems, no matter how strong their love may be, and no matter how pure their intentions and motives may be. In fact, it’s clear that relationships can have such a seriously negative impact on lovers, to the point that they can even grow to hate each other.
Essentially, what I’m saying is that relationships in the traditional sense (boyfriend-girlfriend, husband-wife) and love, don’t belong together. Why? Because it’s not natural, and anything that is not natural, will require a lot of (wasted) energy to keep going, while in extreme cases causing a lot of devastation in the lives of the ones involved. Indeed it seems that if you truly love someone, you should avoid a relationship with them in the traditional sense at all costs.