A couple of weeks ago we had coffee with a friend who was clearly upset and wanted to vent. She was complaining that her boyfriend of eight months hadn’t proposed to her. We asked her why she was so upset.

“I just expected to be married already. I’m 28 after all. I don’t have a lot of time to waste,” she said.

Friends, welcome to the world of Not So Great Expectations. People in general (and ladies of Generation Y) have a tendency to have high expectations for ourselves in all aspects of our lives. Some expectations are wonderful and helpful to have, like, for example, the expectation of staying in shape, getting a good education, or working hard in your chosen career. Some expectations, however, are not as helpful, such as the expectation that you have to be married at a certain age, that you have to have children by the time you’re 30, that you need to choose a particular career to make your parents happy, that you need to make X amount of money, etc.

How, then, does that apply to dating? Because unnecessary expectations rush the natural process of getting to know one another. It takes the fun and magic out of dating. For instance, if you think to yourself “We need to be exclusive by date X” or “He needs to buy me Y on my birthday or Valentine’s Day to prove he truly loves me” or “He needs to spend four months salary on an engagement ring,” you’re taking the spontaneity out of your relationship.

Some people we know also have the expectation that they always need to be in a good mood or can’t express themselves or have to put up with things that make us uncomfortable and have to fit into this unrealistic ideal of what a perfect girlfriend should be. We maintain that it’s these unnecessary expectations that ruin potentially great relationships.

A great source of misery for many people is when they compare their relationships to others. We waste so much of our lives worrying about what society and other people think. At the end of the day, you have one life to live, and you have to do what feels right for you. Listen to your intuition and do what makes you feel happy — genuinely, authentically happy. Only you are living your life. You can get married at whatever age you feel like, or not get married at all, have children if you want them, or not, if you don’t. We promise you’ll be happier when you begin to live your life for you.

 

Put it on paper 

 

We’d like you to try this little exercise. On one sheet of paper, write down the word “Expectations.” Write down all of the expectations you have in your life (be it financial, relationship, friendship, career, health) and on a second piece of paper, write down the word “Beliefs.” Write down each belief that goes along with that expectation. For example, say you have an expectation that you have to make a lot of money. The belief that goes along with that expectation might be that money brings prestige or high social status. The point of this exercise is to examine the beliefs that underlie your expectations and to keep the ones that are serving you, and discard the ones that aren’t serving you. Until next time, remember, all is well.

 

Simone is pursuing her master’s degree in psychology and serves on the Commission for the Senior Community. She prides herself on having had more marriage proposals than shoes. She can be reached at sgordon1@uoregon.edu. In her inner circle, Limor, a screenwriter, is known as the “wing woman” and her cell number has become the hotline for dating advice. You can reach her at limorygottlieb@gmail.com