Expectations are resentments in the making. In other words, expectations have the chance to turn into resentment when they aren’t met. Every relationship comes with expectations. Parents might expect their children to clean up after themselves. Someone might expect to see his/her friend every Friday for the film night. Couples may expect to share all personal details with one another.
It is important to note that not every expectation turns into resentment. It’s fairly normal to expect certain things from others. For example, in a shared student house, every tenant will be expected to pay a certain amount of rent towards the shared living costs. An agreement will have been made before each tenant entered this arrangement and if everyone pays their rent every month, no resentment will arise.
If your partner has agreed to cook every evening and you have agreed to clean up after dinner then nothing’s wrong with having the expectation that your partner will cook as long as you clean up after. There is no reason for resentment because the expectations are clear and have been agreed to. However, it’s different if expectations are solely alive in your head.
Parents love their children and have taken care of them all their lives. They are likely to have set rules while their children lived with them but then suddenly the child has grown up, has become an adult and has moved out. Often, parents struggle when their children are ‘about to leave the nest’. They might be scared of losing them, for example, and they might feel like they want the ‘child’ to come back and visit them once a week (or any other number of times). At first, the ‘child’ may feel the same need to visit home once a week and all expectations are met. But after a while, this could change. The ‘child’ may have grown more independent, have a job, papers to study, friends to see etc. and he or she might stop visiting home as frequently as before.
If by then, the parents have started expecting their child to come home every week resentment might start building.
This example is not only applicable to parents and their children. Similar situations can occur between friends. For example, friend x might want to see friend y more often than friend y wants to see friend x.
In these instances, expectations might be unfair and unrealistic. People can’t be expected to spend a set certain amount of time with other people. Of course, in order to maintain a relationship effort has to come from both parties and some contact in person might be necessary, but generally, a set number of hours or days should not be expected. Everyone is different and lives their life differently. Everyone is their own person and whatever they do and when they do it is no one else’s business.
A good way to avoid resentment and disappointment as a result of expectations, whether unrealistic or not, is by communicating. Some expectations should be discussed and addressed. It’s normal to discuss expectations when you start a new job. You and your boss are likely to talk about your contract, discuss your function etc. and thus, in other words, discuss the expectations.
Communicate with the people around you and don’t lay a claim on anyone. Let’s say you have made plans with a friend to see a movie and your friend ends up cancelling. It is likely that you will be disappointed if you wanted to see the movie with your friend. However, you will feel resentment if you expected to see the movie with your friend.
Of course, there are also some instances when resentment might be justified if expectations aren’t met. For example, when money isn’t returned after you lent it to a friend. You and your friend probably didn’t sign an agreement or a contract on beforehand, but it’s common knowledge that money should be paid back if borrowed. If money isn’t returned, resentment might be in place.
Expectations aren’t always resentments in the making and they don’t have to be, but they certainly can be if you have unrealistic or assumed expectations. Just let the people around you be themselves and all is well.