We all have needs. Despite our efforts to fulfill our own needs and wants by ourselves and with our own devices, we as humans long for human connection. Human connection can range from the simple to the complex- and relationships allow complex human interactions to be experienced by us.
In relationships, expectations are extremely hard to avoid. Although we try to fulfill ourselves, once we engage in a relationship, we tend to set expectations and standards for our partners and ourselves to fulfill. Although some will tell you that all expectation will lead to suffering, I don’t see it as that black and white.
Relationships, as well as the experience of life, are dynamic- there are different levels and intensities that we can experience. In relationships, conditions are hard to to avoid.
Unconditional Love but Conditional Relationships
I find it best to approach relationships with this distinction in mind- you can express unconditional love for your partner, but your relationship is subject to conditions. A relationship is an abstract agreement, and an agreement is nothing without any standards and set points.
You can always choose to love your partner unconditionally- knowing that deep down inside you accept them completely and wholly and desire to serve them and their happiness because you accept yourself wholly and completely and are fully responsible for your own happiness. To love your partner unconditionally, you must love yourself unconditionally.
Despite that unconditional love, a relationship with set agreements in still a valid experience. You can choose whether or not you want to have any relationship- you could just choose to love your partner and expect nothing of them, but that kind of experience is not the subject of this article. Instead, the subject of this article is to explain how to lift your agreed relationship to the level of joy and happiness you both desire.
A relationship is really a focused practice- you set up agreements in order to bring form to an otherwise formless feeling- love. By making this form, you allow yourselves to experience each other in ways you would not quite be able to. By agreeing to commit only to each other, you experience feelings you would not know about if you were not committing. By agreeing to live together and share domestic responsibilities, you grant each other the opportunities to feel and respond to the demands and joys of a shared home.
Don’t judge yourself because you place expectations on your relationship- it is perfectly natural and conducive to a cohesive experience of others. But remember not to place expectation on your partner.
Expectations of Relationship vs Expectation of Your Partner
I think you will fare much better to communicate with your partner about what it is you want to work on in your relationship instead of what you would like them to work on regarding themselves. You are not responsible for their personal growth, but in a relationship, you are partly responsible for each other’s experience in the relationship since it is a symbiotic bond.
If you want more communication or affection in your relationship, you ask your partner to work on bringing more communication or affection into your shared relationship. You don’t tell them that they need to be more affectionate or communicative- instead, you tell them that you would like to both bring more of what you feel in needed into the relationship experience.
The relationship is a medium, and you as partners are the artists that mold and shape and decorate that
medium. The experience and journey of exploring and cherishing and working on that medium is the relationship, and that medium is the only way you really get to experience the other deeply. You as partners are responsible for that medium so long as you maintain the agreement to stay in a relationship.
What You Want More of, You Must First Give More Of
If you want more attention in your relationship, you must first give more attention to the relationship. You can’t have what you don’t give- and you only give what you get. It sounds cliche, but it is the truth. Before you can expect something, you really must first give it. And in doing so, you experience what you share. A relationship really is a culmination of the experiences two partners share with each other, and these experiences are first created within a partner and externalized within the relationship. There is nothing in your relationship that you don’t already have within you.
If there is anger and hate in the relationship, it did not come from nowhere. It came first from within and was then externalized and projected and experienced in the relationship.
The same goes for what you don’t have- if you don’t have enough love and joy in the relationship, you are not finding and externalizing enough love and joy within yourself. We as humans all have the capacity to feel all the emotions. We have emotional energy, and we really can turn it into any emotion. That emotional energy is potential energy, and we really do have the power to transform it into the energy we choose.
With this in mind, choose to transform that energy into what you feel you would like to experience more of, and the more you transform that energy into what you want, the less energy you have to transform into what you don’t want.
Make A Thorough Assessment of What You Want
Sit thoughtfully and consider what you want more of in the relationship. Instead of immediately thinking of what your partner isn’t giving to you, think of how you can bring more of that into your relationship.
On the subject of harm or neglect, if you want more peace and fairness in your relationship, you must first bring that peace and fairness to the relationship yourself. That means you must stand your ground and demand equal treatment, and if that equality is not manifested, you must remember that you have the choice to end your experience in that relationship and move on.
Honestly, in order to make a thorough assessment, you must first assess yourself.
Are you being good to yourself? Forgiving yourself, loving yourself, maintaining your health?
If not, first you must treat yourself well, or else that neglect will just seep into the relationship and will trigger an even bigger, deeper experience of neglect.
Remember, what is without first is within.