Whether derived from pop culture, romantic novels or even pornography, our expectations of what dating is really like have become somewhat misconstrued. Fuelling the fire are the myriad of technologies and apps that make instant dating so easy.
In a world in which a simple swipe or ‘hey there’ can land you a date, are our dating expectations accurate or sorely misguided?
By the time we’ve put on our favorite shirt and styled our hair, we already have a hundred-and-one different ideas in our mind about what our date might be like in person. Will they be outgoing and bubbly? Mysterious and intelligent? Quiet and kind?
And as soon as we sit down to eat a meal or drink coffee or buy our theatre ticket, we’re making a thousand micro judgments about their character and mannerisms, ruthlessly comparing them to that precious ideal we hold in our mind. And when, alas, they fail to meet our expectations, we only find ourselves bouncing between dates once again.
I’ve found that this kind of thinking pervades many different areas of our life. We’re constantly cycling between different expectations, always viewing our experiences through the lenses of our past and potential future.
Something magical happens when you surrender your expectations, though. You feel comfortable with whatever comes your way. You see life as it is, not as you suppose it should be.
The same mindset can be applied to dating. Sure, your partner might have forgotten to say thanks to the waiter or to give you a hug when you arrived, but that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily ill-mannered - probably just nervous and forgetful.
When we surrender our unrealistic expectations of our dates, cutting them some slack and trying to see them without bias or prejudice, we stand to build a far better connection with them. Sure, they might not be the one, but we can at least give them the benefit of the doubt until they prove themselves otherwise.
Forget the Fairytales
Many people use the relationships they see in movies or read about in novels as their standard. They expect that things should always end up happily ever after and that any err from that pretty picture is unacceptable.
The thing is, all relationships are imperfect. Every couple disagrees from time to time or grinds each others’ gears - and that’s okay. The occasional squabble can be excused when the tradeoff is an otherwise happy, healthy and collaborative relationship.
On the flip side, when you’re infatuated with a new partner, it can be difficult to take off those rose-colored glasses and see them and your relationship objectively. However difficult, it’s essential that you start examining your relationships to sure that they meet your (healthy and realistic) expectations.
If you’re expecting everything to be perfect all of the time, you’ll be setting yourself up for disappointment, but there’s nothing wrong with taking a step back to look things over every once in a while.
Being too idealistic early on in a relationship will only result in sadness when the fog clears and you start seeing things for how they really are. Don’t expect perfection, and remember that relationships are always being calibrated and redirected to ensure that they stay on the right path for both people.
Forget the fairytales. Focus on reality, and making sure reality is as good as it can be for both of you.