Relationship Advice: What To Expect When you Expect Too Much

By Jackie Pilossoph, Founder, Divorced Girl Smiling, the place to find trusted, vetted divorce professionals, a podcast, website and mobile app.

“Don’t expect anything and you’ll never be disappointed.” That was said to me by a friend a long, long time ago. At the time, I felt like she was being pessimistic and negative. I was very very wrong. Not only is this not a negative way of thinking, but it’s smart, and here is why.


Let’s back up to when we are babies. We expect that our parents are going to give us a bottle when we are hungry. We expect that they are going to change our diaper when we are wet. And we expect they are going to come into our room and get us out of our crib when we wake up. That’s why babies stand up and start jumping, and their faces light up when their parents come into the room. They expected that was going to happen and it did, and they are really happy about it.


So when we grow up, we are naturally trained to expect certain things without even thinking about it, and those patterns could bleed into what we expect from certain people in our lives, most notably a spouse.


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Having expectations from a spouse (and former spouse) has always gotten me into trouble. Being the romantic novelist that I am, there have been times when I expected men in my life to do things they didn’t end up doing. For example, I would be disappointed that a boyfriend didn’t do anything special for a big birthday, or anniversary, or that he didn’t one of my siblings on her birthday, or that he didn’t acknowledge my hard work of landing a new job, by saying “Let’s go out for diner and celebrate.”


I’m not saying I threw fits and told the boyfriends I was upset, but deep down, I was disappointed and sad by expectations I created myself, that probably never even dawned on the boyfriends. Now, you might think I sound like a spoiled little entitled bitch, but I’m really not. I’m just a woman. And many women want the fairytale. We want to feel like we are in a romance novel. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just in our nature.


But instead of expecting, (which gets you into trouble, because you only end up bummed out and frustrated), why not change your thinking?



No one should be expected to do one fucking thing for you. He or she should want to do it, he or she should think of it themselves, and it should come from their heart. And if they don’t, that should be totally OK.


I would say I am a giver. I enjoy doing nice things for others. I try to go out of my way to do acknowledge people’s successes, events and happy or sad times with thoughtful emails or texts. That is why when I expect to hear from someone on a certain occasion and I don’t, I get hurt, sometimes angry, and sad. But here is why that is a bad thing. Just because if the tables were turned, I would have handled things differently, that doesn’t mean I should expect they will choose to do this.


Even when it comes to an ex, expecting him or her to step up can only lead to resentment and bad feelings. On the flipside, if your ex does something kind that you didn’t expect, isn’t that a great feeling? So, stop expecting.


You also shouldn’t have unrealistic expectations for yourself. Give yourself a little break! An old boss used to say to me, “all you can do is do the best work you can. No one can ever take that away from you, and that is the only thing that is in your control. If you go home every night knowing you did your job to the best of your ability today, you will be successful.”


When it comes to what to expect, expect that you will wake up tomorrow and every day after and be the best person you can possibly be—to your children, your family, your friends, your spouse, in business, and even with your ex. You are not without flaws, so there will be challenges and screw ups and things that mess with your plan. Those are things you should FOR SURE expect! But perfection and unrealistic goals? The sooner you let go of that, the happier of a person you will be.


There are a few things you can do instead of living your life full of expectations.


Communicate. If you want something from your spouse or girlfriends or anyone, instead of sitting around expecting it, talk to them. Ask for what you want. I hate when women say, “He should have know and thought of it himself.” Wrong.


            Pray. I truly believe in the power of prayer. Instead of expecting that your boyfriend will give you a ring, pray not for the ring or to be married, but rather that your relationship continues to be as amazing and beautiful and fulfilling as it is. The rest will come eventually. But don’t expect it.


            Hope. Not expecting anything doesn’t mean you don’t think anything good will happen, or that you have low standards. It just means that instead of expecting it, you are just going to live a life that makes you happy and hope for the important things in life—health, healthy children, healthy family, financial safety, etc. And it is OK to hope that your boyfriend pops the question someday. But you should be able to say, “I hope he does, but if he isn’t ready yet, that’s OK.”


I have to end this piece by saying that tomorrow is my birthday, and as I was writing this piece, the doorbell rang. I answered it and standing there was a florist delivering flowers to me from my boyfriend. VERY UNEXPECTED!!

Like this post? Check out my blog, “The Perfect Kiss.”


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    Editor-in-chief: Jackie Pilossoph

    Jackie Pilossoph is the Founder of Divorced Girl Smiling, the media company that connects people facing with divorce to trusted, vetted divorce professionals. Pilossoph is a former NBC affiliate television journalist and Chicago Tribune/Pioneer Press features reporter. Her syndicated column, Love Essentially was published in the Chicago Tribune/Pioneer Press and Tribune owned publications for 7 1/2 years. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism from Boston University. Learn more at:

    2 Responses to “Relationship Advice: What To Expect When you Expect Too Much”

    1. Aj

      Tomorrow is my birthday! And i expect that me and my boyfriend will celebrate it, but some problem cames. My boyfriend told me that we cant see each other on that day ????????


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