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STEP 6 - Expectations (Finding Your Ideal Soulmate!)

So you see the man/woman you fancy across the room at a party. You edge nervously towards him/her, wanting to make that crucial impression. You finally make the connection between you and you feel really happy. You punch the air with joy. A few weeks .. or even years .. later, everything stops in its tracks and you can..t understand it. End of beautiful romance or marriage. And what killed it, you wonder? Aaahh, those expectations. They just did not match up between you.

Expectations are the biggest killers of all relationships, whether new or established, since unrealistic demands and the search for perfection invariably suck the lifeblood out of a connection. Every partnership that breaks down begins its downfall when expectations go unfulfilled, which then causes frustration, resentment, anger and even violence. High expectations and the desire for perfection in our soulmates gradually erode the love and good feelings we initially have. Disappointment creeps in, a re-evaluation takes place that pushes our feelings toward the negative, and respect is gradually lost.

There are two main kinds of expectations: those that seek to change our soulmates into some perfect ideal of the desired person, and those which are impossible to fulfil because they go against our basic values and purpose. They rob of us our freedom, free choice and unique perspectives. Worst of all, they make us feel inadequate and forever below par. Both kinds of expectations are so unrealistic they are hardly ever achieved, and yet people continue to strive in vain, every day, to realise them. Wherever such expectations are fulfilled, there is likely to be a significant element of controlling, browbeating and even bullying.

There is also the anxious kind of expectation which fears commitment and assumes everyone is out to trap us into a long-term relationship, or that they should already have been partnering us!

Gender Conflict in Expectations
There is a saying that men marry women hoping they will stay the same forever while women marry men hoping to change them as soon as the ceremony is over! Expectations that involve seeking perfection are particularly soul destroying. The main trouble with wanting perfection in a relationship is that one partner..s idea of perfection will rarely coincide with that of the other, and so the desire to compete for this elusive state inevitably gets out of hand as the resulting expectations gradually damage the relationship. One can see this perfect ideal long before the two people have settled into the relationship .. at the dating stage, in fact.

It rears its ugly head whenever individuals express the desire not to connect with anyone with emotional or other ..baggage... They want a perfect being without negative feelings .. perhaps without any feeling at all, so long as they are ..happy..! But this so-called ..baggage.. contains our pain, hurt and essential issues to be resolved. It also contains our resources from which we can learn to rebuild our lives. It is an inevitable process that is crucial to our development and forms the core of who we are. The ideal situation is to carry this ..baggage.. in reducing amounts until we learn from it and let it go. But many people pretend they have no 'baggage' at all. They mask it with a lot of, ..humour.. or unforgiving seriousness while they die inside, becoming unfeeling and insensitive robots.

Every part of our experience becomes a kind of baggage that shapes our perception, alters our attitude and is then put aside in our ongoing development. As I said in my other book on relationships, ..To meet someone claiming to be without any baggage is to meet a bland, fearful idiot, unable to cope with his/her emotions or feelings; someone pretending about their life; who is constantly in denial that nothing affects them unduly while denying others the right to their own emotions and feelings. However, it is not the ..baggage.. we carry which is the main problem. It is how we handle that baggage, what we have in it, and how long we carry it for!!..(Sihera - Money, Sex & Compromise)

Conforming To Expectations
A desire for perfection means we are never happy with ourselves or our partners; never satisfied with our lives or our looks. There is always someone, or something, better just around the corner. When we meet the desired one, they have to conform to our expectations by behaving in a prescribed manner in order to merit our attention and approval.

We are not prepared to let that person unfold gradually before us, to just be themselves and surprise us with something different, en route to what might turn out to be the same end. Instead, we have high expectations about how the partner should look (like the age old cliché of ..looking sexy in a little black number..) and how they should act in public (..mustn..t drink beer from pint glasses.. or must have the right designer car and clothe) according to our identikits.

What many people don..t realise is that, should their soulmate change into the perfect ideal required, they both will be seeking different partners! Think about it carefully. People come together because they are attracted to each other .. AS THEY ARE .. not what they hope to be. Change one person to something else and s/he will then be looking for a new partner to match the new characteristics they have acquired.

That is why people who are promoted and those who undertake self-development or higher education courses during their relationships tend to gravitate towards those in a similar situation, if their spouses haven..t kept up with them. Their new status would create new expectations.

Moreover, expectations and the search for perfection tend to blind us the fact that we are far from perfect ourselves. There is a lot we too need to do to become ..perfect.. in the eyes of others, like lose that belly.., stop smoking, treat others more sensitively, become more caring etc.. The end result is that we continually circle each other with high expectations, but with no capacity to fulfil them. At the same time we miss many opportunities for greater happiness by just being ourselves and enjoying it.

About the Author: ELAINE SIHERA (Ms CYPRAH is a British writer, media contributor columnist. The first Black graduate of the OU and a post-graduate of Cambridge University, Elaine is a consultant for Diversity Management, Personal Empowerment and Relationships. An intelligent, confident expert. Elaine is the author of: 10 Easy Steps to Growing Older Disgracefully; 10 Easy Steps to Finding Your Ideal Soulmate!; Money, Sex & Compromise and Managing the Diversity Maze, among others (all available on Also the founder of the British Diversity Awards and the Windrush Achievement Awards.

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