The ultimate lesson all of us have to learn is unconditional love, which includes not only others but ourselves as well. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
This post is 4 of 5 in the series: Loving Without Expectations.
When most people think of love, they imagine being in love.
They start dreaming about what their life will be like once they meet their life partner or even soul mate.
They will have romance, companionship, a house with a white picket fence and 2.4 kids.
They will meet someone who will “complete” them and someone they can share their innermost secrets with, who will love and accept them no matter what.
These spoken and unspoken expectations might be the foundation of a long-term relation, or a crushing weight that flattens any chance of true happiness.
This is because expectations can seem perfectly reasonable to one person, but an unreasonable burden to the one who is expected to fulfill all these dreams and desires.
So is it possible to love without expectation?
The answer is yes—once you know how.
Love Is a State of Mind
Love is a state of mind and not a laundry lists of needs, wants and desires.
You can love a person unconditionally, regardless of what they have done or not done.
Most of us look at our parents, family, friends, and images in the media and see what we think love is supposed to look like.
We read the magazines and websites, and go on dating websites to try to find Mr. or Ms. Right.
What we are really doing is creating an impossible fantasy world and then trying to get reality to match up to it.
We create a TV show or play or drama about what our ideal life looks like, and then try to cast real people in the roles we’ve written for them.
The opposite of loving with expectations is to love unconditionally—to just love people even if they don’t meet our expectations.
We see their innate worth and value, even if they are not the perfect “leading man” we had in mind.
Love Yourself First
Part of the reason why many people love with expectations is they think love is outside themselves, something external, when in fact, it starts within.
Many people spend so much time chasing after relationships that they seldom take the time to know themselves or to be themselves.
In some cases, they even suppress who they are in order to try to maintain a relationship with another person.
They might fake an interest in sports, for example, to hang out with a sport-crazy boyfriend.
They might have plans with their friends but drop them if their guy or gal happens to call, rather than respect their friendships and keep their word.
Many people are scared of being alone, but the truth is that you are really the only person you can ever rely on, so your expectations of yourself should be high.
You should make smart choices that help you be your best self and live your best life, and not waste time with people who don’t support you in those goals.
You can’t live your best life if you are living according to others’ expectations.
Nor can you expect someone to be their best self and live their best life if you are constantly making demands upon them based on your expectations.
Abandon Ideas of Perfection
You don’t have to be perfect to live a good life.
Other people don’t have to perfectly match your demands and expectations to stay in your life.
Sometimes your best efforts are good enough.
The answer is to love without expectation, and show compassion for and acceptance of others.
If you’re not perfect, you can’t expect others to be.
If they forgot your birthday, remember the times you have done something similar and let someone down.
In this way, love becomes more free-flowing and fun and more fulfilling.
Read more from this series on Loving Without Expectations.