Uncommunicated Expectations

Silent Suffering: Uncommunicated Expectations

A few weeks ago, I discussed putting yourself back out there and managing attention seeking behavior. Today, I want to talk about what happens after you’ve met someone. How do you effectively express your needs in a culture of uncommunicated expectations?

Let’s assume you’ve cozied up with a partner who shares similar goals. You’re mutually aligned in your desires, interests and big-picture life plans. This is where a lot of couples fall prey to comfortability. They stop putting in the work. 

Open Communication: Recommended Daily

Just because you’ve found your person, doesn’t mean your work is done and it’s smooth sailing till death do you part. Often the strongest, most compatible couples fall victim to uncommunicated expectations, miscommunication, and false assumptions.

Just as it was important to find someone that shared the same intentions, likes, or interests as you, it is equally important to ensure the expectations within those shared beliefs and ideals are communicated routinely.

It is just as important to address the uncommunicated expectations of your daily routines as it is the big life-altering decisions. Small false assumptions can slowly cripple a couple overtime. 

How often is it the small, every-day things that go wrong resulting in a disproportionately large reaction because you were fed up and just exploded?

An apple a day keeps the Doctor away, but daily dialogue keeps the divorce attorneys at bay. 

Nourish your relationship with a daily check in. Before you go to sleep each night, open a dialogue with your partner. Make this part of your bedtime routine, and never go to bed angry again. Ask each other things like:

He Should Have Known

Your partner can not read your mind. You cannot expect them to know and remember all of your likes, dislikes, preferences, etc. 

For example, I once had a client who was absolutely irate that her match had taken her out on his boat for their third date. When I pushed her for clarification she explained that on their first date she told him, “I’m not a very outdoorsy person.”

She then felt as if he hadn’t listened to her and ultimately disrespected her by taking her to do something she (in her mind) had explicitly told him she would hate.

From the outside looking in, it’s clear this was just a matter of uncommunicated expectations. Don’t assume others will interpret your words correctly. Be specific when you communicate your needs, boundaries, etc.

At the center of all failed partnerships is a breakdown of communication, in part because we tend to assume things rather than talk about them. All too often we take each other and for granted and in that, we make assumptions about one another that we compartmentalize silently.

In fact, the better a couple knows one another, the more likely they are to make assumptions instead of asking the other person directly. And you know what they say about people who assume things...they make an ass out of you and me.

Do not assume, just ask.

No Days Off

People are constantly evolving, as are our relationships. It’s an organic process. That said, expectations of a relationship can change over time.  

Maybe you have to relocate for work and your partner is not moving with you. You never consciously entered into a long-distance relationship, but now here you are.

No matter what the pending distance you will soon face, it will challenge your commitment with a decline in the amount of quality time you will spend together. So, be sure to set and communicate newfound expectations, as it relates to this new facet of your relationship.  

How do you navigate this new normal? Do you now need to talk or FaceTime daily or multiple times a week? Whatever you both decide needs to be discussed before moving day. Without setting and discussing these expectations, especially when there are sudden and unexpected changes, no relationship, long-distance or otherwise, will survive.

When in Doubt Talk it Out

Have you ever heard someone say the cause of their divorce was too much communication? Because I haven’t.

Don’t assume your partner is aware of something if you haven’t discussed it. Conversely, don’t use your partner’s lack of awareness as a weapon. Often, couples will accuse one another of not being present in the relationship if the other was not aware of a particular conflict or issue. 

No one will ever fault you for talking through things to establish and clarify expectations. 

Couples that maintain strong bonds, long-term relationships, and successful marriages put all their cards on the table. They will communicate anything and everything to one another out of mutual respect and love. It is not an annual exercise, it’s a daily process that fortifies even the strongest of relationships.

So don’t let your relationship fall ill to uncommunicated expectations. Think of communication as a necessary part of your relationship’s daily upkeep. So be sure to get your daily dose of dialogue in. You will build a strong, lasting bond with your partner that will be able to withstand whatever changes come your way.


Love Languages in the time of COVID

Love Languages in the Time of COVID

Are you familiar with the Five Love Languages? Today, we're going to take a look at all Five Love Languages in the time of COVID, and how to express each of them in a safe and healthy way.

Gary Chapman developed the theory over 25 years ago. The Five Love Languages states that everyone has a preference on how they like to give and receive love.

The Five Love Languages are: Words of Affirmation, Gifts, Acts of Service, Quality Time, and Physical Touch.

Throughout 2020, we have had to adapt and learn new ways to exist in a world where our interactions with other people are more limited and restricted than any other period in modern history. 

For single people, this has been particularly challenging. Humans are social animals. Isolation is unnatural and uncomfortable. Lucky for us, we have technology which provides safer alternatives to in-person physical contact. It’s not a perfect system, especially if you’re looking for love.

Words of Affirmation

Let’s start with an easy one, shall we?

It only takes a few seconds of your time to make someone else’s entire day. Compliment the people you care about. Send them a quick text that you’re thinking of them. When they say or do something that makes you happy, tell them so. 

The good news is that a global pandemic doesn’t hinder our ability to speak this love language. Whether it’s a Zoom call or a carrier pigeon, it’s important that you make an effort to express your feelings, especially if Words of Affirmation is one of your partner’s primary Love Languages. 

Gifts

Luckily, we live in an age where you can have pretty much any good or service delivered to your door quickly and safely. We have options, it’s not just orchids or roses anymore, fellas. So, this is another Love Language that hasn’t been hit too terribly hard by COVID-19.

Gifts need not be expensive or extravagant. Of course, they can be, but the point is to fill your partner’s love tank, not shower her with diamonds. In a world where restaurants and bars are closed, use small tokens and gifts to fill the void caused by the Coronavirus. 

Acts of Service

This is where things start to get a little more difficult. Social distancing makes doing the small everyday acts of kindness tougher. This is the best Love Language for creativity and thinking outside the box.

Try to anticipate and alleviate your partner’s pain points to the best of your ability. What is causing her stress at this moment in her life? Is there anything you can do to lessen or eliminate that burden?

Quality Time

I’ve seen a trend online where couples are complaining about having too much Quality Time while they’re on lockdown together. 

So, what I want to do is look at the opposite. Single adults who live alone are experiencing the worst of this, in my very humble opinion. 

If you don’t have children who live at home, there’s a good chance you’ve spent a significant portion of the last 9 months in complete isolation. I know I have.

How can you spend Quality Time with someone when you’re not allowed to be around them?

Find new ways to do and experience things together. Even if you can’t be in one another’s space, there are safe, socially distant, outdoor activities you can do together.

A lot of places like museums and zoos have added features to their websites where you can do virtual tours and watch live feeds. It’s not the same as being there in-person holding hands, but it’s the next best thing.

Keep in mind, the objective is Quality Time, not necessarily quantity. Your goal is to show her spending time with her and learning more about her is important to you even though it’s not easy to do right now. Women want to see you put in an effort especially when there are barriers to overcome. 

FaceTime is your friend. I know the last thing you want to do between back-to-back Zoom meetings is more video calls, but being able to see one another right now is so important. Calls and texts only go so far.

Physical Touch

To all of my Physical Touch people, I know your pain and I wish I could give you all a hug!

My poor dog practically runs and hides when he hears me say the word cuddle these days. We are struggling, but we are surviving!

“Make sure you are taking time to connect physically with your loved ones. Give a shoulder rub. Cozy up as you read a book. Just be mindful to break from the digital routine for some good, old fashioned connection via Physical Touch.”

- Gary Chapman, on Love Languages in the time of COVID

The nation’s top epidemiologists recommend wearing a mask when interacting with anyone outside of your household, this includes during intercourse. So kissing is on hold.

Get creative. One woman built a Hug Glove out of clear plastic with sleeves.

We need to touch and we need to be touched. Depriving oneself of human contact can lead to a decline in both physical and mental health.

It’s important that you really take the time to weigh the pros and cons and do a risk assessment before partaking in physical intimacy with another person during this time.

I encourage you to lean on Words of Affirmation, Gifts, and Acts of Service during this time. If you’re unable to see one another in person safely, make sure you’re filling each other’s love tanks in other ways, lest the spark die out. 

What are your Love Languages in the time of COVID? You can take the quiz here to find out.