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  • Writer's pictureMarianne Wieland


We all have them. Expectations develop without our even thinking about it. Like an automatic response. Often, we don't even realize it until someone asks us what we expect out of a certain situation. Are expectations bad? They can be, but some are necessary. They just need to be managed in a way that they are productive and not destructive. If we threw all expectations out the window, what would become of our children? Example: If we had no expectations of the actions of our children, would they even try in school? Would they understand what it means to work for a living or for things they want? Would they understand human compassion? Expectations are needed as a parent. Best to sit the kids down and discuss what is expected and also explain consequences if these expectations are not met.

On the other hand, some expectations are unreasonable. Should we expect an 'A' on every test? Expectations for the youngest to be the same as the expectations of the oldest? Expectations to be the same as other children in the family or circle of friends? Maturity levels to be the same in all the children? All this does is create stress in children because these things are hard for them to understand and even harder to try to live up to. Many parents do not even realize they are doing this until they have a stressed out, depressed child on their hands. Children will 'act out' their stress because they don't know how to handle expectations that are unknown.

The workplace is another example of necessary expectations. You are expected to arrive on time, do the work you were hired for and remain professional at all times. These expectations, in most places of employment, are written out when you are hired in. There are consequences if not followed. Yet, you should not be expected to do work you have not been trained for, give special favors to the boss or other employees to be able to keep your job or work for no compensation unless you are doing volunteer work. Expectations in the workplace are needed to run the business.

Relationships. Here is where it gets difficult. Should you have expectations in your relationship? To have none is foolish. But to have many, usually based on past experiences or the opinions of others, is usually setting the relationship up for destruction. Example: You should expect that you will not be abused, either mentally or physically. You should expect common courtesy, safety, and if you are married or in a serious relationship, trust. You should not put expectations on your partner of a certain amount of love or a certain kind. Those things develop over a period of time and should be mutual. Starting a relationship with a mindset of how the other person should be, sets yourself and the other person up for a lot of stress. In a new relationship, very minimal expectations, other than the basics, are for the best.

Having expectations thrust upon you that you are unaware of, or putting them on your partner, sets the stage for anxiety and depression. I deal with this with the majority of those I counsel. And being a counselor does not make me immune from falling into this trap myself. I struggle with this on a daily basis and I am sure others that counsel have the same struggles.

It is not easy to manage expectations in any romantic relationship or even of close friendships. The best advice I can give is when you see that you are having expectations that the other person may not be aware of, have a heart to heart talk. Try to come to an understanding. This can do a lot to decrease the level of anxiety that comes from simply 'not knowing' and the inevitable depression that settles in from trying to guess what is on another person's mind and heart. If you find yourself repeating the same patterns, seek help before you fall into a serious depressive event.

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