I tend to expect from others what I’m willing and able to give of myself.
So it’s probably no surprise that I’ve become accustomed to dealing with disappointment in relationships.
And this disappointment is not just specific to romantic relationships. Over the years, I’ve struggled with friendships, work relationships, and family dynamics. With recognizing and accepting that the way I respond to or interact with others is not always what I will receive in return.
We’ve all heard some version of that quote about not expecting anything so we never have to be disappointed. But I think that’s crap.
We all enter into relationships with expectations. With ways we want to be loved. With ways we want to be respected. With ways we want to connect and communicate and be treated when life gets hard. And part of having expectations is understanding that other won’t always be able to meet them.
I’m not perfect, by any means. I am overwhelmingly human and don’t always show up as my best self. But I try to—and this leads to one of my biggest relationship struggles: realizing that just because we’re disappointed in the behavior of someone we love doesn’t mean they too weren’t trying their best in that moment.
Then it’s up to us to decide if we can accept their best and move forward or if their best will never align with how we want to be treated.
So when it comes to disappointment, I prefer to hold on to this Martin Luther King Jr. quote:
“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”
Here are 12 ways to cope, accept, and stay hopeful when someone we love disappoints us, straight from Elephant readers:
First, I eat a cookie. Then I sit with the feeling, unpack why I am disappointed, and if I am actually disappointed in them or my expectation. ~ Keera
I take into account both positions and make sure I’m not being petulant or childish in my stance. I remember their positive traits and throw a kiss to the wind and wish them well. ~ Amanda
I say the Serenity Prayer. ~ Corrinne
Well, I look at how not everything is about me…or maybe never speak to them again. Depends on my mood at the time… ~ Barbara
Depends on how many times one is disappointed. At some point, if it keeps occurring, one has to let the other person go. I’ve had to do that a couple of times. One came back into my life almost 20 years later. Now we’re friends again. Learning to let go is key to self-happiness. ~ Scott
I will stop, evaluate, then communicate. Each situation is unique and there are no cut and dry answers. The key is mutual respect. ~ Candy
Try to come to accept that not everyone is you. And, mostly people are doing the best they can. ~ Kathy
Better than I used to. Several things have helped: most of the time other people’s actions have very little to do with you and everything to do with where that other person is mentally. They may not be in a space where they are capable of being there for you in the way that you need. I learned to be grateful for those moments. They are showing me, through their actions, that they aren’t what I need. I think, “Thank you for showing me where you are so I can look elsewhere for what I need.” It’s okay to need more, you may just have to find it somewhere else. People can only show up for you to the extent that they show up for themselves. ~ Patricia
I try to remind myself that if I am disappointed, that is my emotion and probably comes from some expectation that I had of that person. People can only be what they are—not what you expect them to be. ~ Jerene
Focusing on the great things they bring into my life, and if they don’t bring any, bye. ~ Maud
I allow us both our experiences and I attempt to sit with my emotions and move on as quickly as possible. It also helps to remember that I am occasionally on the other side of that equation, disappointing someone I love, too. It’s life. ~ Jill
One is a mistake, second time is a choice, third time is habit. I give people the three strike rule and then they’re out .~ Joe