“Great” expectations: Habits & relationships

Today, and every day for the last few months, I have wondered about the habits we perform in romantic relationships: physical ones, mental ones, and most especially, emotional ones. You know what I mean; these habits are the little tics, the behaviors, the thought patterns unique to you that seem to migrate from one person you’re with to another.

Like for me, I know my fingers will always find their way around the hair at the base of his neck, no matter who it is. I know, that for the first few months — or even year — together, I will be a creature of insecurities, constantly comparing myself to their exes, telling myself I’m not good enough. And finally, I know my expectations, molded by the fire and friction of previous relationships, will cause me to be disappointed if he doesn’t meet them.

It feels like I have a template for relationships that changes subtly with each man. Ex #1 made me love men who could talk. Ex #2 made me love men who could dance. Ex #3 made me love men who did sweet little gestures for me. You know, etc. With the end of each relationship, that template would evolve and take a life of its own, like some constantly shifting microorganism, altering itself after some change in its environment. Little by little, the template adapts to incorporate traits that I love, and to accommodate for the traits that I, shall we say, don’t love, but am willing to tolerate.

This is fair, right? This is the part people always optimistically talk about — that grand experiment of dating different people to figure out what you like and don’t like, right?

Well, that all seems fine, but… what if you’re a neurotic freak who holds on to the past? What if that’s the case?

How would I know to trust my template? How would I know I’m being fair in my evaluation of the person I’m with? How would I know my expectations are still legitimate to hold on to? How would I know if my habit of holding on to these expectations is still healthy? Is it even right to hold on to expectations in relationships?

I don’t know the answers to these questions, and frankly, I’ve always been wary of ambiguity. I need rubrics, comparisons, examples, and long, drawn-out discussions with girlfriends who are just as neurotic as me, if not more so. Obviously.

This habit of mine, of keeping a death grip on my ideals based on past relationships, is not as cute as my finger wrapping around his hair. And although it’s perfectly natural that certain habits apply to my next relationship, the extent to which I let other habits overtake my relationship should be mindfully kept in check. Habits are hard to break, and are relics from our past that may no longer be relevant to our present.


Daily Post prompt: Expectation

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