Shy woman meets nice but insecure man. Youngish, they are, very early twenties. Society’s new adults. His uncertainties and her timidity seem to pair nicely. She comes out of her shell of reassure him and with his indecisiveness, she never feels intimidated. Their relationship progresses slowly, no surprise here, but steadily. They’re serious about one another. The one area that presents a problem is physical intimacy. Her shyness is intense. She has little experience and rivers of fear about both anatomies. He, quite naturally, cannot decide how to move forward without making matters worse for her. For reasons that don’t require explaining, neither he nor she drink alcohol or use recreational drugs. Just in case you were wondering.
One night, as the evening was potentially moving towards being amorous, it occurred to him that he might be able to help her relax a bit if he tried joking around with her. He knew from their dating past that he could make her laugh, so he tried being silly and playful with his approach to touching, kissing and the like. There was some progress. There was some hope. He wasn’t going to rush her. She did, though, allow him to make a small advance. Over the next several weeks, and not every time they saw one another, he would turn to humor and silliness as a way to lighten her apprehensions as they found their way towards nakedness. They were engaged to be married by then and both agreed not to be overly concerned about this issue. They would wait until wed.
I’m not going to tell you the end of this saga yet. I won’t even let on if this was a real situation or an imagined one.
I will only tell you that the two brief paragraphs depicting this couple’s experience are positively saturated with unrealized and unspoken expectations.
Call it a mine field, call it an ice flow like the one the RMS Titanic steamed full ahead in to that night, call it whatever you’d like but it’s easy to recognize that expectations are anything but benign or harmless. When you step on one or run into one, the dynamics between two people shift noticeably…even dramatically. Situations that were pleasant become tense. Hearts and minds close off. Feelings are hurt and we frequently feel disrespected.
And we do not want to talk about it.
We do not want our expectations to be declared and/or discussed openly. We tend to be quite protective of our expectations, almost in a paternal/maternal way, as if they were special children of ours that no one else could really understand. And, in a very emotionally real sense, that’s because they are.
My experience with expectations is that we formed most of them in childhood and we have never allowed them to grow up.
Bitterness is the fruit that springs from thwarted expectations.
Dusty and empty are the relationships that refuse to talk them through.
It doesn’t have to be this way.