Expectations are tricky. On the one hand, they can push us to be better. On the other, they can set us up to see what we wish to see, rather than what is.
Let me back up a bit. So when I think of my personal relationships, I imagine a sphere within a sphere within a sphere, like Russian Dolls. The inner sphere/doll are the people I consider “mine” in the sense that they are my comfort, my heart, and the people for whom I willingly sacrifice. They are also the people that make me the craziest, but only because I care for them the most.
From there I move out to close friends, friends, friendly acquaintances, etc. Over the years this visualization has served me well. In the last few years, though, I’ve had some discoveries. Sometimes, we think we mean more to people than we do. It’s not horrible or anything. It’s just that it’s a problem to hold someone in that inner “mine” circle when you’re in their “close friend,” “friend” or even just “acquaintance” zone. What to do?
I do the only thing I can do: adjust my expectations. It’s been painful realizing a couple of people I saw as “mine” really needed to be in the “close friend” zone, because it feels like a loss. I know, I know, in the end, how can a close friend or even just a friend be a loss, right? And I agree. That’s what I remind myself every time I feel the sting.
On the up side, paying close attention to my relationships has led me to discover there are people in my life that can be brought closer in. It’s the best possible silver lining of life problems. People’s affection for you comes into greater focus the moment you actually need them and realize they are there. And that inspires me to be a better, closer friend to them as well. In the balance, my cup runneth over.