Being a serial planner, I like my days laid out with tasks to do and I like thinking weeks, months or even years ahead. This is great when it comes to accomplishing goals but it can be a misguided attitude when it’s applied to people.
I’ve noticed this is what I often do, particularly with girls, I get excited at the potential and I start projecting the things we could do together in my mind. After a short while, I’m already planning future events/occasions. I do this in my mind and when you visualise, you experience and this creates expectations in your mind, often unconsciously.
I learned that one of the biggest causes of pain after the ending of a relationship is the unfulfillment of these expectations. Those mental projections you really wanted to happen suddenly collapse along with the relationship. Leaving behind psychologically pain. So to prevent this pain you have to stop carelessly creating expectations. This, of course, is easier said than done.
When you’re visualising, you’re EXPERIENCING. When you experience you unconsciously create expectations. If it’s only one of you, then this person will experience more of the relationship thus will be further ahead in said relationship and it will be unbalanced.
The one imagining the future will exhibit behaviours that are relative to what they’ve experienced, even if it was only in their imagination. This can create tension in the relationship, or behaviours were what’s appropriate for one person is completely inappropriate to the other due to being at different stages of the relationship.
As an extreme example, think premature proposals, where the two are at different stages, one has experienced a lot more of the relationship in their imagination and they unconsciously confuse it with reality and thus think it’s appropriate to propose but this can manifest in much more subtle ways too.
When a vision/fantasy/projection requires the other person to manifest, make sure that they have consented to be a part of it. To know you have this consent can take many months because “it matters more not what people say, but what they do consistently” over an extended period of time in order to establish the reliability of the person in question.
This cannot be known while in the early phases of a relationship. Thus it’s futile and often naive to fantasise about the future with someone who cannot yet be relied upon. You have to know when a person is there to stay or if they’re just popping in for a quick visit. That way, you significantly reduce your chances of being left empty-handed after creating expectations which are consequently unmet.
Recognising the qualities of a person who is worthy of keeping around for the longer haul is thus imperative. Such a person will exhibit the following behaviour.
Aside from regularly seeking contact/communication with you, you will know this person because they will be impeccable with their word, they will be consistent in their treatment of you and if not, they will have a valid reason. They will do this consistently over an EXTENDED period of time. Of course, this doesn’t guarantee they will stay, life has no guarantees after all, but it significantly reduces the chances of you being hurt.
Consistency is so key here because it builds trust, an integral part of any successful relationship.
If you don’t build some form of filtering process, you can end up wasting time and emotional energy with temporary people. You may fantasise/project the future with this person in it but without their having consented, you will be building on a shaky foundation and likely you’d be left with a heavy heart due to the unfulfillment of your expectations.
While courting someone, it’s easy for your mind to indulge and wonder at future possibilities so I have 3 tools that have helped me.
To prevent unhealthy attachments:
- Practising mindfulness: when you’re projecting what could be you’re not in the present moment. Be as mindful of your thoughts as you are with your actions and if you aren’t mindful of your actions, be mindful of your actions too!
- Focus on you: this prevents you from getting distracted and grounds you. Doing this will also help to attract people who will help you further, aka, attracting your tribe.
- Think practically not in fantasy if you attach to someone make sure it’s off something that’s real and in reality and not based off what you have imagined.
I’d like to make it clear that just because someone is temporary in your life doesn’t mean they’re not valuable to your growth. They are!
My point is it’s our expectations which often causes us the most pain and often can overshadow the value we can gain from relationships. In reducing our minds propensity to form expectations we can, to a large extent, prevent ourselves from getting needlessly hurt in relationships and increase our awareness of said value.
Thank you for reading,
P.S: This isn’t about you