Are you expecting too much from your partner?

At some point of time or the other in your life, you have wondered whether you’re expecting too much from your partner. Motivational coach & speaker Craig Harper observes that often we make too much of our expectations, starting to believe them to be the moral standards others should adhere to. And through this we cause pain and heartbreak to none but ourselves, especially when it comes to our expectations from the person closest to our heart. Other people never hurt us through their actions – we hurt ourselves by comparing their actions to our expectations.

Am I expecting too muchPhoto by PBS PressRoom

A 3 step process…

If you look at your significant other, what do you see? Ask yourself – why did I fall in love with him (or her)? List down all the reasons. Also, list down all the flaws you see in them now – all the hurts they’ve caused you. As a next step, try to explain why you felt hurt by a certain action/behaviour.

But you’ve already listed down why you felt hurt – she was rude (or lied/didn’t help with the housework/didn’t give your family as much importance as you’d like/doesn’t share your political views/thinks your favourite game is crap….put whatever she/he does that puts you off…), that’s why. Right? Wrong.

Feeling anything is a three-step process, not a two-step one. I call it the Expectation-Action-Reaction, or the EAR framework in which humans experience emotions.

The EAR framework of human reactions

Here’s how it works.

Step #1: Expectation. The root of any positive or negative feeling is an outcome vis-à-vis our expectation. This is pre-existent in our mind, resulting of a complex blend of our beliefs, attitude, culture, background, conditioning…etc.
Step #2. Action. Something happens. Let’s say he/she behaves rudely with you.
Step #3. Reaction. You react according to the below formula:

Your reaction = Action – Expectation

Thus, your reaction is a function of both the action, and your expectation, and not the action alone. Also, as is clear from the formula, your reaction will be positive or negative depending upon the action, as compared to the expectation.

So should you stop expecting at all?

Am I expecting too muchPhoto by simone|cento

Now go back towards the start of this post. You’d listed down all the good attributes. So should you change your expectations from your partner? Should you not expect anything from them at all?

Craig, in his post, concludes, “the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour”. So his point is that the variable Expectation should basically be a moving average of all past Actions, and hence is likely to “follow” the variable Action. This would mean the difference, i.e. your Reaction remains close to zero. Perfect recipe for a peaceful life!

Only that, it’s not. I’m a diehard fan of Craig and his blog, (and I think he belongs to the oxymoronic species of honest motivational speakers) but I don’t quite agree with this last bit. Well, not completely.

The only way you can stop expecting anything from your partner is if your love dies. True, the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour. True, if you have been hurt too many times too badly you have the right to protect yourself emotionally by limiting your own expectations. But as soon as you tell yourself, “she’s going to behave in x way always”, you limit all future possibilities for your relationship.

What’s the solution?

Remember you listed down all the reasons you fell in love with them? If you’ve followed my suggestions, by now you’ll also have all his/her Actions & your Expectations noted. Now look at them closely. Is there any correlation between your expectations and why you fell in love with them? You probably won’t find any.

Love your partner for who they are. Consciously remind yourself of the special person that you fell in love with. Stop projecting the “ideal them” (according to you) on to the “real them”. Tell yourself, “I love Jane (or John) for their qualities x, y & z which are unique. And I don’t blame them for not possessing qualities a,b &c, ‘cause they are not as important as the uniqueness of my spouse/partner for which I love them. I will continue to love them for their unique qualities x, y & z and that’s all I’m concentrating on.” Consciously leave all expectations aside. Be prepared for them to continue to behave in the way the’ve always behaved, but keep an open mind for the future. Concentrate on why they make your life special, and leave aside what they don’t give you (as yet).

You’ll find more often than not, you’ll start living the change you want to see.

In Search of True Love…

Hey there! A big Hello to all of you. More than a year (and a whole marriage-read on for more about that!) later, I’m finally back to the blogosphere again!

It’s surely a special feeling to be talking to you after such a long time! I’m sure you’ve missed me, and you have no idea how much I’ve missed you. :(

So what should I start with? Yes I know, it doesn’t need telling – surely you want to know what I have been up to.

I have been up to finding love. Cheesy? Not. And that’s what I want to share with you today.

What is love?

I was striving hard to put my feelings about love into word, when I found this great post, which felt a bit like the transcript of my heart speaking –

“Love is a force of nature. However much we may want to, we can not command, demand, or disappear love, any more than we can command the moon and the stars and the wind and the rain to come and go according to our whims. We may have some limited ability to change the weather, but we do so at the risk of upsetting an ecological balance we don’t fully understand. Similarly, we can stage a seduction or mount a courtship, but the result is more likely to be infatuation, or two illusions dancing together, than love.”

Shubho & Sulagna in MauritiusThat’s me and him. (Ok. Dumb.)

That pretty much sums up what I always believed-love happens. (Oh yes I’m an incurable romantic!) I had promised myself never to get hitched until I felt “this is the best thing in the world that could happen to me”. For me, that was the litmus test of true love.

Introducing Mr…

So here I was, napping my days away happily at home after finishing business school, when Mr. Cool pinged me. Now I know you’re not gonna believe this, but that very moment I knew. I knew that the guy I have secretly fancied for two years but never managed to talk to, was finally mine forever. ;)
I drowned, headfirst.

For the uninitiated-the first days of love is like a full-time job. Once hired, you just aren’t allowed to concentrate on anything else. So I stopped functioning.(Really!!) It was a sweep-you-off-your-feet-and-end-your-thought-process all-encompassing obsession. Naturally. ;) So your favourite web destination took a backseat. (I’m sorry. I mean it.)

To cut long story short, here we were, about a year later….

Shubho & Sulagna weddingThe Wedding!

And now that’s 6 months old too. Armed with the experience of a nerve-racking ecstatic-devastating courtship & an even more colourful 6 months of marriage, I thought it’s time to get back to my half-forgotten love-child, Love in India.

I’m sure you can imagine how excited I am to be back. I hope you are, too!

To being back & meeting my friends (you) again. See you tomorrow.

5 Tips to Handle Intercaste Relationships

Caste-the blade that has driven deep scars across hearts and lives.
Caste-the poison that has split families.
And caste-the knife that’s drilling into your soul every moment: “I’m an XYZ. But he/she is an ABC. Now what?”

Love in IndiaPhoto by Kjunstorm

When I sat down to write this post about intercaste marriages and relationships I was really not sure what to write. I personally renounce castes completely and utterly, so I can’t write a “pros and cons” type of article on anything related to the caste system in India. It’s like trying to pen down the pros and cons of being racist against blacks. So I’ve decided to help people in intercaste relationships convince their parents of their decisions. Without taking more of your time, here goes.

Be prepared

Prepare yourself before you go in for The Discussion. Anticipate the concerns your parents might have regarding your intercaste marriage. Write them down one by one if possible. For example, they might fear adverse reaction from relatives, or they might believe that intercaste marriages don’t work or that children of intercaste marriages face problems. You must anticipate these and have counterarguments prepared.
Your parents will probably react emotionally when you first tell them that you want to get married to someone from a different caste. NEVER react back. Losing your cool is never an option if you’re hoping to convince anyone of anything. Calmly request them to articulate any specific concerns that they have. Use your preparation to talk the matter through with them at this point.

Evidence always works

Take time to research as many examples as possible of happy intercaste couples and unhappy same-caste couples among your friends and acquaintances. Use these while discussing your relationship with your parents. Try to pin down some reasons for the success or lack of it between these couples and explain how none of these reasons could be connected to caste.

Love in IndiaPhoto by Sara Björk

Back to the basics

This point is a bit extreme, but it works because sometimes in our folly we’re unable to see what’s right in front of us.
Turn to history. Remind your parents why the caste system was originally started-for classifying people belonging to different professions. In today’s world this basic reasoning behind the caste system has zero significance since majority of the people belonging to different castes have not continued in their “caste-professions”. And so, caste as a way of categorizing people has lost basis. Do more research. Cite examples of people like Dr. Meghnad Saha who have proven the baselessness of caste lines by doing things totally outside the identity boxes they were “cast” in.

A helping hand

Turn to that cousin/uncle/bhaabi of yours, who’s always been your close friend and whose judgment your parents trust. Introduce your “him”/ “her” to them and then request them to bring the matter up with your parents.


Never, never, NEVER start the discussion of your relationship with your parents if you have even 0.01% of doubts yourself. If you go to discuss your possible intercaste marriage with your parents and come back convinced of its futility, the next day you’ll meet your boyfriend/girlfriend and regret your reaction. And then this cycle will continue until you lose confidence completely in your own ability to take decisions. It’s crucial for you, your parents and your significant other that you have absolute clarity about what you want.

Tried all the above methods but your parents just won’t budge? Try Help! My Parents are not Agreeing to My Marriage!