Blogs


Notices

Expectations and defensiveness

Old 10-20-2016, 08:07 AM
  # 1 (permalink)  
Member
Thread Starter
 
lizatola's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 2,349
Expectations and defensiveness

Please share with the board how you handle expectations especially in romantic relationships and how you work with your own defensiveness, if that is an issue for you, as well.

I am dealing with my own inner demons of trying to determine what is a valid expectation and reasonable or what is just ME trying to satisfy my own ego or my own 'hole in my soul' through someone's behaviors, words, etc. In other words: I expected a response in a certain way to my own vulnerability and I didn't get what I wanted. I got something else and it's burning a hole in my peace and serenity right now. I have worked very hard at opening my heart again, at being vulnerable, etc and unfortunately I expect the same thing in return. I don't always get what I want nor do I always get what I need when I feel that i need it. I do get my needs met by my partner, just not always WHEN I want them met. I am a very demanding person in my own head, lol.

I have enough program in me to know that expectations are future resentments and I'm here to admit that: YES....they are! And, I can feel it building already. I work my program slogans, call my sponsor, and vent to my program friends when I need to. I was raised in an alcoholic home, married an alcoholic and I know now that I basically married my father. I can see that now looking back but old habits die hard.

My bf was asking me the other day why I get so defensive. Umm, because I HAD to. I was trained to. I was always on defense and my XAH was on offense trying to find every hole or break in my defensive line. We were always playing a game, a game that he had to win, he had to always be right, and I had to always be wrong and he was going to prove it. I hated it and now I find that I can't even handle simple comments that aren't even criticisms of me, they are simply observations or small talk and I immediately feel the hairs go up on the back of my neck and I have to talk myself down and say: that wasn't a criticism of YOU, girl, that was just him observing and making conversation. Some days I do better at grasping the whole picture and I can let it go, other days I engage in my defensive behaviors. It wasn't until I left my sick marriage that I was able to step back and truly see just how sick I had become. How those patterns developed over time. And, now, in my current relationship how they are becoming road blocks to my own happiness because I cling to those old habits. I am trying to create new pathways in my emotional responses but damn it's hard to reverse 45 years of damage and destruction.

I truly need to find some serenity today. I have a lot of change coming my way for my career, my son will be 18 in a few weeks and he's far from being prepared for the adult world, and I'm letting negative emotions affect how I feel about my boyfriend and our life together. So, if you have some serenity, please throw it down to Phoenix today!! I'll take whatever you all have to spare, lol!
lizatola is offline  
The Following 10 Users Say Thank You to lizatola For This Useful Post:
Bekindalways (10-29-2016), FLCamper (10-21-2016), honeypig (10-22-2016), Kboys (10-20-2016), LifeRecovery (10-20-2016), maia1234 (10-20-2016), redatlanta (10-23-2016), SmallButMighty (10-21-2016), teatreeoil007 (10-20-2016), theuncertainty (10-20-2016)
Old 10-20-2016, 09:22 AM
  # 2 (permalink)  
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Right here, right now!
Posts: 3,383
I have been working on something very similar in my work for the last couple of months.

I FINALLY broke the pattern of getting defensive in a challenging relationship a couple of weeks ago. It felt amazing.

I was aware I was defensive for a long time. Finally about six weeks ago I realized in a therapy session that the "feeling" of being defensive for me is less about me "knowing" and "being" in my body and it is more about trying to make myself liked, respected and understood. That usually happens though with people who because of addiction or their own "stuff" are not capable of meeting me there. In other words it does not matter what I say or do they won't "get it."

I get that way in this one work relationship. I was having a 1:1 meeting with this woman who can trigger me. I triggered and I just said "okay," and ended the discussion. It was NOT me backing down, it was NOT backpedeling, it was acknowledging that I had the right to my own opinion and I needed to honor that and "discussing," it was not going to make a difference for her at all.

This whole recovery journey has been about honoring and trusting me.....regardless of what feedback from outside sources. I am starting to realize my defensiveness is a product of my co-dependent behaviors and lack of relationship with myself.

I have also found in the last number of weeks about who I feel this with often and who I don't......and that tells me a lot about my relationships in a way I did not have access to before.

I can't wait to hear other replies.
LifeRecovery is offline  
The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to LifeRecovery For This Useful Post:
lizatola (10-20-2016), teatreeoil007 (10-20-2016), theuncertainty (10-20-2016)
Old 10-20-2016, 10:05 AM
  # 3 (permalink)  
Member
 
dandylion's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 15,783
Liz.....I think it is a good idea to tell the other person what you need and when you need/want it. That cuts out a lot of guessing and anguish.
If it turn out that they feel that they can't or are unable or don't want to give it to you...then, this is their opportunity to tell you so.....
dandylion is online now  
The Following 4 Users Say Thank You to dandylion For This Useful Post:
August252015 (10-23-2016), Lilro (10-22-2016), lizatola (10-20-2016), Thumper (10-21-2016)
Old 10-20-2016, 10:20 AM
  # 4 (permalink)  
Member
 
NYCDoglvr's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: New York, NY
Posts: 6,247
Expectations screw up more relationships than practically anything else. When I clearly saw the damage it was doing to my relationships, I started catching myself doing it. A very big boon to peace of mind! Being defensive isn't much a problem thanks to the 12 Steps.
NYCDoglvr is offline  
The Following 4 Users Say Thank You to NYCDoglvr For This Useful Post:
AliaKeys (10-20-2016), August252015 (10-27-2016), lizatola (10-20-2016), teatreeoil007 (10-20-2016)
Old 10-20-2016, 01:49 PM
  # 5 (permalink)  
Member
Thread Starter
 
lizatola's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 2,349
Originally Posted by NYCDoglvr View Post
Expectations screw up more relationships than practically anything else. When I clearly saw the damage it was doing to my relationships, I started catching myself doing it. A very big boon to peace of mind! Being defensive isn't much a problem thanks to the 12 Steps.
Amen, yes they do!!!
I'm just trying to address my expectations so that I practice gratitude instead of ingratitude in my relationships more often. If I focus on what I'm not getting, how is that going to make for a better relationship in the long run?
I can ask for what I need, but sometimes my needs (like now because I'm PMSing) are over the top and I need to tone them down a bit. I can barely handle myself, how can I expect someone else to help me?

I want to learn how to let go of unreasonable expectations. I truly want to live in complete acceptance of what is, of what today has brought me, and to be grateful for all of it: the good the bad and the crazy!

As for defensiveness.....I'm a work in progress but i've been very honest with my guy about why I am the way I am and he validates what I have to say and tries to be patient with me.
lizatola is offline  
The Following User Says Thank You to lizatola For This Useful Post:
teatreeoil007 (10-20-2016)
Old 10-20-2016, 02:23 PM
  # 6 (permalink)  
Member
 
dandylion's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 15,783
Liz...how do you know that your "needs" are over the top and unreasonable?
Who makes that determination?

Can you give an example of such a need? (provided that you are comfortable doing so, of course).....
dandylion is online now  
The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to dandylion For This Useful Post:
FLCamper (10-21-2016), Kboys (10-20-2016)
Old 10-20-2016, 02:44 PM
  # 7 (permalink)  
Member
 
Maudcat's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2016
Location: Wareham, Mass
Posts: 6,943
Hey, lizatola. Arrgh! Defensiveness, leave my head! The other day my spouse asked me not to refill the bird feeders close to the storage shed where we keep the seed because it could encourage mice. This was a perfectly reasonable request asked in a perfectly reasonable way and one, I must say, he has made before. I forgot. I could feel my defensive hackles rising at the implied criticism (it wasn't) and I was ready to launch. Then I realized how dopey that was, so I just said, "sure. I can do that." Why did I get so defensive? I'm not sure. Hate to lay it on the parent, but...my father was a persnickety kind of person. He had his own way of doing things, kinda OCD if I'm honest, and he used to criticize us if we didn't do things just so. I don't have a particular point to make. Just saying that I am familiar with defensiveness. Peace.
Maudcat is offline  
The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Maudcat For This Useful Post:
3littlebirds (10-21-2016), Mklove (10-22-2016)
Old 10-20-2016, 03:23 PM
  # 8 (permalink)  
Member
 
Praying's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2012
Posts: 786
I find that I still get very sensitive or defensive when I have an unmet expectation related to something I thought I was "okay with", but deep down really wasn't.

I'd use your feelings to explore if there's something real there--you might be glossing over a need you have or an expectation that you WANT filled by your partner--which could be a valid desire that you're not able to get with him, so you tell yourself not to need it because things are good enough without it. If it's a deep enough need it will keep resurfacing and could be an issue later on.
Praying is offline  
The Following 5 Users Say Thank You to Praying For This Useful Post:
3littlebirds (10-21-2016), dandylion (10-20-2016), FLCamper (10-21-2016), LifeRecovery (10-20-2016), teatreeoil007 (10-20-2016)
Old 10-20-2016, 05:28 PM
  # 9 (permalink)  
Member
 
teatreeoil007's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: America
Posts: 4,136
What I have wondered at times/situations is this: How much of said request/demand is an actual need vs. an unrealistic expectation? -

And-Is it possible the two things overlap one another? Everyone has needs. Your boss needs you to do certain for your job, for example. Your partner wants to spend a certain amount of attention time with you. But at what point does a basic need turn into an unrealistic expectation? Or an expectation you are not feeling up to...

Honestly, I just have days that I want to be left alone and I want some peace and quiet. Not everyone understands that need and some of us seem to need that more than others, like my dad. He was that way. My mom almost the complete opposite.
teatreeoil007 is offline  
The Following 5 Users Say Thank You to teatreeoil007 For This Useful Post:
dandylion (10-20-2016), LifeRecovery (10-22-2016), Maudcat (10-20-2016), Mklove (10-22-2016), theuncertainty (10-21-2016)
Old 10-21-2016, 07:39 AM
  # 10 (permalink)  
Member
Thread Starter
 
lizatola's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 2,349
Originally Posted by Praying View Post
I find that I still get very sensitive or defensive when I have an unmet expectation related to something I thought I was "okay with", but deep down really wasn't.

I'd use your feelings to explore if there's something real there--you might be glossing over a need you have or an expectation that you WANT filled by your partner--which could be a valid desire that you're not able to get with him, so you tell yourself not to need it because things are good enough without it. If it's a deep enough need it will keep resurfacing and could be an issue later on.
I wonder that a lot, as well. Am I glossing over a need that I want filled? I think the problem is that I want my partner to respond like I would respond. I want him to behave as I would in certain situations or in response to something I asked or stated or whatever.

That's where the problem lies. I think the deeper issue for me is; control. I want to control someone else's response to help quell the anxiety I have because I need certainty. I want certainty. I want guarantees. That is part of MY disease. I wanted my spouse to quit drinking because, in my mind, that was a guarantee that we could finally all live happily ever after. I had a map all made out that went like this: If only my spouse would do this, then this would happen, and then everything would be well.

I know I still do this today in my relationship with my bf. Hence, the reason I still struggle with wanting him to behave a certain way. I work on acceptance since he seems to accept my shortcomings and character defects like it's no big deal, lol....but acceptance seems to come to me at a much slower rate.

As for the defensiveness, that is something I communicate about to my partner and to my close friends. I can, at least, logically work through that because I know that it's a mechanism I use to cope with stress or pressure or whatever. It's something I know how to work on. But, overcoming the problems I have with expectations is not as easy.
lizatola is offline  
The Following 4 Users Say Thank You to lizatola For This Useful Post:
LifeRecovery (10-22-2016), Mklove (10-22-2016), teatreeoil007 (10-21-2016), theuncertainty (10-21-2016)
Old 10-21-2016, 09:11 AM
  # 11 (permalink)  
Member
 
dandylion's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 15,783
I think, that, on a forum, like this...we sometimes come to consider "expectations" a dirty word.
This is a forum that deals a l ot with alcoholism and living with alcoholics. since alcoholics are so u nable/wnwilling to be responsible and attend to the demands and obligations of relationships...folks are often told to lower expectations to avoid disappointments.
Of course...we all know that addiction and abuse are two things that turn usual relationship "rules" topsy turvy.

I think all relationships involve expectations....in both directions.
We have written or unspoken contracts in relationships....many more unspoken than written...lol...
I also, think that the unspoken expectations can get us into more trouble, also....
dandylion is online now  
The Following 5 Users Say Thank You to dandylion For This Useful Post:
August252015 (10-23-2016), LifeRecovery (10-22-2016), redatlanta (10-23-2016), teatreeoil007 (10-21-2016), theuncertainty (10-21-2016)
Old 10-21-2016, 10:05 AM
  # 12 (permalink)  
Member
 
NYCDoglvr's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: New York, NY
Posts: 6,247
I want to learn how to let go of unreasonable expectations. I truly want to live in complete acceptance of what is, of what today has brought me, and to be grateful for all of it: the good the bad and the crazy!
The fact that you know you're doing it is a big part of the solution! I considered myself very close to my brother until he got married. I resented the hell out of him and his wife for ten years because they didn't do what I thought they should. Then one day I said "screw it!", they can just be who they are, I don't care. I let go of my need for them to be other people. Almost magically, our relationship got so much better and they became the people I always wanted them to be, warm loving family.
NYCDoglvr is offline  
The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to NYCDoglvr For This Useful Post:
lizatola (10-21-2016), Mklove (10-22-2016), teatreeoil007 (10-21-2016)
Old 10-21-2016, 12:23 PM
  # 13 (permalink)  
Member
 
teatreeoil007's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: America
Posts: 4,136
With regards to what we expect from others, we have to get real; be real about it. Perhaps ask ourselves: What can I reasonably expect from this person? What are they truly capable of right now?
teatreeoil007 is offline  
Old 10-21-2016, 10:00 PM
  # 14 (permalink)  
Member
Thread Starter
 
lizatola's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 2,349
Originally Posted by teatreeoil007 View Post
With regards to what we expect from others, we have to get real; be real about it. Perhaps ask ourselves: What can I reasonably expect from this person? What are they truly capable of right now?
Amen to this!
And, i know what to expect from my bf. Sometimes that's part of the problem. He's boring and predictable. He's reliable and loyal and dependable. There's no drama. Sometimes there's too much silence. I know what he's capable of, he's been honest.

It's me who struggles. I want drama. I have an emptiness that needs to be filled. I know that I can't expect him to be something he's not.
lizatola is offline  
Old 10-21-2016, 10:14 PM
  # 15 (permalink)  
Member
 
teatreeoil007's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: America
Posts: 4,136
hmmmmm. You've got me thinking.

So, it sounds like you could use a little more pizazz or excitement in your life? Or, perhaps a creative outlet. Change things up. Regardless of what he does, you can still have some drama, fun, excitement in your life. He'll either go along and join you or not. But you can still do something refreshing and enjoyable.
teatreeoil007 is offline  
Old 10-22-2016, 07:46 AM
  # 16 (permalink)  
Member
 
Praying's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2012
Posts: 786
I think there's a difference between always wanting him to act in a way you'd like
( = controlling), vs having similar situations arise over time where you repeatedly wish he would react differently (= not compatible in this area).

I think this may be what Dandylion was getting at...that it's not bad to have expectations. Your wants may be completely reasonable, just maybe not from him. And if you want a relationship with him, then you'll need to ease your expectations here or be continually disappointed.

On the excitement topic, I get it!! Something I realized about myself after my first post-divorce relationship was that I didn't like the feeling of how it "settled in". What's next? I was kind of bored. I've learned that I thrive on spontaneity, even though I didn't realize it since usually it's my spontaneous friends suggesting things. When I've "settled in" and things get predictable, I struggle. That doesn't mean I'm codependent and awful, just that I'm wired to want more variety. I have that with my friends. When I've found myself saying "I should be happy with this because he's a good man and so good at X...", I know I'm not being true to myself. Not saying this is you! You sound very happy with things--just sharing my experience and continuing struggle in this area.
Praying is offline  
Old 10-22-2016, 08:17 AM
  # 17 (permalink)  
Member
 
DesertEyes's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Starting over all over again
Posts: 4,427
Blog Entries: 1
Originally Posted by lizatola View Post
... There's no drama. Sometimes there's too much silence..... I have an emptiness that needs to be filled.
I know that feeling well. If you are like me, the thrill seeking, adrenaline addicted type of alanoid then I can share a few ideas.

What worked for me, when the drama was gone and I was left with that surplus of silence, was to _replace_ the drama with something equally exciting, but healthy.

Go parachuting, and then become an instructor.

Become a certified scuba diver.

Go to the gym and train for a 5K run that gives proceeds to charity, then train for a half marathon, then a full.

Become a wall climber.

Take martial arts classes and work your way up to a black belt.

Volunteer at the local women's shelter.

Go back to school and get a degree in something fun, like playing guitar, then start a band.

That "silence" that you hear is the world waiting for you to get out there and participate

Mike
DesertEyes is offline  
The Following 5 Users Say Thank You to DesertEyes For This Useful Post:
dandylion (10-22-2016), desertgirl (10-22-2016), Mklove (10-22-2016), PuzzledHeart (10-23-2016), shockozulu (10-24-2016)
Old 10-22-2016, 09:42 AM
  # 18 (permalink)  
Member
 
dandylion's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 15,783
Liz.....I think that teatreeoil and praying and Desert Eyes...are saying the same type of thing that I was trying to say..

I seem to remember that security and stability have always been a major concern for you (understandably), given your situation.
so, I am going to spitball, a bit, here.
Is it possible that the security type things---stability, predictability, good economic solvency, loyalty and no fears of leaving or cheating, solid social status, etc., were a major attraction for you.
This, combined with the natural excitement and thrill and the planning of a romance in bloom...contributes to excitement in itself!
As daily life settles in...then other characteristics of our partner come into more clear focus.....we begin to notice other things....
Perhaps, it is that your natural, inborn temprament desires a certain amount of novelty and variety. Got to have it....lol....
If your bf happens to have a temperament that leans more to the introverted and thrives on more quiet , internal mechanisms....I can see where that would create a gap...
Based on this line of thinking....It seems like Desert Eyes's suggestions would be a good idea....
After all, we can't always get everything we need from another person...where there are deficits---we have to get our "fix" from other sources.
Now..I can see a potential "challenge" with this...If you have any co-dependency tendencies..and have tended to be very complient in adjusting to the other persons temprament...that person may have come to expect this "molding" of yourself to his zone of comfort.
If you raise your head and say.."I need more variety and excitement and I will be going on a sightseeing trip down the Congo with a survival team".....it might become necessary to make certain basic adjustments in the ebb and flow of the relationship.....
Relationships are an ongoing journey of making adjustments, as necessary to maintain the water table. Whenever one person makes a basic change, it requires a change in the other, to some extent in the "dance".

Like I said....I am just spitballing, here.......
dandylion is online now  
The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to dandylion For This Useful Post:
Mklove (10-22-2016), teatreeoil007 (10-22-2016)
Old 10-22-2016, 10:54 AM
  # 19 (permalink)  
Member
 
teatreeoil007's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: America
Posts: 4,136
What does your partner do for a living? That may have an impact on what he does at home...Maybe he does need more down time for that reason...just a thought...

I've always had a stressful, demanding as well as unpredictable job. So, I need to off-set that somehow. However, I also need creative outlets.

One thing I started doing in my late thirties was tapping into my music more. I started writing songs and demo'ing them before live audiences, which was risky, but wonderful too.

I took a flatpicking guitar workshop taught by a man who teaches is all over the the States and some overseas. He'd been at it for while. But he said I was his first female student! So, again I placed myself into a "spot" that challenged me, was exciting, new, but really challenged my BRAIN and guitar skills. When I met him he said, "I want you to sit in the front row so I can correct you when I need to." Okay...but for some reason that neither dettered me nor intimidated me. There were plenty of other students more advanced than I was and some not as. But overall it was a very positive experience. In a nutshell I got out of my comfort zone. My husband had little to do with this, but was supportive.
teatreeoil007 is offline  
The Following User Says Thank You to teatreeoil007 For This Useful Post:
dandylion (10-22-2016)
Old 10-23-2016, 04:05 AM
  # 20 (permalink)  
Member
 
redatlanta's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: atlanta, ga
Posts: 3,581
I think most codependents like drama. Rather maybe the cycle of "fixing". There is drama and conflict, it reaches a peak, problem is fixed, resting period until the next drama.

The "resting" period brings security that all is well because you made it.

We all bring our past into new relationships. Problem here is, your past is affecting your current. I can't speak for your BF, but that gets tiresome after a while. Its like when someone has been cheated on and is always on the look out in their new relationship. At first our partners are complicit in securing trust, but after a while it gets very old. It becomes a job to assuage our partner's insecurities.

As for defensiveness.....I'm a work in progress but i've been very honest with my guy about why I am the way I am and he validates what I have to say and tries to be patient with me.

How long do you think the "patience" will last?

And, i know what to expect from my bf. Sometimes that's part of the problem. He's boring and predictable. He's reliable and loyal and dependable. There's no drama. Sometimes there's too much silence. I know what he's capable of, he's been honest.

It's me who struggles. I want drama. I have an emptiness that needs to be filled. I know that I can't expect him to be something he's not.


I am going to assume what you don't want is bad drama, that you aren't really looking for an argument, certainly not looking for anything resembling your past marriage. So, I have to wonder. Is this relationship a match? Because using the term "boring" to describe your partner is kinda.....not a great description. Perhaps its just a matter of syntax......I am wondering how well you think the two of you coincide in interests, and in the way you relate to each other beyond your issues of being defensive? Are you feeling empty just because he is non responsive in the way you are? Or, are you feeling empty because of other reasons?
redatlanta is offline  
The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to redatlanta For This Useful Post:
dandylion (10-23-2016), teatreeoil007 (10-24-2016)

Currently Active Users Viewing this Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off




All times are GMT -7. The time now is 02:51 AM.