Disappointment is the shadow cast by expectation- as quoted by Cindy Color &Light in response to my blog yesterday. I love this thought, because it so accurately sums up what I was thinking, without knowing that was what I was thinking.

Yesterday I started with the premise that it is inevitable that we will disappoint those that we are in relationships with. I know some thought that this was a rather harsh and sad way to view life and relationships- which it is, but is it also just the reality of relationships? The reality of two or more people interacting? So I decided to break this down a bit more.

Last weekend the plan was that my husband I would have dinner at a bar/restaurant down the street from my home. My expectation was that it would just be the two of us.

He called me on Friday and asked if I would mind inviting two other couples to the evening. I said fine, thought I was slightly disappointed because I really didn’t feel like a group- you know- introvert- groups suck up my energy.  My expectation was that we would meet them at the place at 7pm.

Saturday arrives, and it turns out that my Husband has invited the couples over to our house at 6pm, for cocktails before dinner. I am now disappointed again, because it is not what I envisioned.

Unbeknownst to me, my Husband has also reached out to another couple, (who are with friends) to meet up with us. The texting between my Husband and this group begins at 6. The group is growing larger, as is my disappointment.

The original six go to the restaurant at 7. Continued texting is going on between my husband and the other group- they keep saying they are on their way. Fine. Disappointment rises up a notch.

It turns out we need to order ASAP because apparently the kitchen closes at 7:30- now if you know anything about NYC and bar food in general this is just bizarre, and another disappointment, but that’s a whole other story…

So the six at the restaurant order, we get our food and drinks, we watch college football, whatever. At 9pm, the other group still hasn’t arrived, but the rest of us, we’re ready to call it a night.


At 9:15 we settle the bill. We are literally seconds away from putting on our coats. I am tired, cranky and am done with the evening.

Of course, the other group arrives.

I want to leave.

My husband says- “You can’t leave. It will look bad. You need to stay.”

My expectation is that I matter more to him than people who show up as we’re about to leave.

His expectation is that I suck it up.

My disappointment that he puts their feelings ahead of mine.

His disappointment that I wouldn’t take one for the team.

Who’s right?

Who’s wrong?



It doesn’t matter, because we all have feelings, and both of us felt trampled on. Both of us had expectations and both were disappointed when the expectations weren’t met.

Let’s look to the larger picture. In the context of a long term relationship, is this a deal breaker?

  1. If the situation is a one off, never happened before, never happens again, it’s probably one small incident that doesn’t interfere in your relationship.
  2. If it happens maybe once a year, it’s a slight annoyance.
  3. If it happens continually, it’s the beginnings of a problem.

When we’re in a relationship we expect things. That’s what vows are at a wedding ceremony- you are setting the minimal expectations that involve being part of a union. We also may expect that we will have children, or buy a house, or travel the world. If our partner (or child, or parent) doesn’t share those expectations…what happens?


76 thoughts on “Disappointment is the Shadow Cast by Expectation

  1. Interesting story, and I have to say that I don’t like being forced to do what I don’t like, and yet I was all along hoping that you were going to end up saying you had a fun evening.
    It is important to be flexible and sometimes it works out wonderfully. Couples can reasonably expect a few nights a year when the other half bends and lets the evening be planned by the other half. I don’t think this should be the case more than say 6 times a year though. There are all kinds of variables of course like health and personality. I enjoy small groups, and have hearing aids so concerts and loud restaurants are not at all fun. My wife is welcome to go to concerts without me with friends, and understands why I prefer a walk along the lake.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’d been in a similar situation with my ex many times and ‘took one for the team’ more often that I’d like to admit because it didn’t look right – even though the others were really late in arriving. It made me resentful to be honest because it became a ‘thing’ with this group who would say they’d meet us all at x time but arrive hours later after I was already tired, frustrated and wanted to go home. It caused a lot of friction between us as I didn’t feel like he heard what I was saying and how I felt. I hope your conversation with your hubby went better than mine did. I understand LA.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Exactly…and the more times this occurred in similar ways, the level of my frustrations grew because I didn’t feel like I had a voice or a choice because Hubby didn’t want me to leave the event. Such was a piece of the downfall of the marriage.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. So one must break the pattern before it becomes a push/pull entrenched disconnection. I think it’s in the wanting to be heard as I felt I was hearing what he wanted me to do and I was obliging (not happily mind you) but doing it for him and his ‘reputation’ which narcs require at all costs. For me, it was that he didn’t have my back when I asked – not with his family, his mother nor others. Hindsight is eye-opening for sure for me.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Honestly? It’s all about compromise. You compromise in some circumstances, he compromises in others. Himself appeared grumpy and not particularly sociable in gatherings in our early days together. I now understand that he struggles to hear in crowded venues, so rarely expect him to attend. On those occasions he does attend, he’s expected to make an effort. When we started living together, he was upset because I continued my singleton habit of making arrangements without taking him into account; it wasn’t that he wanted me to say no – he just wanted to be included in the decision making process. I don’t put dates in the diary now without prior discussion. Each of us made compromises, each of us is therefore content. If only one was making compromises, it would spell trouble ahead.

    The type of social scenario you describe would drive him mad, so I almost never put him in that situation. However, if the occasion arose, I would expect him to behave like a grown up and not ruin it for me & others. But (and it’s a big but) I wouldn’t just wing it – I would re-state my clear expectation *in advance* – giving him a one-off chance to duck out or to tolerate whatever transpired with a smile. If a relationship’s going to work, it’s important we know one another well enough to get what buttons *not* to press without taking the proper advance steps.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. At what point does compromise become a one way street? And it’s also the larger issue. In my scenario, maybe this actual scenario doesn’t happen that often. But what if the issue of putting other people’s feelings before mine does? How often should one need to be in a situation that they find uncomfortable? There’s many variables. I also hav3 issues with compromise. If we’re always compromising, do you lose yourself because you never get things your way? Is compromise on small things ok, but what about big things? In this scenario I was fine, until I felt taken advantage of. Then that becomes a whole other ball game

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My nature is always to seek compromise. But it has to be reasonable, measured & it absolutely cannot be a one way street. When that has happened to me before, it descended into lack of respect which killed the love. We each of us have our own no way back point, but a lack of consideration for your special person’s feelings & essential self are a big red flag in my book.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I would have been pissed too. I admire that you see his side too. Maybe before my husband and I do certain things that may cause friction I will ask him what his expectations are and I will share mine. I expect that he knows sometimes when he totally dosen’t.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well yeah…how well do we communicate things. But then you have the adage, it’s easier to ask forgiveness than to ask permission. But that’s at least a weeks worth of blogs…


  5. We have just been learning through counseling that expectations can lead to a whole lot of issues. In your scenario, I would have had a really hard time trying to be pleasant. Introvert as well, I probably would have been sitting by myself and not speaking unless someone spoke to me. I would have been upset from the very start if hubby had not told me that plans were changing so drastically. Still, given our household, he would not invite people over without telling me first since we don’t keep alcohol around so a trip to the store is involved. Do you even like these people that he kept inviting to join along? Sorry, but he sounds really inconsiderate. Did you say that you wanted a “date night?” Did you discuss and he apologize so it doesn’t happen again?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I didn’t want a date night per se, but just a quiet night. I know that from this weekend on, it will be holiday mode, and I’ll need to be “on” more often than not. Wanting to ask a few friends to join us at a bar was ok (though I was annoyed, I tried to be accommodating) but then all the extra stuff… you see him as inconsiderate, while others see me as unwilling to compromise…it all depends on how you look at it….

      Liked by 1 person

  6. To me, it seems like this is partly also about communication. You ended up disappointed that the evening didn’t go as expected. He was disappointed that you didn’t want to stay when the friends showed up. In both cases, being upfront and discussing those expectations may have given a different resulting situation. Saying in the beginning, from the very start of making plans that you wanted the quite time out with just him in the may have given you a different kind of night that you would have been happier with. He didn’t make it clear that he wanted to stay and socialize with the second group or even discuss it with you as a plan to move forward with the evening, just expected you to go along with it when he decided for himself. Neither one of you were really communicating your wants and needs for the evening (making assumptions only on what you posted, so forgive me if I’ve assumed wrong on any point), leaving you both frustrated with the end results and each other. Expectations form from the information we have and the people we are. Communicating those expectations gives others the information they need to be able to form their own expectations and either make adjustments or say that something isn’t working for them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Everything comes down to communication. The problem here is I thought I was compromising by saying sure, invite your friends to the restaurant. I thought it was wrong that he invited people to our house, but it’s the old, easier to ask forgiveness than ask permission thing. It was compounded by him wanting me to suck it up and stay (FYI…he bullied another couple into staying ) he knew I would not want the big evening, and he knows that as a rule, I prefer being home by 10….but yeah….relationships….

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, I would have been absolutely furious in your shoes. No doubt. There is a certain lack of respect for you going on with his actions here. They sound really manipulative, which is going to break trust at some point.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. We’ve been married 29 years and if we both don’t agree it doesn’t happen. We always talk about it and compromise but every couple deals with things differently. This just works for us and we respect each others opinion. Excellent post!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I have been married for 38 years and my husband has finally come to the realization that he needs to ask before he adds people to anything. For the longest time he didn’t consider it a holiday unless it involved a lot of people, now he knows that it needs to be discussed with plenty of time before. If he wants to have someone out to eat with us he asks, and there are times when I will say that I thought it would be nice for just the 2 of us, trying not to sigh*. My husband has become a little less tolerant of groups as he gets older but I always have to make sure a discussion takes place. This realization has followed some disastrous evenings to be sure.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I can see the viewpoints in the comments, and understand both perspectives, but personally know how much it can seem as if things are more one-sided than not. I wanted a marriage with communication and believed initially that I had that. I wanted a marriage in which we were equals and shared in all things, even compromise. I lost on both aspects, or I simply was fooling myself when the true picture was staring me in the face.
    I can only say that I’m sorry LA, as I know that this sort of situation has occurred before from some of your blog posts. Answers I don’t have, other than to say confront the issue clearly and calmly and try to find manageable results that are fair. I pessimistically believe that may be easier said than done.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. This scenario was exactly what happened when I just dated my husband. There were a lot of stress and arguments because our social needs were in conflict. We had many talks about this and sadly, I don’t have a perfect answer. Fast forward 12 years, we sort of compromised with him cutting down the number of people we need to hang out with and me acknowledging a select few of his friends as my own friends. Building common interests with this extended circle of friends, although not failsafe, really helped.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Fir the most part my husband knows that I hate groups, so he is very fair about limiting the times he wants me to do things like that. In this case, things spiraled out of control. But yes…it’s hard

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Ummm…I have too much to say about this for an adequate comment. So, I’ll just add that this is also in compromise territory, which I decided a few years back to do less of. It also falls into who cares about what other people think territory, which I also have left behind. Okay. I have more to say, but I’ll stop there for real this time.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. You know I now want your whole opinion….as I’ve gotten older I have decided that compromise is only good for little things. I’ve begun to feel that on big things, it’s better for one person to get their way, and then on the next big thing the other gets their way. I don’t think a relationship can survive if you never get exactly what you want. And I really don’t care about the feelings if others

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Okay. So, I was thinking a lot of this could’ve (in my judgmental, not in your relationship mind) been alleviated by just saying no in the beginning. No, I don’t want others around. I was wondering if you or your husband don’t feel comfortable allowing the other person to be who s/he is? I don’t have a way to say this through written communication w/o sounding offensive, I think, so I hope you are not offended. But that’s what I was thinking. Why couldn’t you say, “hey, I thought you and I were going to just be together tonight?” or “I was hoping to just have dinner with you tonight.” Also, I was thinking that you all could’ve have left when the other couple showed up. I have a friend couple who shows everywhere late. I’ve learned to not worry about what they think when I’m ready to go (after the show up two hours later than everyone else, not only because I really don’t care, but also because THEY didn’t care when we said dinner reservation is at 7. Know what I mean? Like, I don’t have to be more caring than you to show I care. I think friends should respect one another’s time and face the consequences of one’s actions. Showing up two hours later means you might eat without everyone else.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. In this case, we were going to a bar to watch college football. In my mind it wasn’t a “date night”. There’s a food network competition show, and one of the contestants owns a place down the block from my house, and he’s a firefighter, so my thought was to support him. It was all the extras that really set me off….and the late people? I don’t understand how people, especially our age, do that!!!

        Liked by 1 person

  12. I sort of had this happen to me this week. My husband was pressuring me to go to the Harvard/Yale game, which I have no interest in attending, and trying to guilt me into it. I finally said that I’m a generally accommodating person, but I don’t want to go and I’m not changing my mind. So he’s going and meeting his friends. He gets what he wants, and so do I.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. For the most part, my husband knows I hate the group thing, and doesn’t ask too often. I was more pissed about expecting me to stay when the other people got their as we were leaving. I know it’s awkward, and I got his point that it didn’t look right if we left, but still….it was t nice manners fir the people to show up 3 1/2 hours late. I didn’t like him putting them ahead of me

      Liked by 1 person

  13. This is a difficult one isn’t it? My hubby and I often have different expectations and I have to say we’re still working on a solution. I agree though that it’s the frequency of these situations that makes a difference. Hope you guys get a chance to talk it out and come up with something that works for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There are different issues at play here. He knows I hate the group outing thing, and only asks that I do it occasionally. My issue was him putting others before me. It’s all baby steps

      Liked by 1 person

  14. My view is probably a bit skewed given the circumstances in my relationship with Entrepreneur (he has cancer). I agree with TJ Fox in that up-front communication is essential. Laying out expectations can give a foundation for what comes next. Too often we (women) think men should know something and when it’s obvious they don’t, we get upset and believe they’ve wronged us on purpose. Sometimes that is the case, but that’s a different relationship dynamic. I’ve had many issues with Entrepreneur over our 39 years of marriage and each one boils down to what the other *expected* to have happen. It’s important for both to feel they have a voice. My voice now is very clear on things that matter most to me. And, honestly, I let a lot of things roll off my back now. I’d recommend if you want a quiet night, the key words are *date night with just the two of us.* Spell it out. Don’t assume he understands woman-speak. I advise young couples that a successful marriage is a 70/30 one where BOTH people give 70% and expect 30%. Relationships are messy but we are all created to be in relationships and community. I don’t know your worldview leanings, but one of our pastors gave a message on Marriage Myths last week. It’s very good if you are interested: https://www.thecrossingchurch.com/media-feeds/marriage-myths-3/?fbclid=IwAR1TZCP5m9FgmFOF0ISHJt5cNm_39egivvHx6-4V2HVjtXUwzc1mT9mJk-U
    It sounds like a quiet, calm conversation about how that night might have gone differently may be in his future! xoxox

    Liked by 1 person

  15. You asked “Compromise is really tricky in certain circumstances. Like, you’re getting a house, and each partner really wants a different one…how do you compromise?” As there wasn’t a reply button to continue it, I’m responding in a fresh message window …

    I agree. All too often, compromise means neither of you get what you want – and that is the route some relationships follow. Others go with the option that sometimes it’ll be your turn, and sometimes it’s theirs. While the buggins turn option can appear fairer and more appealing, unless weighting is applied across a range of aspects, it can end up being horribly unfair – if only because of the nature of pure chance.

    When an ex & I were looking for a new home and each had very different ideas, I had us each draw up lists of what we really wanted, giving each item an importance running from 1 to 10. Each of us got the right of veto over the top item on our individual lists. As we then worked our way down the remaining items on the list, we found it had become easier to horse trade. It meant I had to walk away *without complaint* to a home I very much wanted, but I’ll admit to being very happy in the home we subsequently chose.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s all about how maturely we approach things. You and partner approached it like reasonable adults. Many others would get manipulative. Communication and reasonable behavior are what we need, and often lack

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Personally, I would have reacted the same way you did. But I think that different (and perhaps unspoken) expectations do result in so much conflict and hurt feelings. It helps when we can spell things out clearly to each other in advance (you that you wanted dinner to be just the two of you, and your husband that he’d like dinner to be a big group of friends) but sometimes that just isn’t possible.
    I’m so sorry your evening was ruined!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Great post! I frequently say expectations lead to disappointments. And the higher the expectation, the bigger the disappointment. When I married my first wife, our plan was to have two children. We even had names picked out. I was going to be a flight nurse. Well, five years later we were divorced because of her cheating, one child, and I discovered you couldn’t be a flight nurse unless you had big breasts. Disappointments? Sure. But we can’t let them ruin our lives. I do think it’s important with relationships to resolve issues quickly, otherwise I think resentment builds and those little disappointments can add up.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I didn’t read anything about you telling your husband about your expectations and feelings. I am a firm believer that no one can honestly read minds, so . . . I think it is the responsibility of all parties to communicate. This, to me, includes the party that showed up two hours after the scheduled meeting time. When we go out with people we try to let them know the idea . . . “We are meeting at 7 pm and probably won’t be out past 9.” I am just thinking that there was a lot of “not communicating” going on and so people were getting their feelings hurt and schedules/time frames were not being respected. If someone has expectations and doesn’t share them with the people involved it really is the person with private/secret expectations “fault” when they are disappointed. That is just my two cents.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very good points. No one communicates well. But there’s a point where you’re in a long term relationship, and certain things are implied. I don’t like having people over the house before dinner because I have a short window of how much I want to be on. My husband knows this and chooses to ignore it when it suits him….the old easier to ask forgiveness than to ask permission. Then to me it becomes, is this the battle I want to fight. And the two hour late people is inexcusable….no one was happy about this, but then it comes down to my husband feeling bad about them showing up and us leaving. I know my husband always feels like this in social situations…he’s the guy that will never be the first to leave a party. Could everyone have communicated better…sure. But at the end of the day we all have expectations and assume things….it’s human nature

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I so am against that “easier to ask forgiveness than to ask permission” – that is my husband’s standard also. Well, yes, we all know the ASSUME saying, too, right? And I guess if we chalk it up to human nature then that is where the disappointment comes in. I hope you were able to have a little bit of a nice time at some point in the evening.

        Liked by 1 person

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