What to expect when your expectations are not met

My unsolicited relationship advice

Genevieve Esh

More stories from Genevieve Esh

December 14, 2022

what kind of people would you like to have at your table?

Relationships are incredibly difficult. I don’t know much about romantic ones from personal experience, but I know a lot of people who do. On the other hand, I have plenty of experience with friend and family drama.

One big issue with relationships is staying in them when dealbreakers arise. 

We need to start thinking of red flags as stop lights instead of yield signs. They’re a chance to pause and assess the relationship — not something to put a pin in for later.

When certain situations arise — such as toxic masculinity or a power imbalance — they’re a signal for what you can expect from a friend, partner or parent going forward.

If you find that any relationship isn’t serving you well, is hurting you in any way or just needs a break: make whatever changes necessary to protect your well-being.

A very important thing to keep in mind in relationships is that you need to take care of yourself. In every scenario you need to be prioritizing yourself because no one else can do that for you.

Think of the relationship as a car. You and the other party are driving the car together. Each person has a steering wheel, gas and brake pedals. We need to be able to communicate and work together to be able to get anywhere in the car. 

Another detail of this analogy is that the driver — which in this case is each person in the relationship — will always protect their side in the event of the crash. People naturally make decisions to benefit and protect themselves first. It’s a survival instinct.

So why does this matter? It’s important to note that in the event of a ‘crash’ you need to take necessary measures to stay safe and happy because your friend or partner is undoubtedly doing the very same.

Long story short: you need to prioritize yourself. As hard as it seems, preserving your well-being is necessary to fodder current and future relationships so that they continue to serve you.

You have to feed and water the garden to retain any harvest, and you have to be wary of weeds. They’ll trick you into thinking they’re just another plant, but they can and will infect your entire crop to the point of needing to rebuild.

Same goes for people — they might be picture perfect on the outside, but rotten on the inside. It’s not your fault if you find yourself with one of these people. I’ve known plenty and the trick is to cut them off at the roots. It’s the hardest thing to do but it’ll save you in the long run.

Remember to stay in tune with relationships around you. Don’t just learn from your missteps, but others’ as well. This will make repeating such mistakes less likely in the future.

Listen to those around you. We don’t always see red flags if they’re waving in our direction, but listen to others if they voice concern because they might have a better vantage point. 

Just be careful with relationships. They’re like fire — helpful and necessary, but potentially dangerous and hurtful.

Choose your family, friends and loved ones. Choose them well and never settle, because even if someone fails to meet your expectations you don’t need to lower them. Someone else will come along who will meet your standards.

Take care out there.

Esh can be reached at [email protected].