Saturday, January 1, 2011

Do you know about the "unwritten contract" in relationships? Most people don't even know the contract exists.. until that is that the contract is violated. The contract has to do with expectations, it's about the stories we tell ourselves about how love "should" be expressed, how people "should" treat us, how they "should" behave. The contract is our belief system about how others should respond if they tell us they love us or if we think they ought to love us. It also applies to dating, business relationships and friend and family relationships.
Here are some aspects I've noticed lately about my 'hidden contract'...
If someone says they love me, then they "should" call me frequently, be thinking about me, include me in their plans, definitely call me on holidays, they should be showing me that I am special to them, speaking to me in an affectionate way, with warmth, playfulness, expressing interest in me and what I am up to. They "should" want to connect with me, spend time with me, be excited to see me, they "should" be telling me often how attracted to me they are, how pretty I am and how much they want me.
If they don't do this.. then I start telling myself stories... They don't really care about me, they don' t really love me, something is wrong, maybe something is wrong with me, maybe I don't deserve it, I'm not _______ (attractive, sexy, together, fun, interesting, resolved/healed, ambitious) enough.
When I start to feel like someone that I love is not showing up for me, not responding in a loving way, (even a friend that won't return my calls) I feel overexposed and want to contract and go into self protection. I often don't even notice that this is happening. Rather than looking at my own belief about the "broken" contract, my beliefs about how love "should" be expressed and what is arising for me when my expectations are not met, I often go into a story about how the other person is doing something wrong, they are unkind, unfeeling, not caring or sensitive enough. I'll notice that I feel sad that the interaction feels cold rather than warm, I'll focus on what I am not getting and I'll contract and pull back.
After many years of striving to see this, often I still don't. I'll go straight into "the story" about what was happening rather than noticing what was actually happening.
So what was actually happening? Really nothing is happening.. but here's what my head says..
I want more, I am not getting enough, enough love, enough calls, attention, affection, consideration, I am not desired enough, I don't feel special enough. I feel a sense of emptiness, a restlessness.
When I believe this stream of thoughts, it feels bad, I feel bad, I feel sad. Often I will share this with whoever I want to be doing something different. It might sound like complaining. This time it did not go over so well, it was actually totally ineffective and as I think back, often this is the case, when you tell someone they are not meeting your expectations, that they are not doing enough for you, they are often defensive and the result is exactly the opposite of what I want, more distance.
Another response might be to
1. notice my desire for things to be different
2. notice what story I am telling myself about how this behavior means this... how it should be.
3. notice how I feel when i believe the story, that they violated the contract, they are wrong!
4. instead of focusing on getting, focus instead on giving what I want, to myself and them.

It's a crazy dynamic.. wild how when one person is super open, ready to really love and cherish and flow the love.. how the other person will run like the wind.. what's up with that?

love to hear your feedback..

1 comment:

  1. absolutely fantastic post.
    so often, i have not recognized the expectations i've put onto others until i feel hurt by those expectations not being met. lately i have been working toward greater and greater honesty, getting really raw and taking risks with it, and that is making it so much better and more alive. sometimes fear will kill us, and the thing we're afraid of isn't even that bad!