A colleague of mine stopped me in the hallway at work and was looking quite upset. She asked me how I always managed to be so calm and happy when surrounded by idiots, imbeciles, and incompetents. I told her that happiness is all about expectations, and that her expectations were too high. Of course that is easy to say but not always easy to do, so another example might be helpful.
I once had a relationship with a (gasp) married woman. She wasn't married to me, which I'm told made the relationship an "affair." I was single, so I'm not sure if it meant that we were both having an affair or just her, but I didn't really care, and I still don't. What is relevant, at least to the topic of expectations, is that people close to me said there was no future in it, so why was I being so stupid – I could only get hurt. I replied that I treat all love relationships like they are vacations.
When you go on a vacation, you don't expect it to last for the rest of your life, but you still go. Why? Because it is fun, exciting, restful, and/or some other very positive experience. And when your vacation is over, you are really glad you went. So why can't people treat relationships like that?
All too often I hear people say that they wasted a year or two years with someone because their relationship ended. Are vacations wasted if you had a good time? No. And neither should relationships – if you go into them with the proper expectations. Of course we all want that "'till death do us part,"– the love-of-our-life. If we find it, that's great. But we shouldn't expect relationships to be like that, because to do so guarantees a lot of disappointments and unhappiness.
Most people have lots of relationships during their lives, but they should not expect each of them to last. They should treat each one like a vacation that has no predefined end. I've never had a relationship that I regret. Granted there have been some that ended poorly, but in the context of the time-span of the relationship, it was not all that different from having some rain on the last day of a vacation.
My best friend in the whole world is a woman who ended our relationship six months before our planned wedding. It ended our plans for marriage and a life together, but it didn't spoil all of the wonderful times we had. And we still have lots of wonderful times together – except that they no longer involve lying down.
If I could have one loving relationship that lasted for the rest of my life, that would be wonderful. But if I knew ahead of time that I could only have a series of one-year relationships, that would also be wonderful. Life is not in the future or in the past. Life is in the moment. If our moments are loving ones, what more can we ask? Everything is temporary – including us.