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“Ugh. I can’t believe they did that. This is not what I signed up for.”
That’s what goes through your mind when you feel disappointed in your partner.
You’ve heard it before, am I right?
Truth is, we’ve all been disappointed in our relationships before. That’s because no relationship is perfect.
But what should you do when you feel this way? Is your relationship doomed to fail or can you make things right?
Let’s start by making a distinction between two types of disappointment…
Specific Vs. General Disappointment
Before we can explore the ways in which to deal with your relationship frustrations, it’s worth saying that disappointment comes in two flavors.
The first relates to a very specific grievance you have with your partner. It’s the kind of disappointment that flares up every so often when, much to your displeasure, they behave in a way that goes against your wishes.
Perhaps they leave a pile of dirty clothes on the bathroom floor, rock up late to your friend’s birthday party because they were too busy gaming, or spend your date night glued to their phone.
Then there’s the more general kind of disappointment. The feeling that things aren’t quite what you’d like them to be…
…when that voice in your head starts saying things such as, “they’re not who I thought they were” or, “is this really how it’s supposed to be?”
Keep this distinction in mind when reading the rest of this article. Depending on what situation you find yourself in, the ways to deal with it differ slightly.
What Are You Disappointed In?
Leading on from the two types of disappointment, it’s time to get to the heart of what is disappointing you.
Are you upset because you’ve told your partner on multiple occasions that something they do annoys you, but they keep on doing it?
Are you feeling down about the relationship because it feels stale and boring?
Has your partner suddenly revealed a particular life preference that doesn’t fit in with your dreams (e.g. they want to live in a certain location, or they don’t want children)?
Knowing why you’re feeling the way you do is key to figuring out the best way to approach the situation.
How Does This Disappointment Feel To You?
Disappointment is a broad term that can encompass all sorts of emotions. Ask yourself what exactly it is that you feel.
Perhaps your disappointment shows itself as sadness. You are sad because your partner did something that you didn’t like or because your relationship isn’t what you’d hoped for.
Or maybe it manifests as anger at your partner or at the world for bringing these circumstances into your life.
Is shame a big part of your disappointment? Do you feel ashamed because of the state of your relationship and how the outside world views it and you?
Identifying the precise mix of emotions that you feel is important. If you want to be happy in your relationship, you will need to address each of them.
And while you might be able to deal with many of them through the same means, others might require more specific action to target that particular emotion.
Why Might Your Partner Have Behaved That Way?
If your disappointment relates to a specific thing that your partner did, there is wisdom in asking why they might have done it.
People sometimes act in ways that don’t reflect their true character. They may later come to regret these actions, but in the spur of the moment they simply don’t care.
There are plenty of reasons why this might happen…
…they might have been stressed by something at work.
…they might be really tired.
…they might be anxious about an upcoming event.
…they might be struggling with a mental health issue.
Before you let your disappointment affect the relationship too much, try to step into your partner’s shoes and feel how they might be feeling.
Using your empathy to help explain (not justify) their behavior can give you an understanding that helps combat your disappointment.
It can also allow you to help and support them with whatever is troubling their mind.
14 Steps To Deal With Your Relationship Disappointment
In order to deal with your feelings, you should go through as many of the following steps as you can.
Each one will help you to work through the disappointment and reach a point of clarity about your relationship.
1. Seek counseling.
Whether the disappointment you feel has been triggered by a particular event or by the general state of your relationship, it’s a good idea to nip it in the bud as soon as it rears its head.
If you feel like it’s something that is going to be difficult to discuss without getting into an argument, or you simply don’t feel comfortable raising the issue with your partner, there’s every chance that speaking to an experienced relationship expert will help.
You can either speak to them by yourself to help you deal with the disappointment you feel, or you can encourage your partner to join you in couples counseling (or both).
There’s a lot to be said for having a neutral third party with whom you can discuss the things that led to your disappointment and get advice in terms of how to improve the situation in your relationship.
If you feel like this would benefit you and your relationship, why not connect with one of the experts from Relationship Hero. You can chat via phone or video and explain your situation. They’ll then offer the help and guidance you need to put your relationship back on the right track.
Click here to speak to someone. There will never be a better time to start than right now.
2. Avoid thinking in “should haves.”
In order to be disappointed by someone or something, you need to be able to compare it to an alternate, ideal outcome.
In your case, you can only compare the situation to your expectations of it.
You might think in “should haves” in terms of how things ought to be.
For example, you might think that your partner should have taken the trash out because that’s their job.
Or they should have realized that you were feeling down and tried to cheer you up instead of acting as if nothing was wrong.
You might even think that your relationship should have made you feel happy all the time, rather than the highs and lows you are experiencing.
So ask yourself whether your expectations of the situation were realistic. Just because the outcome wasn’t what you wanted, should you really feel that disappointed by it?
Maybe your expectations were too high. Perhaps the outcome was more reasonable than it seems and you could be content with it if you could stop thinking that your way is the only way.
The same goes for the relationship as a whole. Are you putting too much pressure on it to solve your problems and make you happy? Can any relationship ever really live up to these ideals?
Of course, some behaviors ought not to be accepted or expected. In these instances, you have to approach the situation in other ways…
3. Weigh this negative against the positives.
If you are disappointed by something specific that your partner did or did not do, don’t view that thing in isolation.
Instead, try to remember all of the good things about your partner. We all have flaws and we can’t be expected to act perfectly 100% of the time.
Is your partner quite attentive or thoughtful in other ways even if you feel let down in this instance?
What are their good points? What made you fall in love with them in the first place?
Relationships are hard and they require you to make compromises. You have to weigh the negatives against the positives.
Doing so allows your current mindset to shift to one that is more forgiving and understanding.
If your disappointment is more general, this exercise can also help you to see that things may not be as bad as you think. Or it might confirm that they are, in which case you’ll want to keep reading to the end.
4. Place a value on whatever disappointed you.
How big a deal is the thing that you find disappointing?
Is it a small thing that you happen to find quite irritating? Or is it something more serious that causes you to question your relationship?
Give it a score out of 10 with 1 being a minor annoyance and 10 being a serious betrayal.
After careful consideration, you’ll often find that you score the incident far lower than your initial frustration might indicate.
And if something is a 2 or 3 out of 10, is it really worth getting upset about?
Yes, small things do matter, but they don’t matter as much as the big things (like those positives you noted down in the previous step).
This exercise allows you to rationalize your disappointment and see it as one thing amongst the bigger picture.
5. Ask what you can do.
A relationship is a partnership between two people and you have a say in how a situation unfolds.
So if there is something that you’re not entirely happy with, ask how you might remedy things.
If your partner is slacking off from their share of the household chores, perhaps you could rearrange who does what to make it easier for them.
Or if they really want to pursue a new career, but it’s not one that you particularly approve of, consider how you might reconcile your feelings with their wishes.
Remind yourself often that you have the power to positively influence the state of your relationship. Just because you are disappointed by something, doesn’t mean you are helpless in making it better.
Even if you are just disappointed in the relationship as a whole, you can still try to be the one who drives things in a healthier direction.
6. Don’t put your happiness in your partner’s hands.
We talked earlier about the unrealistic expectation of believing a relationship or partner can make you happy.
In truth, your happiness is not something that you can pass the responsibility for to someone or something else.
It’s just too heavy a burden for your partner or your relationship to carry.
Yes, your relationship can bring you happiness, but it shouldn’t be relied upon above all else.
Your happiness is something you must take responsibility for.
So, if you are disappointed in your relationship or the way your partner has behaved because you feel that they have withheld happiness from you, a change in thinking is required.
7. Create an open and non-judgmental environment for communication.
Communication is a vital ingredient for any healthy relationship. That’s a given.
But not all communication is effective in addressing the problems a couple might face.
The key is to create an environment in which partners can speak openly, from the heart, and without fear of being judged by the other.
So if your partner has done something to disappoint you, this needs to be communicated without it feeling like a witch hunt.
If you are just disappointed in the relationship in general, this also ought to be discussed in a way that doesn’t put the blame on your partner.
One way you can achieve this is to use the following exercise.
Sit facing your partner and tell them what you are feeling and why. But, importantly, try to use “I” statements that avoid framing the problem as something of your partner’s making.
So instead of saying, “You don’t understand me at all,” you could say, “I sometimes feel misunderstood.”
Or instead of saying, “You never ask how my day was,” try saying, “When you don’t ask about my day, I don’t feel loved or important.”
Every so often, pause so that your partner can repeat back what you have said to confirm that they have understood it. This is called mirroring.
Avoid a tone or language that may be perceived as accusatory and try to stick to one topic per conversation.
Then give your partner a chance to talk, and listen to their concerns or grievances.
Whoever is doing the listening should be sure to validate how the other is feeling. Make it known that what your partner says makes sense, even if you see things differently.
And let them know that you understand how they are feeling and that you empathize with them.
They key is to always keep the conversation as neutral as possible. You may be feelings all sorts of emotions, but try not to let these influence how you put your point across.
8. Try not to take things personally.
It’s true that the disappointment in this scenario is yours, and that your feelings are valid and they do matter.
What’s probably not true, however, is that your partner acted how they did to intentionally hurt you.
More often than not, a person acts either from their own self-interest or just absentmindedly. Either way, they didn’t do what they did with the intention of upsetting you.
Sure, they have let you down. You’ve a right to be upset and annoyed and disappointed. But it might help you to feel slightly less upset by considering the fact that malice had nothing to do with it.
This should help you to not take their actions (or lack of action) personally. By doing so, you can temper your disappointment with a realistic understanding of the situation.
9. Make it clear what you expect from them.
Your partner cannot read your mind. As helpful as that would be, they remain mostly unaware of what you want them to do until you tell them to do it.
And if you’re not clearly expressing your wants or preferences to them, of course you’re going to be disappointed when your partner doesn’t act how you would like them to.
This applies equally to the big and the small things in your relationship.
If you would like them to phone you when they are on their way home from after-work drinks, you have to say so. They won’t realize that this matters to you unless you spell it out to them. And not just once, but every time this situation occurs.
If you want to celebrate your birthday with a weekend away – and you want them to arrange it – you should, at the very least, give them some suggestions about where you’d like to go and what sort of things you’d like to do. If they book a skiing trip when you’d prefer a city break or a relaxing beach getaway, you can’t really blame them if you didn’t express your wishes clearly.
10. Try to put yourself in their shoes.
No matter how compatible you think you and your partner are, you are still two different people who are choosing to come together to form a partnership.
You are bound to view things differently to each other from time to time and to act in different ways because of those views.
Sometimes, what matters to you won’t even feature in your partner’s thinking. This can make them do things that annoy or upset you without them even realizing it. They are just taking what they feel to be the right course of action in a given situation.
So when you feel let down by something they have done or not done, try to summon all your empathy and see things through their eyes. Try to understand their actions and their reasons for them.
The more you are able to put yourself in their shoes, the more you will be able to accept that their choices won’t always meet your expectations, and that this is okay.
It doesn’t mean they aren’t a good person or the right partner for you; it simply means that there will always be some disagreements or tension when two people come together in a relationship.
11. Recognize and show appreciation for the effort they make.
You should never expect perfection from your partner in terms of how they behave. It’s unrealistic and it can only lead to constant disappointment.
But you can reasonably expect them to make an effort sometimes and to try to understand you and your likes, dislikes, needs, and wishes.
When they demonstrate that effort, it’s important that you recognize it and thank them for it. This does two important things:
Firstly, it helps you form a more positive view of your partner and your relationship. If all you ever do is focus on the things that upset your or disappoint you, you won’t have much belief in the long term survival of the relationship. By seeing their effort as a sign of their love for you, you will feel better about them and what you have together.
Secondly, by showing your appreciation for the things they do for you, it communicates to them the value you place on them. It also helps them to understand what you want them to do. By thanking them, you reinforce that specific behavior and make them more likely to act that way again.
12. Accept that people and relationships change.
If you’ve been with your partner for a number of years, your disappointment may have something to do with the way they have changed during that time.
If you still expect them to be the person they were when you first fell in love with them, or to still do the same things in the same way that they always have done, it’s no wonder you feel a little disgruntled.
Because they are not the same person and they may do things in a very different way than before. That’s just the nature of change.
Everyone changes. You certainly have, and so have they. And your relationship may have changed in some pretty big ways too. Maybe your have kids. Maybe your working situations have changed. Maybe they now dedicate more of their time to things outside of the relationship.
You should certainly feel able to have a discussion with them about how things have changed and how that makes you feel. But they should not have to justify their ever-evolving personality and views and morals.
You may ask them to explain things, but you can’t berate them for not being the person you fell for, because they aren’t. Nor are you the same person either.
So if your expectations are still based on the person they were, you might have to adjust some of them. Of course, you don’t have to adjust all of them – or any of them if you don’t want to – but so long as your expectations don’t match up with the person your partner has become, it’s going to cause all sorts of ill-feeling.
13. Do not retaliate.
If your partner does something that really upsets you, don’t think for a second that a tit-for-tat response is a good idea.
Sure, you may feel aggrieved by their actions, but if you choose to hurt them in retaliation for the hurt they caused you, it’ll only lead to rising tensions and inevitable conflict.
Talk to them about what happened and why you feel the way you do about it. But try to avoid any personal attacks on them or their character.
14. When you’ve explored all avenues…
Let’s be honest: not all relationships work out.
That shouldn’t be seen as a negative view of love as a whole, rather as a matter of reality.
If you have tried everything to overcome your feelings of disappointment, but they still persist, you have one final choice to make…
Continue the relationship in the hope that you will feel differently with time, or end it knowing that you have done all you can.
Which path you choose to walk down is something only you can decide.
Still not sure how to approach the disappointment you’re feeling? Chat online to a relationship expert from Relationship Hero who can help you figure things out. Simply click here to chat.
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