Realistic expectations

Great Expectations, and those which are not so great.

I wrote a post about expectations in our D/s before which explains how expectations work and the things that can be problems to meeting them at points. One of the key things is to have realistic expectations so that is what this post will focus on. Expectations are central to a D/s relationship for both parties. For the submissive they need to know what is expected of them and try to meet that, and for the Dominant they need to make sure that they stick to the expectations they have given the submissive or else it will affect the trust.

Expectations are premeditated resentments

There is that saying that ‘expectations are premeditated resentments’. There is a good article in Psychology Today which explains about why this can be the case and concludes that actually is it the unrealistic expectations which cause resentment. It was interesting to me though as looking at the reasons they give, in a successful D/s lifestyle dynamic, it should not be an issue.

Expectations among people are often based on an implicit social contract. That is, without actually verbalizing expectations about give-and-take in a relationship, people construct stories in their heads about legitimate expectations of each other. So, people in a relationship have a “deal” in which the specifics of the deal are never really talked about. It is hard for someone to live up to your expectations when they don’t know what they are.

Believing that an unverbalized expectation will bring you what you want is magical thinking and is unrealistic. Expecting that doing what in the past has reliably brought about a result you want is realistic. Expecting others to do what is in your interest, but not their interest, is unrealistic.

The Psychology of Expectations

D/s and realistic expectations

In a D/s relationship expectations should not be ‘unverbalised’. Communication is key and so the magical thinking is not needed. We are clear about what we want, think, feel etc. In this way, when working effectively, D/s should mean that the channels of communication are open and the expectations are verbalised and shared.

‘Expecting others to do what is in your interest but not theirs is unrealistic’: Again, not in D/s. The focus is on meeting the needs of the other. These needs should have been openly and honestly communicated and any issues then discussed and worked through. Beyond that you have an agreement that you will put the other first: the submissive to meet their needs by pleasing their Dom through actions and behaviour, and for the Dominant to meet the sub’s needs by keeping them safe and focussing on their growth.

In many ways it is fool proof. Each knows what to expect and what is expected. Expectations are realistic, communicated, and met. If an expectation is not realistic then there would be discussion and agreement as to how to proceed. There is a structure and routine which supports this and reinforces it on a daily basis. The emphasis is on meeting the needs of the other and you don’t need to worry about your own self-interest as you are trusting that your partner is focussing on your needs and has your best interest at heart.

So what goes wrong?

No one is perfect and realistically we should not expect them to be – see what I did there? No situation is perfect either and things will come along which stop either the communication, or the focus on the other, and what happens then is that expectations are not met in the same way. If things are only a little off then you will discuss this, work it out, and get back on track. But sometimes, it is more deep rooted than that.

For example, what if it happens again? And again? You talk and it isn’t that your partner doesn’t want to do it. They do. The issue is that the thing that was happening in the paragraph above is still happening and that is still affecting their ability to communicate and/or keep you as their focus. So basically, despite being D/s and knowing that expectations should be met, they aren’t being met, and so this can cause resentment.

How does that cause a block?

If it causes resentment then likely you will come out of any sort of D/s mindset and head for a safer-feeling vanilla headspace. You can take care of yourself after all, make sure your own needs are met, and communicate what you want, when you want. Possibly this even feels like a better way to support your partner while they are dealing with said issue (now two paragraphs above. Whatever works.

But what if you don’t feel resentment? What if you feel something else? Perhaps disappointment or frustration that you temper with a desire to keep focussing on the other person and making sure their needs are met. Well, this might work to help right the situation. In that case you are back on track and off you go. But if not, (so many buts I should have made that my focus keyphrase and boosted my SEO) then you may turn to your Dominance or submission, while at the same time adjusting your expectations.

What I am talking about is thinking small rather than big. Looking for the little wins and allowing them to expand in your mind and in your life. Essentially, you are lowering your expectations so that they become realistic. This is a good strategy and one which has helped many during the current circumstances (by that I mean a national pandemic and not what sits in the paragraph now four above). And in terms of D/s it does help, but lowered expectations lead to a lowered dynamic. You are still doing it, but not doing it as much or as hard or as successfully.

The need for realistic but high expectations

This is a situation we have found ourselves in quite a bit over time. Expectations which are often not met will affect the levels of trust. This doesn’t mean that you don’t trust, just that you don’t trust as deeply or on as many levels. This will likely be reflected in your behaviour and actually when the lower expectations are surpassed, you may not respond in the way you would have when they were the realistic expectations.

I suppose what I am saying is that in my humble opinion, D/s is based on high expectations. To lower them, even in response to inconsistency in meeting them affects the dynamic. For us, when it happens, this can be seen not just in the bedroom but also in the other areas where we have woven it into our lives. To fix it is easy but you have to be able to move past whatever caused it to alter in the first place. To continue to reset over and over and allow the same thing to happen is tiring and takes its toll.

When you are ready to commit to meeting the expectations set, and know for a fact that you can and will achieve them, then you simply communicate that and start doing it. Very soon everything will fall back into the place that you want it to be. Basically I suppose what I am saying is that to live a successful D/s lifestyle, you have to be able to set and meet the highest of expectations. These don’t have to be realistic by other people’s terms, but they do have to be achievable and realistic for you.

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E for Expectations

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  1. Expectation is a kissing cousin to anticipation. Sitting on a porch swing, chatting about how great tomorrow to going to be and completely ignoring the present. Expectation can never be in the present, because it is always anticipating what happens next. Celebrations, birthdays, holidays; they all exist solely as expectations and rarely, if ever, exceed them. If you have no expectations, then anything that happens exceeds them. Is a D/s contract truly made up of expectations? I’m not sure.

    • I suppose for us when expectations in a D/s sense are not met and this happens over an extended period, it can be hard to maintain the right mindset. I understand what you are saying about anticipation and so I guess when you stop expecting and anticipating much of the excitement goes and so when an opportunity comes along, the readiness to throw yourself in fades a bit. Missy x

      • Actually, what I meant is the exact opposite. When you don’t have expectations in the D/s sense, when the opportunity comes along, you can more readily throw yourself into a scene and it can seem fresher and spontaneous, rather than having to meet a list of exacting criteria in order to match or exceed expectations. Now that is a run-on sentence. 🙄

        • Yes I see what you mean. I see it should work like that and certainly a list of criteria would pull away from all spontaneity but often we find when our expectations become lessened we slip into not being as bothered or having as much energy for it all. I think I am probably talking about the everyday things rather than the play but for me that helps me to be in the right mindset for the rest. Not sure if I am explaining what I mean. x

  2. And constantly at the heart of everything is discussion and willingness to do. If something is not agreed in advance, you can wait for anything and for as long as you like. But the result may turn out to be completely different than expected.

  3. I agree with what you say, and I get it. Expectation and anticipation aren’t always the same thing, especially in a D/s dynamic. Expectation on how a birthday party is one thing, but it isn’t an *agreed upon* expectation of behaviour, like a dynamic. The expectations you talk about in this post ( as I interpreted it anyway) are agreed upon foundations and tools to advance and cultivate a specific dynamic which is a growing entity, not a one time thing. It is organic, so obviously there will be things that come up that throw a wrench in the expectations being met, but that is natural- provided we all return to the same page of expectations when the interference has ended.

    “D/s is based on high expectations. To lower them, even in response to inconsistency in meeting them affects the dynamic” <- agreed and it's the easy way out. If those expectations were once met, it can do more than affect the dynamic it can erode or destroy it.


    • Yes that makes sense. The expectations are a big part of what makes it work. They are a given so when they aren’t met you need to lower them until you can raise them again. But by lowering them you also lessen the power exchange as you are not sticking with some of the structure that supports it. I hope that makes sense and I think we are agreeing lol x

  4. So much boils down to communication again, and making clear what we expect of each other, or even deciding together to put some things on hold. From all the ‘bad times’ we have gone through, one thing I have learned is that we both withdraw from each other when we have things to deal with, but that we should keep on talking to each other, or resentment will set in. Maybe sometimes it’s better not to have any expectations at all, but just take things as they come. Now there’s a thought to ponder.
    ~ Marie xox

    • Indeed. I am not sure I would be good at that. I don’t have the patience that you do either. I will think some more about this though x

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