Expectations and Projections in Marriage, Relationships, Business and Life



Expectations and Projections in Marriage, Relationships, Business and Life

Written By: LaVonia Carole
On May 09 2012

Let’s sit down and talk....

People know what I expect of them, right? I have lived with them for ... number of years. Or maybe they have worked for me for ... number of years so they know what I expect of them by now. How could anyone not know after all these years? Well, let’s examine this.

How many years have I been with them? Do I know what they expect of me? I may think I know but if I verbally ask what they expect of me I will probably be surprised. There was a time in my life when I was certain I knew what my former husband was thinking and feeling. I had been with him for many years by this point. I would look at his face and think, “he is thinking this,” or “he is feeling this”. I was certain I knew what he was thinking or feeling and would base my actions and words on what I projected he was feeling. By doing this I projected myself onto him.

A friend challenged me to look and see how true my projections were. By this time it was an ingrained habit. However, I started verbally asking him what he was thinking or feeling after I projected it. I was wrong virtually every the time. Usually I was not even close. Nevertheless, this was my routine behavior with him and others. I now needed to break this habit.

What I started to do was every time I caught myself projecting with someone I would ask a question. “I am wrong about 99% of the time. What is the chance I am correct this time?” Sometimes I was just certain I knew what that person was thinking or feeling. At those times I would ask them. Guess what? Every time I was wrong.

Recently I have noticed my kids asking me why I am looking a certain way. My face must have some strange or angry look on it? I am always caught off guard because usually I am deep in thought. Recently, I was looking at a truck, trying to read the ad on the side and wondering why he was driving as he was. My son asked why I looked like that? I was a tad embarrassed because of my contorted face and possibly being judgmental of someone’s driving. Perhaps, I was projecting the driver’s attitude. When I project then I develop expectations based on my projections.

According to the dictionary, expectations are “a strong belief that something will happen or be the cause of in the future” also a “belief that someone will or should achieve something”. Since expectations are based on future events and none of us knows the future then I am setting myself up for resentment or disappointment. When I expect that someone to know what I want in situation, without ever verbally telling them, then I set myself up for disappointed. This disillusionment can lead to resentment and anger with another person.

They did not perform as I wanted them to. Never mind that I never told them this... “But they should just know!” Why? Why should they know what I want? Just like I can not project, what others are thinking or feeling. They can not know what I want in a given situation.

Projecting my thoughts, feelings or expectations onto others leads to all kinds of problems in relationships. I have to verbalize my desires (or expectations) of others. Then give them the choice to fulfill those or not. If I do not verbalize what I expect, I should not get upset when “it” does not happen. In addition to this, when I project what I think someone is thinking or feeling, it is certain I am thinking wrong.



  • When I think I know what someone is thinking or feeling ask them to see if I am correct instead of assuming I know.
  • When I want something from someone ask them for it instead of trying to leave hints and expecting them to "get it".


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