How to Ease Through the Difficulties of Love

by Janet Ong Zimmerman on 01/08/2013

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Ups and downs in love are a common occurrence, whether you’re single, dating, divorced, in a good relationship, in a complicated relationship, or married. When love is going well, you’re in sync with “what is”, life is more effortless and you have a sense of well being. What happens when love becomes difficult?

The Problem: Our Expectations

Shutting down and stress go hand-in-hand when love isn’t going so well. Difficult experiences in love — such as miscommunication leading to misunderstanding, passive aggressive behavior towards a partner who’s upset you, being mistreated by a partner, etc. — make it hard to respond from a loving place. We instinctively respond negatively because what’s happened isn’t what we want, our needs aren’t being met and we’re not able to “just be” with what’s happened.

In other words, our expectations of how someone or something should be cause unnecessary pain. This can make things seem worse than they really are. Expectations are draining because we’re looking for a certain outcome to happen. Trying to control the outcome keeps our mind closed and unable to see other possibilities. Expectations keep us locked into the way we’ve always done things and allow for no flexibility and no trust that the outcome may be even better than we expected.

Consider that expectations about yourself, your partner and your love life don’t allow you to move with ease through the difficulties of love. What if there’s a healthier, more productive way to move through these tough situations?

The Solution: Set Intentions

Instead of having expectations on how your love life should be, set intentions. Intentions open up perspectives and possibilities that better support you on your journey to love. You’ll travel with more ease without the internal struggle and judgment of having to have things be a certain way. Intentions soothe your soul because you’re able to be with what is. Intentions are more flexible because you’re open to receiving what you’re supposed to have for where you are on your life’s path.

Set an intention by being clear on what you want and being detached from the outcome. Don’t be concerned with “how” things are going to happen. When you’re clear on what you want, then behave and take action in ways that support your heart’s desire, your results may be even better than you could have imagined. For instance, if you clearly want to be treated like a lady, leave your masculine energy at work and tap into your feminine traits in your love life. Do this consistently and great results will happen naturally.

Do You Have Expectations or Intentions?

Here are some ways to determine whether you have expectations or intentions.

You have expectations when you’re:

  • Holding tightly to your point of view
  • Unable or unwilling to see the other person’s perspectives
  • Feelings are draining you (e.g. unhappy, disappointed, depressed, etc.)
  • Closed off to someone for superficial reasons
  • Wanting things to happen a certain way
  • Trying to control your partner (or the outcome)
  • Not able to lighten up about love
  • Looking to someone else to fulfill your unmet needs

You have intentions when you:

  • Would rather be loved than right
  • Feel open and inspired
  • Have a sense of freedom
  • Have faith that all is and will be well
  • Don’t take things too seriously
  • Are open to learning and making improvements from within
  • Are open to the outcome

Shift from Expectations to Intentions

Setting intentions doesn’t happen naturally. I make a conscious effort to set intentions in certain situations to keep from falling into expectations. I’m hopeful that in time and with practice, intentions will come more naturally to me.

My intention for you is that you practice shifting from expectations to intentions. I promise that when you consistently set intentions, you’ll notice a big improvement in love. What are three intentions you can set for your love life?


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  • Save My Relationship

    I’ve never really looked at trying to set expectations to intentions, and I realize how having expectations may have added to some unwanted stresses and disagreements in my marriage. This is a great message you have expressed in this article. I’ve been guilty of having too many expectations such as holding on to my side of the argument and point of view to the point that I don’t even listen to my husband’s argument. It just leads to more fighting that doesn’t boil over for a few days. We haven’t gone through any marriage ending kind of arguments, but we’ve certainly spent more time fighting than we each care for.My three intentions to set are: I would rather be loved than be right, I don’t want to take things too seriously, and I want to be open to all outcomes.

    • Dear Ellen, thank you for commenting on this post. I love your three intentions and believe that your arguments will subside as these intentions are put into practice. Sending you much love.

  • Marie

    Thank you Janet for this site. I am learning to have intentions rather than expectations. I’m struggling with the emotions taking over and trying to control the situation. I have to repeat “Let Go and Let God.” The last person I dated was a guy who was Dx with ptsd from Iraq war. He was managing it with struggles, and the fact that he was up front about it made me appreciate him even more. Long story short, after a month of dating he had lost his job, accident, no vehicle, no money and he had a few recollection episodes that I was by his side for. Just to spend time with him I’d pick him up, I’d pay for drinks, dinner, then being intimate on top of that. I don’t care about material possessions. I will be there through thick and thin, but at the same time I want to make sure that I’m not being taken advantage of either. I had to take a step back and analyze…. Am I giving of my heart and body before I should?? Yes, I am. I care about him very much, but I also have to protect my heart. I told him we have to stop being intimate and save that if we move foreward and actually have a real bf/gf relationship. I said I’m here if he ever needs me as I have grown to have feelings for him and the ptsd is not who he is. I am want to be there for him to help him through his managing of it. He said he agreed, but haven’t heard much from him since then. Granted, he’s got a lot on his plate and working through things, but I have to be fair to my heart, my mind and my quest for true love. Sorry so long, just getting this out:)

    • Dear Marie, thank you for sharing your story with me. Learning to have intentions instead of expectations is a worthwhile practice. The practice of setting intentions helps you enjoy your journey to love with more ease. Your decision to do what’s best for you shows that you are respecting and loving yourself. When you behave and act in ways that are respectful and loving towards yourself, you will attract a man who treats you with respect and love. Be strong and stay true to what you really want and don’t get sidetracked by men who aren’t right for you. Sending you much love.

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