“A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.” ~ Lao Tzu
What is love other than to care for another more than you care for yourself? What is love other than to put another’s needs ahead of your own? What is love other than to love without expectation?
Love is not reciprocal. Love is selfless. It is giving through sacrifice, expecting nothing. You may have dreams, plans and expectations coming into a relationship, but as the old boxing quote says: “Everyone has a plan until they are punched in the face.”
Instead of trying to force yourself into the fully-scripted roles of the perfect relationship, it’s advisable to let go of your expectations and dependence on your partner for affection and validation. Love that has no expectations cannot be betrayed. Betrayal is only possible when an exchange is expected.
So, for all that someone is, love them. Appreciate them for who they are rather than for how well they fit your pre-existing fantasies of how things should be. This way you’ll free your heart from any anger or frustration and begin to love unconditionally, even if it has to be love from afar.
When you love unconditionally without expecting anything, you’ll establish a special and rare relationship anchored on affection that is free and non-possessive. Your relationship will be pure and honest because you are not merely using another to satisfy general self-interested desires.
How often do we set the bar too high to reach and then use this as an excuse not to love completely? Jonathan Lockwood Huie said it right, “A wonderful gift may not be wrapped as you expect.” Let everyone be completely who they are. Don’t try to control or change them. Just love them – as they are – right now.
View people through the lens of compassion and acceptance. And then let circumstances freely and naturally resolve themselves into the most perfect outcome for all involved. Chances are those you love without expectation will dazzle you when they in turn begin to see you in your truest light.
Here are little ways to love without expectation.
- Love yourself first—totally and unequivocally. Be okay with yourself. If you can do that, then the need for others disappears.
- Believe and have faith in the good intentions of that person you love. There is good in everyone.
- Accept that person just as they are. People are not ours to own or rearrange.
- Smile, laugh and spend more time with that person, exploring new and challenging activities together. It builds intimacy.
- Protect and defend him or her always, including protecting their sense of dignity as human beings.
- Be truthful and honest in your interaction with them. Stop playing them.
- Voice your love and affection to them openly. Whisper in their ear how beautiful they are each morning.
- Express your affection physically. A simple kiss on the cheek or light touch on the shoulder can bring healing.
- Respect and treat that person like a gentleman or lady—with courtesy and dignity.
- Don’t lie or cheat on them. Stay faithful to your relationship until the end.
- Don’t whine, nag or complain all the time. It vexes the spirit.
- Don’t criticize them all the time. Instead, encourage and support them whenever you can.
- Show more compassion. We all need a little understanding from others.
- Surprise them with deeds of kindness when they least expect it.
- Be there for them when they need a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on or someone to uplift their spirits.
- Don’t compare your relationship with what others’ have.
- Stay calm, collected and keep working on making your relationship better.
- Cultivate a thick skin in the relationship, knowing that challenges are an inevitable part of life.
- Forget your personal investment in that person or in the relationship. That way you won’t expect a return on investment.
- Don’t blackmail or manipulate them to do your bidding.
- Don’t keep unnecessary secrets from them. Secrets indicate that there is a lack of trust and authenticity in the relationship.
- Listen to what they have to say with an open mind and a view to understand where they are coming from.
- Speak up in defense of that person you love and the integrity of your relationship when confronted by others.
- Talk openly, face-to-face with that person about what’s bothering you.
- Stop focusing on that person’s flaws or things that upset you about them too much. It is not worth it.
- Sit, discuss and plan for the future together.
- Don’t shift blame and heap it on them, rather take responsibility for your own actions.
- Apologize for your mistakes, learn from them and make amends where appropriate.
- Forgive offenses committed and move on. Life is too short to hold on to grudges and be unhappy.
- Celebrate that person when they are in your life, and let them go when they leave. Don’t force anyone to stay.
If you can do these things and have no expectation for any particular outcome, it is a glorious sign of emotional maturity. You become a better person and take the reins in the relationship.