Summer Loving: What Are Your Expectations?

Are you thinking this is the summer you’ll meet someone and start dating?

Are you hoping to reconnect with your spouse this summer because it’s the first time in what seems like forever that you’re actually going away together?

Would you like to finally have that conversation with your family member to smooth over past hurts?

Summer has always been one of my favorite times of year, even before I began studying love and relationships. Sunshine, beach days, barbecues, cocktail parties, family time, vacation, ice cream and watermelon… AND summer love!!

Did you know that you actually expect love to be better, hotter, more steamy, passionate, and maybe even more scandalous during summer time?* Love is more appealing in the summer as you feel more free from regular routines and constraints, worry less about deadlines and commitments, and are more open to new experiences. And you are more sociable and positive in sunnier weather, so you have more of an opportunity to meet people, not to mention that you have been conditioned (since age 5!) to look for spontaneity and play come June! 

On the flip side, though, we are also still dealing with COVID and travel disruptions, horrific news of violence around the world, political divide, and the list goes on… not to mention that sometimes it just rains on your beach vacation. 

So what can you do to manage your expectations and maximize your relational happiness?

Three quick things (which, if you scroll down, are available as a downloadable and printable worksheet to use as a self-reflection tool!):

First, identify your expectations.

What are you hoping for this summer in regard to your relationships — whether that be with your spouse, kids, friends, or traveling partners? 

Be specific here and take a moment to think through your expectations — spoken or unspoken. I’d encourage you to even write them down on the worksheet below!

Second, adjust your expectations.

Look at your list of hopes and expectations and ask yourself, “What do I have control over this summer? And where might I need to let go, recognizing I can’t control others?” Then, adjust your expectations accordingly.

Remember, there are two sides to expectation: what you expect from others and what you expect from yourself.  And since you can’t control how Grandpa behaves at the dinner table when you’re on family vacation, just focus on controlling yourself. Research shows that if you have low expectations for things you can’t control and realistic expectations for things you can control, you fare better.

Lastly, communicate your expectations.

I’d encourage you to think of a safe person that you can share your expectations with and make time to chat with him or her.

This is a great way to honor your own voice!

Bottom line is this: how you own and manage your expectations — and set realistic ones! — is crucial for your mental, emotional, and relational health. Big expectations, especially uncommunicated ones, can set you up for disappointment, so it’s important to take time to name what you expect and then evaluate and adjust that as needed. Setting accurate and realistic expectations sets you up for success as it helps you make good decisions!

So here’s to being realistic and mindful of your relational expectations this summer as you continue to stand in love!

Here’s a worksheet summarizing the steps above to use for your own journaling and self-reflection! Feel free to download, print, and share!

* Fun fact: Exposure to sunlight triggers your body to produce mood-boosting dopamine and serotonin, PLUS a hormone called MSH, and all of these things increase your libido.

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