People have expectations of us. No doubt. Some are high. Some are low. Some people just take it as it comes, with a grain of salt, and accept whatever you have to give. Often, relationships with these people are characterized by ease. Eventually, even these relationships experience a "snag." The snag is most likely due to a failed expectation--their disappointment and your failure to do or be what is wanted, needed, or expected. True friends are able to get passed this snag. They can "see" a person clearly and can easily understand that failed expectations have little to do with the person in question, but have to do with failed communication or acceptance of what is. And sometimes, we have our own reasons for denying a person what she thinks we owe her. Maybe we don't have it to give. Maybe we don't think this expectation comes from need but, instead, from personal desire. Or maybe we just plain don't want to give it.
I've been on both sides of having expectations and not being able to meet expectations. In both instances, there was a lack of desire and even an ability to give, maybe because a kind of poverty, emotionally or otherwise. We aren't always able to be there for others. And the reasons are many. Does that make us bad friends? Maybe. Does it mean we don't care? Maybe and maybe on the contrary. What conditions prevail? We have to take into account individual freedom and will.
Take unrequited love. At some point, we may expect to be loved in return because we feel we deserve it or simply because it's what we want. We may even become angry that we are not loved in return. We may find ourselves in the throes of war because we feel rejected, jilted, slighted. But, whose purpose is it to love us anyway? Who has to love us?
No one does. No one was created to give us exactly what we want when we want it. There's a kind of grace that goes along with reciprocity, with give and take, with accepting and rejecting. An expectation places a condition on something and says it isn't free. It is expected. Expectations fall just short of being demanded. The only expectation that goes without saying is something like treat others how you want to be treated. Human affairs require the generosity of respect, even if without understanding. You may not understand why I do the things I do, but all humans deserve "respect for the dignity of [their] humanity," according to Emmanuel Kant. This is a very basic requirement, a necessity, and need not be called an "expectation." Anything more becomes frill, but not unimportant. Respecting you does not demand that I love you or pay your bills or help you fulfill your wants. The frill of expectation demands that I love you, pay your bills, and fulfill your wants.
You do not owe me a thing. The most essential ingredient to peace, near or far, is respect. Our mutual benefit from and belief in respecting one another is the only requirement for proving it's legitimacy as a necessity.
The rest is given because it wants to be given. You want to give to me, despite any foreknowledge of or acquiescence to my expectations. And I want you to want to give to me. I don't want you to feel, in any way, coerced into giving me what I want. It is then that the gift is not a gift, is not free, but is payment upon obligation.
I've disappointed some people in my short time. I've failed to meet certain expectations and didn't give what another most likely could have given (or did give). At times, I've been remiss, without excuse, except for ignorance. At other times, I just didn't have it to give. And at other other times, I either had a different idea of what I needed to give or just really didn't want to give it, with no thought of how the other person would perceive it.
Not taking things personally is a healthy perspective here. We meet people we want to form relationships with, and we aren't always on equal footing. We may have different ideas about giving and receiving, and we may have different things to give. Circumstances are conditional, consequences are causal, and life is temporal. Our individual wills dictate that we will decide, now and in the future, what we're willing to accept and to give and what expectations we will cast on others. Without judging and holding on, we can be lenient and open. We can allow others the room to give what they have to give, or let them go when we don't think it is enough.
In the mean time, we, too, can sit and think about ways in which we've wronged others and ask for forgiveness, even if our search for forgiveness stays within the realms of our own minds and with other sounding boards. We can be honest about our need for forgiveness and may more easily give it to others. We can forgive ourselves for being human, and forgive others. Then, we can move on, keeping with the flow of conditionality, causality, and temporality.