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Unmet Expectations

Liquid Church
Feb 19, 2023

Did you know that the #1 source of tension in most relationships is unmet expectations? Of course, everybody knows how an unmet expectation feels: an explosive mixture of disappointment, discontent, pain, anger, insecurity, and doubt. But, of course, no one likes to be disappointed. 

In relationships, we expect others to know what we want before we say it. When our expectations are unmet, we start telling ourselves a story. Have you been there? We conjure up all types of scenarios about what the other person thinks or assume they don't care about us. It's an agonizing and unpleasant position to be in. 

This week as part of our EQ: Emotionally Intelligent Relationships Message Series, we learn all about the stories we tell ourselves in a conflict and how to resolve tension in relationships.


How many times have you assumed another's behavior or motives based on our unmet expectations? What lie did you believe, the one you fostered inside your head, because of something another individual did not do that you thought they would have done?

Many relationships have ended based on a lie behind an unmet expectation. If only questions were asked instead of assuming what a person was thinking or feeling. Moving forward, we want to avoid prematurely ending relationships because of unrealistic expectations. 

Christianity is cruciform. It's impossible to love God well when you love others worse. Yet, we routinely play God when we make assumptions about another person's behavior or motive without verifying the facts. The stories we tell ourselves cause a lot of needless pain and confusion. They cause friction in families and make marriages miserable. They cause people to quit their jobs and leave the church. The Bible clarifies in Exodus 20:16, which says, "You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor." 


EQ is the ability to recognize your emotions, regulate them, and understand and influence the feelings of others positively. It allows you to decode emotions (yours and others') and use that awareness to help guide your decisions! 

Jesus sat down and gave his disciples a Masterclass in EQ. Look at what he says in Matthew 7:1-2, "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." In relationships, we should look at it the way Jesus does. He asked a great question: Are you generous in your interpretation of others? Do you believe in the best or assume the worst? Here's some good news: God believes the best about you! And since He does, we should extend that same belief to others. 


Emotionally intelligent adults would rather resolve the tension than dissolve the relationship. It's a choice only you can make. It begins with you. When you feel upset, hurt, angry, or disappointed, you need to look at what's happening in your heart. The truth is, we all have blind spots. It's easy to look at everything someone else is doing or isn't doing. Then, we judge them because they aren't doing what we believe they should do! But, let's look at what Jesus asks in Matthew 7:1-5, "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." 

 We want to share practical tools to help you build Emotionally Healthy Relationships with those you love–with boyfriend or girlfriend, husband or wife, parent, child, or teenager; it's not just romantic or familial relationships. You want emotionally healthy relationships at work, with your roommate, friends, or in-laws. 

This week, we encourage you to sit with your spouse, kids, friends, roommates, or co-workers and clarify expectations with that person - before there's an issue. Clarifying expectations is the only way to write a different ending to the story you're telling yourself. So, the next time you're in a situation that pushes your buttons—from a breakup to a setback at work, and you feel emotionally flooded by anger, disappointment, or embarrassment, share the story you're telling yourself and ask for the truth. John 8:32 says, "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."


  • MESSAGE: For the entire message from Part 2 of Liquid Church's "EQ: Emotionally Intelligent Relationships" Series, "The Story We Tell Ourselves," click here.
  • BOOK: Pete & Geri Scazzero. "Stop Mind Reading and Clarify Expectations," Session 2 from Emotionally Healthy Relationships workbook (Updated Edition). Grand Rapids, MI: HarperChristian, 2021. You can purchase a copy here.
  • ARTICLE: Brené Brown. Excerpt from Rising Strong: The Reckoning. The Rumble. The Revolution. You can read it here.