How to Deal With Disappointment in a Relationship

No relationship is perfect. Sometimes the voice in your head starts saying things like, “Is this really how it’s supposed to be?” or “They’re not who I thought they were.

If you’re trying to figure out the best way to approach this situation, here are some experts’ insights that will help you deal with disappointment in a relationship.

Barbara Calvi, LMFT, SEP

Barbara Calvi

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Beat The Marriage Odds

The first thing that is important to consider is that disappointment in a relationship is inevitable. It is inevitable because you are married to another human being with his/her/their own distinct brain, nervous system, filters, and identity.

There is, of course, a difference between little or minor disappointments and large-scale disappointments. But even larger-scale disappointments are inevitable.

In fact, one of the questions I always ask in the early stages of treatment with couples is “What was your first disillusionment with your partner?” This presupposes that there is one. Sometimes, they happen years into the relationship and sometimes they happen in the very first stages.

You likely feel disappointed with your partner because they either did something you didn’t like or want or didn’t do something you wanted them to do. What matters here isn’t that there is a disappointment; it is how a couple handles it when there is one.

When a partner has done something that has resulted in the other feeling disappointed, it doesn’t necessarily mean anything troubling about your relationship.

It means that your partner is different from you, may have different experiences, thoughts, feelings, preferences, and desires from you.

And at any given time, they may be in a situation where they are not able to be who you want them to be or to behave in a way you want them to behave, for their own often complex and deeply intrapersonal or intrapsychic reasons.

The important part is to remember there are various steps to handle the disappointment.

  • Set a time for the two of you to talk about what happened. Make sure it is when you are both calm and in a good place.
  • Take a risk and be vulnerable. Let your partner know what they did/didn’t do that was disappointing.
  • Go beyond expressing anger and frustration. Dig below the surface and talk about the more vulnerable and tender raw feelings that you feel. If you don’t initially feel anything other than anger, take a while and get in touch with what would be there if the anger suddenly fell away.
  • Make sure you talk about your own experience rather than going on about your partner’s behavior. Tell your partner about why this particular thing has so much impact and what the meaning you gave it.
  • Be honest with yourself about the assumptions you made about your partner and their behavior and motivations. Then, be honest with your partner about what all this was that was going on in your head.
  • Remember that you have a role to play in being heard. Staying as calm, non-judgmental, and non-critical as much as possible will help your partner be able to listen to you.
  • Each partner receiving this feedback should work on listening non-defensively. Don’t cross-complaint or bring up your own grievances. Summarize to your partner what they are telling you. Be curious and investigative. Ask any questions to help you be more able to understand their POV, even if you don’t ultimately agree with it.Take the stance of an investigative journalist. You are gently inquiring about what happened and how they feel, and doing it from a neutral place as possible. Remember, you don’t have to agree.

When one partner has finished, reverse roles and have your partner explain what was going on for them, what they were thinking, feeling, wanting, desiring when they did what they did or didn’t do.

The idea is not necessarily to come to an agreement on whether one partner was in the right to have an expectation, or whether the other partner was right to not meet that expectation – but to create a space to understand each other’s perspectives and allow these perspectives to sit side by side without either person having to be wrong.

When doing this well, partners feel a softening and tenderness for each other that enables them to initiate some repair and reconnect.

Doing this over time will help you develop the pyramid of skills required to help you navigate and address any difficult and challenging situation or conversation with your partner.

This will help you develop the three crucial capacities needed to have effective communication in really difficult and trying situations.

It can help you develop the capacity to go internal and identify what you think, feel, want, prefer, desire in real-time; be able to say difficult things to your partner while staying steady, and be able to stay steady when your partner tells you something that is difficult to hear.

Phil Boissiere, LMFT

Phil Boissiere

Relationship Specialist, The Relationship Therapy Group of San Francisco

Unfortunately, most people are actually primed for disappointment in their romantic relationships from the very start.

This phenomenon is caused in large part due to a myth that we all subscribe to – Relationships feel good, go smoothly, and fulfill us, almost automatically and if they are not then something is inherently wrong.

To make matters worse, we all have a cognitive bias that leads us to blame others for things that are going wrong. For example, when someone cuts us off while driving, we tend to jump to some internal dialogue about how they are selfish, or reckless, etc.

We rarely ever think about what may have been going on for that person. Maybe they made a mistake, maybe they are on the way to the hospital, maybe they lost their job, etc.

Related: Why Do We Blame Others for Our Failures, Mistakes, and Problems?

When we apply that same bias to our intimate relationships, we end up disappointed, resentful, and less likely to feel good in the relationship. In order to mitigate a sense of disappointment; some basic ideas need to be adopted:

Acknowledge that neither you or your partner are experts at being in your relationship

You both come to the relationship with a host of good and bad examples, behaviors, and beliefs that you picked up from your family and prior relationships.

Realize that your partner cannot fulfill you

You must seek the things in life that drive fulfillment. A loving and supportive relationship ads to fulfillment. Good sex ads to fulfillment. However, neither of these factors will fill your well completely.

Looking inside yourself and working hard to have a fulfilling life will improve your sense of satisfaction across the board.

Never expect your partner to read your mind

Often we expect that our partner will magically do the things we want them to, or magically know what we are thinking. When this doesn’t happen, we feel, you guessed it–disappointed.

Are you putting in what you want to get out? All-day long people walk into therapy offices complaining about how they don’t have enough sex, don’t feel close to their partner, are dissatisfied with their joint life direction, etc.

It is often the case, that when we look under the hood we find that the person is not doing the things that make their partner want to have sex, they are doing things that push their partner away, they don’t speak up or contribute to life planning, etc.

If you want more sex and connection, then foster it. Go back to basics, just like you did when your relationship was just budding. Dress up, pay attention, be kind, be inviting, share your thoughts, ideas, and dreams, etc.

Speak to you what you need, not what is wrong

If your partner makes you feel like an afterthought, don’t focus just on that, instead, point out what you need in order to feel like a priority in their life.

Let them know how when they greet you lovingly or bring you coffee in the morning it makes you feel loved.

Jessica Small, M.A., LMFT

Jessica Small

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist | Premarital Counselor | Parenting Coach, Growing Self Counseling and Coaching

Disappointment in a relationship is unavoidable. We often come into our relationships with expectations, some of which are subconscious and unidentified.

It is normal and common to have moments in which you feel disappointed by something happens with your partner.

The experience of disappointment itself is not an issue, it is how you handle it that counts. Here are some things to consider about feeling disappointed:

Get curious

If you are feeling disappointed, it is a good opportunity to turn inwards and identify what the underlying expectation or home was.

For instance, if you notice that you feel disappointed around holidays or your birthday, think about what these events mean to you, how they were handled in your family growing up and what your hopes and expectations are about them now.

Once you understand the underlying cause of the disappointment then you can communicate it with your partner.

Use disappointment as a way to ask for your needs to be better met

Disappointment brings about a great opportunity for communication. Consider using this outline when bringing something up to your partner: use an “I” statement to communicate your feeling followed by a positive need.

The “I” statement avoids starting the conversation from a position of blame and criticism and the positive need provides a specific action that will resolve the complaint.

For example “I felt sad/disappointed when I was excited to tell you about my new promotion at work and you seemed distracted by your phone, would you be able to put your phone down so we can talk about it now?”.

Pay attention to your expectations and reconsider them altogether

Sometimes we need to use disappointment as a tool for self-reflection and understanding. If you notice you feel disappointed often, it may be worth considering what your expectations of your partner are and reality checks if they are realistic or not.

It is common to want our partners to behave and do things in very similar ways to ourselves. Human nature is to assume our way is best, but often this can set us up to feel hurt and let down.

Working on acceptance for who your partner is and the ways that they are going to be different can often create more space to enjoy the gifts they do provide and shift into a more positive perspective.

Related: Three Keys to a Successful Relationship

Heidi Krantz, OTR, CPC, ELI-MP

Heidi Krantz

Life and Dating Coach | Founder, Reinvention Life Coaching

Disappointment is a normal and natural part of every relationship, so first of all, don’t panic when you feel disappointed. Disappointment does not necessarily mean you are with the wrong partner or that you need to take drastic or dramatic action.

Be calm and acknowledge the facts first

Stop before you lash out or before you sink into depression. Calmly acknowledge and accept how you are feeling and don’t try to push it away.

Evaluate how the disappointment relates to a core trait or value in your partner

This should be a value that is of paramount importance to you. Ideally, figuring out which core traits and values are most important to you is a prerequisite to finding a partner and this is an exercise work on with my coaching clients very regularly.

So, for example, if one of your most important qualities in a partner is honesty and your disappointment relates to that trait, you will consider your feelings of disappointment very seriously as they relate to continuing your relationship long term.

However, if your disappointment relates to a trait in your partner that is something you wish were otherwise, but is not one of your core paramount “must-have” traits, then you will approach it differently.

Communicate effectively with your partner

You will rely on healthy communication to work through it, along with self-reflection to understand what’s driving your reaction and work within yourself to let it go as you recognize once again that there is no relationship without some disappointment.

Wait until you are not feeling emotionally activated to communicate about your disappointment, and remember not to put your partner on the defensive.

Discuss what you do want rather than what you don’t want and use the word “I” more than the word “you” during the conversation. Talk about the particular action or event that was disappointing, rather than more global criticism of your partner.

When handled mindfully in this way, disappointment can actually prove to be an opportunity for the strengthening of the relationship along with valuable personal growth.

Nikki Loscalzo, Ed. M.

Nikki Loscalzo

Therapeutic Relationship Coach, Savvy Strategies Relational Life Therapy

We all experience disappointment in our romantic relationships. This disappointment develops from the gap between the relationship that you have and the one that you wish you had and it is something that we all experience but that far too few of us acknowledge is a fundamental aspect of any intimate relationship.

Our broader culture doesn’t help to model the reality of this universal disappointment. Hollywood romcoms and other people’s social media feeds all conspire to leave us feeling that our relationship and our partner are uniquely disappointing.

When we are thrust into the pain of this disappointment, we too often find ourselves acting in ways that are comfortable, familiar, and, profoundly counterproductive.

We want to close the gap and heal the crunch; we want to be close to our partner, we want them to understand what we are feeling, to see things from our point of view, and to validate our experience.

This wish for a shared perspective and reconnection is completely understandable, healthy, and universal. The problem is that what we end up actually doing in our attempt to try to get our partners to understand only ends up driving them further away and getting us even less of what we really want.

These five savvy alternatives to our default responses will help us to get closer to our partners, understand each other’s feelings, see things from each others’ points of view, and validate each other’s experiences.

In short, these strategies will help us move into connected, cherishing, and authentic intimacy.

Instead of complaining, ask them for what you want

Let your partner know what you would like them to do, now or in the future that would give you more of what you want. You have no right to complain about what you never asked for.

Take time to think of your true goal

In the midst of conflict and disappointment, it’s often difficult to behave constructively. But if you take the time to think about your true goal, connecting and repairing with the person you love, you have a much better chance of getting what you want from your partner.

Listen truthfully

When your partner comes to you seeking repair a natural response is to counter their position, defend your actions, or tell them the ways you also feel dissatisfied.

None of this will help move you back into connection. Instead, listen to truly understand, acknowledge your own behavior, and give your partner as much as you can.

Appreciate your partner’s efforts

The final steps in the repair process are to express appreciation for everything that your partner has agreed to do for you and, to offer to help your partner deliver on what they have agreed to do. Ask your partner: How can I help you to give me what I want?

Cultivate joy and pleasure in your relationship

Express appreciation for your partner. Demonstrate your love, passion, and affection for your partner. Rediscover romance, fun, and new experiences together.

Find time to be fully available and in tune with one another. Focus on the good in your relationship and in your life together.

Tracy Crossley

Tracy Crossley

Behavioral Relationship Expert

Be real and do not lie to yourself

A lot of times we try to put off disappointment by building false hope or fantasies about getting back together.

It is to not dress up the relationship to make it better than it was or different than it was—it is to really see how it was and is—it may hurt, but you get over the disappointment faster by being real with yourself.

Do not assign blame to the other person

Instead, look to yourself, how did you contribute to the relationship? What is it you did or did not do—not so you blame yourself but so you see the truth that two people created the relationship and both were part of why it did not work.

Blame means you are always waiting for someone to give you something—like an apology or something which prevents you from moving on.

It is empowering to be aware of what you did or did not do, so you can look at working on it if it is something you feel is a problem.

Try to stay away from scarcity thinking

Stop thinking they were the only ones! Or I can’t survive without them, it’s not true. You want to look at this as something to learn from and that in the future you still have an opportunity.

Dr. Carla Marie Manly

Carla Marie Manly

Clinical Psychologist

It can be difficult to handle disappointments in a relationship, particularly if the relationship is not generally healthy. We often have high expectations that we put on our partners, and sometimes disappointments result from overly high expectations.

In other cases, a partner doesn’t the ability or desire to meet certain expectations; this can be distressing, particularly if a lack of desire or interest in meeting expectations is at work.

Honor your feelings and come to know why you are disappointed

Through this process, you can come to accept disappointments and also do your best to avoid similar disappointments in the future. It’s important to follow a few steps when feeling disappointed.

  • Allow your feelings to inform you as to why you are feeling disappointed.
  • Journal about your thoughts and feelings to decompress and process the situation.
  • Assess whether or not your expectation was too high or demanding.
  • Look at whether or not you communicated your needs clearly and openly. Talking about the situation openly and honestly often results in bonding and healing.
  • When possible, communicate your feelings and needs to the other person involved; use “I” messages to avoid blaming or shaming.
  • Work to create a plan for the future to mitigate or stop future disappointments.

Related: How to Let Go of Expectations & Why It’s Important

Dr. Wyatt Fisher

Dr. Wyatt Fisher

Licensed Clinical Psychologist | Marriage Counselor

Assess your expectations

Sometimes we become disappointed in relationships because we had unrealistic expectations, to begin with. Therefore, it’s important to see if unrealistic expectations are influencing your disappointment.

Assess their behavior

Second, try to understand the causes of your partner’s disappointing behavior, such as things in their background or current circumstances. Doing so will build more compassion towards their behavior.

Discuss it with your partner

Third, discuss your disappointment with your partner to understand what’s causing it and how you may be contributing to it. Then, discuss solutions and ideas to improve it.

Jeffrey I. Kassinove, Ph.D.

Jeffrey I. Kassinove,

Licensed Psychologist | Co-Founder, Academics West and Therapy West

Dealing with disappointment isn’t easy. We spend so much of our vested energy into a relationship and, when we are disappointed or rejected, it can cause a sting to our ego and self-esteem.

Of course, it is a normal part of life and not uncommon for our partner to disagree with us, sometimes ignore us or be distracted on occasion. These experiences happen to all of us and how we handle them is important for our well-being.

It is important to remember that what your partner does isn’t always a direct result of what you have done or not done.

Sometimes they are having trouble at work, with other friends, are tired, run-down, or have their own mental health issues that are getting in the way. Someone with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder will often look around a restaurant, seemingly distracted but, in fact, they are paying attention to you. The key is to reflect on our partner and realize that it may not be about you.

Be direct with your partner

Sometimes it is something that we have done that causes a rift or disappointment. in this case, being direct with your partner is key. Ask them if you did anything that upset them?

Be open to change and be collaborative

No relationship is ever perfect and we all need to be willing to give an olive branch and meet one another halfway.

Finally, if the relationship is ending, the phrase “there are other fish in the sea” really is an important mindset to move past the relationship.

Having a good supportive network is very valuable and will help us stay connected, but also realizing that other people who will find you interesting exist is also key to your self-esteem. So, dating other people can minimize the power that your last relationship may have had on you.

Dr. Patricia Celan

Patricia Celan

Psychiatry Resident, Dalhousie University

Reflect on the experience before expressing yourself to your partner

Expectations in a relationship are not always clear to everyone involved, or they’re not always achievable and realistic. Disappointment is inevitable but not insurmountable.

Oftentimes, a person’s knee-jerk first reaction can be much more emotional and damaging than after taking time to calm down.

Part of calming down should involve reflecting on gratitude; yes, your partner disappointed you in this circumstance, and how many times has your partner impressed you?

Once you are feeling more level-headed and have a balanced perspective, express to your partner that you were disappointed and why. Discuss your expectations, needs, and how you can both compromise for better outcomes in the future.

You will hopefully have both learned a valuable lesson about yourself and your relationship. Turn the disappointment into an opportunity for growth and mutual self-improvement!

Doris Fullgrabe

Doris Fullgrabe

Life Coach, Your Love Profiles | MBTI® Master Practitioner

Feeling disappointed in relationships is practically guaranteed when one party is operating out of BLM Syndrome.

“BLM” stands for Be Like Me. Coined by human and organizational development practitioner, Linda Berens, Ph.D., BLM describes how people project expectations onto others. We want the people around us to act, react, think, speak, and be like us.

And if they don’t, well, they must be mad, bad, weird, or wrong. After all, our way is the best way, otherwise, we wouldn’t be doing it.

BLM Syndrome afflicts all of us at some point, especially when we’re stressed, sick, hangry, or tired. Unfortunately, there is no outright cure for BLM, but with self-awareness, acceptance, and communication, we can reduce the symptoms and frequency of flare-ups.

Know your triggers

You’re probably an otherwise chill person to be around, but some behaviors (even in people you love) just set you off. This can look like asking your partner, “Why don’t you ever leave me little love notes?” or saying things like, “I can’t believe I have to wait for you again.”

Recognizing BLM becomes easier when you know what makes you tick and what ticks you off. Understanding your personality and your partner’s personality type preferences (with a tool like the Myers-Briggs MBTI® questionnaire) can be an effective way to understand how you and your mate are alike and different.

Do a reality check

Before blowing your stack at your partner, take a moment to name all the things they are doing that you like, enjoy, and appreciate. Then take another minute to reflect on how you might be triggering them. Now ask yourself, “Does that usually happen on purpose?”

We come into the world with a predisposition for using our brain a certain way. This shows up in how we behave in any given context.

What we say and how we say it usually comes from a place of wanting our own needs met, not because we want to intentionally create drama or hurt anyone.

Practice compassion

Acknowledging how your projections affect your partner is a helpful step towards accepting your partner as a whole, separate person. You’re in this relationship together. This means accepting that they have their own needs and BLM perspective, too.

Opening a dialog to talk about each others’ triggers is a good starting point.

From there, you can decide on safe words for when either of you is feeling triggered and/or gestures to signal when you’re feeling let down or your expectations are misaligned.

Until people can read each other’s minds, we have to practice verbalizing what is going on inside our heads, to help our partner understand us better.

It can be uncomfortable but, along with self-awareness, communication can help your relationship blossom and thrive — even in the face of disappointment.

Related: How to Get to Know Yourself Better (9 Self-Awareness Questions)

Amir Fathizadeh

Amir Fathizadeh

Speaker | Business Coach, Coaching Collaborative, LLC | Author, Gossip: The Road to Ruin

If you are disappointed in a relationship, don’t go down the rabbit hole, trying to find out the details of your disappointment. You would want to look at 2 things: Can I make this relationship work again? Can I move on?

If the answer to the first one is yes, then you will need to get help with communication skills, because that is probably the source of why you are disappointed.

If you are choosing to move on, then take a long vacation or go away somewhere. Do not get involved with another relationship for at least 6 months to a year.

Let’s open this up. Consider that, what makes a person disappointed is not necessarily what happened, but rather what led to what happened and the interpretation of what happened.

We, as human beings are always looking for evidence to prove something not working in our relationships, especially if we already have communication issues.

We don’t see ourselves responsible to alter the relationship, but rather we seem to look for evidence as to why our relationship is not working.

Therefore, when something happens that disappoints us, we are left devastated, betrayed, abandoned or even a victim. We blame the other person, and more we try to blame or try to find evidence, the more we are going down the rabbit hole.

Recognize your pattern of behavior

ake responsibility for your disappointment no matter whose fault it is. I know sometimes it might be hard to do that, but it is the most powerful way of dealing with it.

Get help to work on your communication skills

It has to start with you and how you are being in a relationship that will impact and create a stronger and unbreakable relationship in the future. If you don’t care and want to continue your life with the same patterns of behavior, then be my guest and continue with how things have been.

Take a break to improve yourself

If after all the considerations, you truly think you need to move on, then take a long break, work on yourself and your communication, and then come back with creating something new.

This can work for the relationship you were in or a new relationship (I highly recommend to take a 6-12 months break before getting involved in a New Relationship).

Relationships are not easy, but what makes them work, is the responsibility of each individual (100% responsibility as there is no such thing as 50/50).

It is you who will be able to create excitement and something new in relationship and practice staying away from blaming and complaining. You will not be disappointed in a relationship again!

Julia Keys

Julia Keys

Author, Manscript | Member, British Association of Counseling and Psychotherapy

Whenever we feel disappointed, it tends to be about someone or something not meeting our expectations. If that someone is your partner then your feelings of being let down are going to be high on your agenda.

You can feel anger, hurt, frustration, humiliation, and other negative emotions that have been triggered through an unmet need.

So, how do you deal with these emotions and what do you do about your partner and your relationship?

Try to gain an accurate perspective of the disappointment

  • Is my disappointment truly valid?
  • Were my expectations realistic?
  • How has my partner disappointed me?
  • Does my partner usually meet my expectations?
  • What does my partner’s lack of understanding mean to me?
  • Has the reason for the disappointment been mentioned before?
  • Have I recently changed the expectations of my partner?
  • Have I recently changed the expectations of our relationship? Have my partner’s expectations changed?
  • Am I needing more from the relationship than usual and if so, have a communicated this to my partner?
  • What do I really want and need from my partner to help heal the uncomfortable feelings? Can I do this myself?

All of these questions help you to focus on your understanding of the situation, your partner, and your feelings and why you feel such disappointment.

If you have been in a long term relationship you probably think you know your partner’s personality and traits really well and if it’s a new relationship it’s all a learning curve.

Talk to your partner and re-evaluate your relationship

Feeling let down and disappointed can give you both a chance to talk and re-evaluate your relationship and what you want from each other.

If one of you wants the relationship to end and the other doesn’t and there is no chance of any reconciliation, then take what you have learned from the current relationship and use it in your next.

If you have the opportunity to talk things through then use the space to discuss each other’s needs and expectations. If you are the one who feels let down start the conversation with “I feel disappointed because…” and not “you made me feel…”

If you go on the attack you may well get a defensive response. You may feel justified in blaming your partner but if you want to negotiate a new viewpoint, you need to take responsibility for your reaction.

There’s a better chance of your partner hearing your words rather than closing down and dismissing how you feel if you approach the conversation from the “I”.

Sometimes, we can frequently feel disappointed because our partner keeps repeating a pattern of behavior. Maybe you have mentioned it several times before but still, nothing changes.

When this happens, it’s you who has to decide to take control of your feelings and decide what you are prepared to accept and not. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does my partner know how to meet my expectations?
  • Is he capable of understanding my feelings?
  • Does he usually show he cares about how I feel?
  • Is it always me who feels let down?
  • Do I make excuses for my partner’s behavior?

It’s so important to see the reality of the situation so asking questions like the above helps you to properly assess what is going on between you.

There will always be a compromise in a relationship, it depends on what you are both prepared to accept and compromise on. It’s a process of give-and-take, an open negotiation between two people who have mutual love and respect for each other.

We may think we know our partner really well but the truth is we can always learn through every disagreement, every misunderstanding, and every disappointment, making the relationship stronger and closer than ever before.

Risa Williams, LMFT

risa williams

Therapist and Life Coach

Build in some self-soothing self-talk and mindfully breathe into your feelings

This can help you navigate those feelings easier. It can be good to bring the focus back to, what would I like going forward? What am I visualizing for myself next?

How can I reset from this disappointment in a way that feels healthy and focus on the things I can control such as my thoughts, the way I talk to myself, the way I soothe myself, the way I treat myself, and set healthy boundaries for myself?

When you bring the focus back to what you want going forward, you can improve the way you feel faster.

Hilary Porta

Hilary Porta

Life Architect & Mindset Ninja

People are disappointed in relationships for so many reasons; misaligned values, unmet expectations, unfulfilled desires… but guess what? You can choose to break free from the disappointment. You are the author of your story.

Examine what your relationship is founded on and where it is headed

If you were motivated to enter into a relationship because of loneliness, you may have settled for less than what you deserved and it’s time to move on. If you truly love your partner, it may be time to have a hard conversation or create clearer boundaries.

Take the insight you’ve gained from introspection and use it to help you define relationship non-negotiables and priorities.

If you’re disappointed in your relationship, you have the choice to either work hard to make it work or let it go to pursue something more beneficial for you and your partner.

Don’t let a disappointing relationship just “happen to you”. You get to sit in the driver’s seat and dictate where the relationship will go.

Dr. Marni Feuerman, LCSW, LMFT

Marni Feuerman

Licensed Psychotherapist | Author, Ghosted and Breadcrumbed

You can have the mindset that helps you see disappointment as a normal part of any relationship. It would be really difficult–if not impossible–to not be disappointed sometimes.

Allow yourself to be curious about the disappointment so that you can respond with intention.

Be curious about yourself, the relationship itself, and your partner. What’s the meaning behind the disappointment? Why is what you are asking for important to you?

Is the issue important enough to fight about or let go? Are your expectations too high? Is there another appropriate way to get this need met? Did you communicate your desires clearly?

For major disappointments, you may have a grieving process to go through. You’re mourning an outcome that didn’t happen or a dream that won’t be fulfilled.

Kemi Sogunle

Kemi Sogunle

Life Coach | Relationship Expert | Author, Love, Sex, Lies and Reality

Disappointment in a relationship can take an emotional toll on anyone. However, understanding how disappointments happen can help shed light and gain an understanding of how to prevent it from re-occurring in the future.

Disappointments often stem up from unrealistic expectations or needs that are yet to be met in a person’s life. You hope that your partner will be able to meet those needs that you are yet to address.

When disappointments happen, do not focus on what you have lost but realize you are gaining conscious awareness of parts of you that you are yet to connect with and know.

  • Document the lessons learned from the relationship.
  • Evaluate the lessons to uncover what you learned about yourself.
  • What did the relationship teach you about what you tolerated and what you will not tolerate going forward?
  • What roles did you and your partner play in the relationship that led to the disappointments?

Asking yourself these questions will help you gain a conscious awareness about yourself, set healthy boundaries going forward, define your own requirements and relationship goals and work on healing and forgiving yourself before venturing into another relationship.

Terrie L.Vanover

Terrie Vanover

Couples Strategist, Choosing to Rise, LLC

An individual in a partnership must take accountability for their own thoughts and feelings.

They must understand that anger and disappointment are the results of an unmet need or an unfulfilled expectation.They need to ask themselves several questions when they are feeling disappointed by their partner.

  • In what ways am I not getting my needs met or what expectations do I need to revisit?
  • In what ways do I need to examine my needs and expectations and how can I get my needs met or do I need to adjust my expectations?

Once the individual has done some reflection, he or she can communicate those needs and expectations to their partner and evaluate how to work together to meet the expectations.

Tzlil Hertzberg

Tzlil Hertzberg

Licensed Mental Health Counselor, My Therapist New York

Disappointment happens in relationships all the time. It’s the feeling of expecting a certain behavior or experience and having that fall short. This definition is key to figuring out how to deal with disappointment.

Realize that you can’t control other people

Many times, we blame others and the world around us when we are disappointed. The confounding part is that the expectation is put on the other, not the self. That leaves you with wanting/expecting the other person to do and be something else. That is an impossible state to be in because, in the end, we can’t control other people.

We can control our own parameters of what we deem disappointing. We can adjust our expectations of others while still acknowledging all the feelings.

It’s not about convincing ourselves to feel differently about something that is clearly disappointing or frustrating. It’s about feeling all of that and also realizing where our expectations are being unrealistic.

Recognizing this reality is very helpful in dealing with disappointment in relationships. It gives us the space to manage ourselves and develop resilience for when we don’t get what we were hoping for.

Paige Arnof-Fenn

Paige Arnof-Fenn

Founder and CEO, Mavens & Moguls

Identify how critical the disappointment is

It depends on whether it is something big or small, personal or professional, temporary or permanent, a luxury or an essential.

Is it something I will even care about or remember in a week/month/year? At one end of the spectrum, it is a professional contact who promised to get back to you by the end of the week and either never did or it was done so poorly it left a horrible impression. You can just forgive, forget, and move on in that case.

At the other extreme, it could be a family member who breaks your trust or does something so hurtful that the relationship is permanently severed. Only you can decide what to do and where on that scale to land.

In my experience, if it is someone you care about deeply who brings joy and happiness to your life you’ll find a way to work through the disappointment.

Frequently Asked Questions

When should I seek professional help to deal with disappointment in a relationship?

It’s important to seek professional help if your efforts to address disappointment in your relationship are not yielding positive results or if the disappointment is causing significant emotional distress for one or both partners.

Professional help, such as couples therapy or individual counseling, can provide valuable guidance and support in dealing with complex relationship issues.

A trained therapist can help you identify the root causes of disappointment, develop effective communication strategies, and provide tools for a healthier and more satisfying relationship. Remember, seeking professional help is a sign of strength and commitment to improving your relationship, not failure.

How can setting boundaries help prevent disappointment in a relationship?

Setting boundaries is essential to a healthy relationship because it helps set clear expectations and avoid disappointment.

Boundaries set the limits of acceptable behavior and make both partners feel respected and valued. Being open about your needs, wants, and limitations can prevent misunderstandings and unmet expectations that can lead to disappointment.

To set effective boundaries, start by having open and honest conversations with your partner about your needs, preferences, and values. Be clear about what you are comfortable with and what you consider unacceptable.

It’s essential to be flexible and willing to negotiate, as your partner may have different expectations or requirements. Revisit these boundaries periodically, as they may change over time as the relationship evolves.

What can I do if my partner consistently disappoints me or doesn’t care about my feelings?

If you find that your partner is consistently disappointing you or doesn’t seem to care about your feelings, it’s important to take a step back and evaluate the relationship. Consider whether your partner’s actions align with your values and long-term goals.

If you believe the relationship is worth saving, seek professional help, such as couples counseling, to resolve your issues together. Remember that you deserve to be in a relationship where both partners are committed to meeting each other’s needs and promoting emotional well-being.

How can self-reflection help me deal with disappointment in my relationship?

Self-reflection is a valuable tool for dealing with disappointment in a relationship because it allows you to better understand your feelings, needs, and expectations.

Through self-reflection, you can gain insight into your own reactions and behaviors, which can help you identify areas for personal growth and improvement. In addition, self-reflection can help you better empathize with your partner’s perspective, which allows for more effective communication and problem-solving.

How can I determine if my disappointment in my relationship is based on unrealistic expectations?

To determine if your disappointment is based on unrealistic expectations, you need self-reflection and honest evaluation of your desires and beliefs about relationships. Consider whether your expectations are based on reality or influenced by external factors such as societal norms, cultural beliefs, or media portrayals of relationships.

Ask yourself if you expect your partner to meet all of your emotional needs or if you’re putting undue pressure on the relationship. By examining the sources of your expectations and assessing their feasibility, you can determine if your disappointment is due to unrealistic expectations and work to adjust them accordingly.

How can I distinguish between healthy disappointment and toxic patterns in my relationship?

To distinguish between healthy disappointment and toxic patterns, you need to assess the frequency, intensity, and impact of disappointments on your relationship. Healthy disappointments are a normal part of any relationship and can be overcome through open communication, understanding, and growth.

In contrast, toxic patterns are frequent, intense disappointments that may be due to manipulation, control, or lack of empathy. If disappointments repeatedly cause emotional turmoil, negatively impact your self-esteem, or hinder your personal growth, it may be time to re-evaluate your relationship and seek professional guidance if needed.

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