Do you feel like your husband doesn’t understand you or do what you need? Do you feel disappointed or deeply hurt? Most people have needs and wants of their loved ones. When these needs are unmet, the pain can build and lead to resentment and huge fights or drastic disconnect. Do you ever lash out or stuff your hurt feelings?
What do you think about the following scenario?
Alice: “Your mom was totally wrong for saying ‘x,y,z’ you should’ve said something to her or protected me!”
Tom: “I didn’t hear her say that…what do you mean?”
Alice’s expectations of Tom are unrealistic. Alice’s projection of what Tom should do is counter productive to building healthy intimacy. Relationships are full of projections and unrealistic expectations. Unrealistic expectations are unspoken or unfulfilled personal desires and beliefs. Projection is what is spoken in defensiveness to someone outside of yourself. Where does this projection occur? It can occur between parent and child, husband and wife, boyfriend and girlfriend, siblings, co-workers, etc. Anywhere you are accountable to someone, you can experience the projection of someone else’s needs. If those needs are unrealistic or impossible, the pressure and strain of being unable to make those expectations real has negative affects. How do unfulfilled needs become projections? They are nurtured deep within the mind, surrounded by strong defense mechanisms that were created in childhood and adulthood to deflect and manage the pain that occurs when these needs are not met. Projections are a part of the defense mechanisms.
Wanting perfection from someone or not being able to tolerate mistakes
Saying things like, “If you just did or said (fill in the blank) then I would be okay, happy, good, etc.”
Hiding your real feelings, but expecting others to know what you need
Losing your cool or your temper over daily life struggles
Criticizing or holding other people responsible for your failures/mistakes
Shaming others for their mistakes/failures
Being unable to address conflict directly
It is in Alice’s best interest to be in touch with what hurts, so she can speak to Tom about what is going on inside of her rather than project her needs onto Tom. If you find yourself unable to have your needs/expectations met, the projecting is probably not working. Here are some examples of the true need beneath many expectations. Alice needs to learn what her projection is about and what deeper need she would like to see fulfilled.
Expectation True Needs:
- Unconditional Love/Support
- Being Heard
- Being Understood
Alice’s best bet is to become aware of her own needs. Then begin to understand that Tom cannot make her feel/believe in herself. This she must do for herself.
She also needs to not hide from her truth. Her vulnerability and courage to know herself will help her and her husband in the long run. There is a root to all expectations. An unhealthy projection can quickly squash any hope for an expectation to be met. One of the greatest poisons of any relationship is the belief that one is entitled to unrealistic expectations and defensive projections. This adds negativity to an already stressed relationship.