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Dealing with Disappointment

Dealing with Disappointment

Rising out of the depths

That special day that you were so looking forward to—be it a birthday, Valentine’s Day, or anniversary—has come and gone. In its wake, you’re left feeling unsettled; some of you may even be feeling rather let down. Maybe you acted like a “fool in love” and your partner did not respond in kind, or maybe you were expecting a special something that would reassure you of your partner’s love and it was not forthcoming. It’s not uncommon at times like these to feel you’re sinking further into the murky waters of disappointment and disillusionment on your way to depression.

At times like this it’s important to know that this state of mind is not permanent. Did you know that when a dolphin receives a blow that knocks it out, the dolphin will lose its ability to breathe and will begin to sink to its death? The only way a drowning dolphin can survive is if another dolphin comes to its rescue and lifts it to the surface where it can once again get air to breathe. Dolphins are about connection, community, and survival. Think of our Mars Venus community and Ask Mars Venus coaches as dolphins here to lift your spirits, help you breathe deeply, and enable you to make peace with your disappointment.

From Drowning to Floating

The prefix “dis” is defined as: “to exclude, repel, or the absence of.” Disappointment is a disconnect. If your expectations were not met, you’re likely feeling an uncomfortable separation from your special someone. But, in reality, connect and disconnect go together like Martians and Venusians, yin and yang, joy and sorrow. They represent the balance of life. You can’t have one without the other. However, keeping the two in balance can be quite a challenge.

Unhealthy expectations can give rise to disappointment. When we think that our date or partner should act a certain way and they don’t, we can easily become upset. Take a look at the following situation.

Tom and Sally had been dating for only a few weeks when Valentine’s Day arrived. Tom really liked Sally so he decided to ask her out to dinner to celebrate the holiday. Sally had her hair done, a manicure, a spa treatment, and had even purchased a new outfit for the occasion. She was so excited! Tom hadn’t told her where they were going and this just added an edge of anticipation and excitement to fuel her imagination of this lovely romantic dinner that surely waited.

But the reality of the date was not quite as impressive as Sally had imagined it would be. Shocked and profoundly disappointed, Sally at first had to force a smile as she and Tom sat in a restaurant that was barely one step above fast food. There were no candles, no music, no atmosphere, and, well, you get the picture. For a second, Sally even considered telling Tom how insulted she was and leaving. But Tom looked so haggard and tired, Sally’s heart softened and she began to ask him about his day. At first, he was reluctant to talk, but her loving, accepting smile helped him to open up.

Before long they were both in stitches, managing to make light of a day that was a like a Laurel and Hardy comedy of errors. The more they talked, the more they laughed, and the more they bonded.

In this situation, Sally was able to look at the date from Tom’s point of view. And that enabled her to change her frame of mind and realize that he had done the best he could considering the stress and circumstances he was currently under. She was able to see the value of just being together and realized that her expectations were something she herself had created, and not something that Tom had promised. After all, if she had wanted the big, romantic dinner, Sally could have told Tom that was indeed what she would have liked him to plan—not quite as romantic, but if being assured of a certain outcome is the most important thing to you, expressing your thoughts is key. Otherwise, if you can remember that disappointment and joy are different sides of the same coin, sometimes all that’s required is a flip of the coin to change an initially disappointing situation into a happy one.

Looking Even Deeper

So Sally and Tom’s date turned out to be great. Sally appreciated Tom for his efforts, which fulfilled one of his primary needs and raised his testosterone levels, therefore lowering his stress. That definitely contributed to salvaging their evening. But what do you do when it seems nearly impossible to flip to the other side of the coin? What if you’ve finally decided to tell the new person you’re dating, “I love you”? And what if they don’t say it back? That kind of disappointment can make it hard to turn yourself around and see the humor in the situation—most people would say that there isn’t any humor to be found at all in that kind of situation.

When there isn’t humor, however, there is always perspective. You don’t have to let those “three little words,” or any other disappointing moment, wreak havoc in your world. When you’ve been disappointed, that’s a good time to take a deeper look at other aspects that could have contributed to your feelings. Your disappointment could stem from one or more of those very important primary needs that have gone unmet—caring, understanding, and respect for Venusians; trust, acceptance, and appreciation for Martians. Any of these needs could take a hit when the first “I love you” isn’t immediately reciprocated, or when you receive a gift that you feel holds no heart. Situations like these could definitely have you questioning how much your partner cares for you.

When primary needs are out of balance, it’s time to really focus on your communication, identify where you could do a better job of giving your partner what they need, and learn to ask for what you need in a positive and loving way. After some consideration, you may discover that your primary needs are dancing along quite smoothly, and the problem is more physiological or hormonal. Stress can send a Martian into his Cave and send a Venusian’s Wave crashing to the ocean’s bottom, what we call the Well. Stress will also interfere with your hormones, causing your thinking to be more than a bit off. Women who aren’t getting enough oxytocin and men who aren’t getting enough testosterone will have increased stress levels—and this can cause us to disappoint our partner without even realizing it.

Seven Steps to Rise out of Disappointment

  1. Remember that disappointment is a natural part of life.
  2. Remember that the other side of disappointment is joy.
  3. Look for another, more-positive way to think about what has happened.
  4. Shift your perspective. Maybe you’re under stress or in the Cave or the Well.
  5. Determine if there are Primary Needs that require attention.
  6. Ask lovingly for what you need.
  7. Consider hormones like oxytocin and testosterone. They may need some balancing.

Disappointment isn’t always easy to overcome. If your heart is heavy and you need a helping hand to get back up to the surface where you can breathe more freely, there is an Ask Mars Venus coach ready with wisdom to share. As soon as your call for help goes out, a coach will be by your side to assist you up and out of the dark waters and into the light, fresh air of love.

Do you have questions about this article? Do you need help understanding how this information can change your life? Talk to one of our expertly trained telephone coaches today and get the answers you are looking for. You can call from the privacy of any phone, and our operators are available to assist you with processing your call.

Call 1-888-627-7836 for details and a personal message from Dr. John Gray.


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