The Things Out of Our Control

beyondcontrolI may be stating the obvious by saying that Disney and the world of fiction in general set unrealistic expectations towards our love lives and our partners. Such expectations mean disappointment and pain. You can keep fighting with how life/people/guys are but it won’t change the reality and will just exhaust you. Working on oneself is a must but it has to do with the things in our control. Some, however, are out of it. Therefore, a good attitude towards life is the acceptance of such limitations, even if we don’t like them.

Firstly, we all have our natural tendencies we should be aware of. I often stress the importance of work on oneself but accepting what we cannot change is as important as working on our weaknesses and strengths. That also means that there are limits as to what we can do to change ourselves. We’re not born a white sheet of paper, as it was claimed once upon a time. Our genes that influence certain traits and so does our environment. The scientists have been fighting about what’s more important since forever but these days they seem to lean towards the idea that the division of importance between the two in the formation of human beings is fifty fifty. This means that we can only do so much with what we were given.

In our love lives we should grow awareness of the limitations of ourselves and of our partners. This doesn’t mean to settle! Certain things are non-negotiable. Respect, love or the fact that we can depend on each other, for instance. There are also treats that we truly want in a partner and we should keep looking till we find someone endowed with them. At the same time, we shouldn’t be expecting Mr Universe if we don’t look like Wonder Woman, to take the most superficial example. We should only want what we represent ourselves. If what we can get doesn’t satisfy us we have only three reasonable actions to take 1) better ourselves, 2) accept something as it’s beyond our control, 3)give up in self-improvement and lower our expectations .

The truth is there are some things we just cannot change. Other things cannot be repaired or improved beyond certain levels. If we missed out on some crucial things in our childhood, as adults we may do our best to work on our self-esteem, self-love and the like. At the same time we must remember we started our existence at level 1, while others commenced at level 100. This means we will most probably never catch up with them. It’s a similar situation like with “from rags to riches” success stories. They’re very very very rare. Most poor people end up having poor children. A realistic success is when each generation does a little bit better than the previous one. Don’t fool yourself with hopes of becoming a completely different person. All you can do is the best version of yourself with what you’ve been given.

This inevitably means our partners will have vices and most probably these vices will be the traits we saw and disliked in our parents. I don’t think one can erase certain tendencies. If your father was absent you most probably will end up with some sort of absent partner. What we can work on, is the degree to which it will be true. If your father was never there, perhaps with enough self-work you can end up with a partner who’s mostly around but you’re rather unlikely to fill the gap completely. If you hated how your mom did all the housework you may choose someone who wants to help at home but because you yourself keep doing everything, he’ll eventually settle for this model too. As long as we’re doing our best, we shouldn’t beat ourselves up about it. We should also appreciate what we have, instead of focusing what we don’t and possibly can’t have.

When we manage to be more healthy and set our deal breakers reasonably, we have a good chance of finding someone with whom we’re happy. This is what we can influence. At the same time, no matter how well we do certain things are just beyond our control, like the fact that our partners will have their bad sides. If we enter the relationship happily and consciously, we should always remember that there’s nothing in the world that’s flawless. That means that we should accept the good in our partner as well as the bad. We cannot control the latter but we can control our reactions to it. We can also come up with remedies to some behaviors. For instance if your partner is constantly late (like your dad used to be or whatever) you can get upset about it and feel that your partner doesn’t love you enough. Or you can be a big girl, realize this is how he is, that it has nothing to do with you and always give him the time of the events that’s half  an hour early.

There are things in our control and those outside of it. We should be aware of it and stop fighting the fights that are pointless. When you can’t change something accept it and then you can choose your course of the action, including your own reaction and reading of certain behaviors.

What do you think, Dear Rinsers? Is managing our expectations a big part of happiness? Do you believe we can change entirely?



    • I think I was thinking the issue through as I was writing it ;). In short, we can do our best to better ourselves but we can only do so much. Then we’re left with acceptance that we are who we are, we’re not perfect and neither are our partners and that’s okay as long as we’re trying to be the best versions of ourselves and they do the same. What isn’t okay is to keep striving for things which we can’t have because of our make-up and remain unhappy because of it. Jip, this sums it up 😉


  1. Nice post. I’m a little bit conflicted about the issue though.

    I think while we can accept certain flaws in our partner, I think there also needs to be a degree of willingness to change and meet a person half way.

    For instance, the ‘lateness’ issue you mentioned above. Sure, you can just set the times half an hour earlier to accommodate a persons tardiness but why should you? Poor time-management is generally regarded as unfavorable characteristic. Making allowances isn’t really helping them. Chances are (unless they truly couldn’t care less about you) they are not only late for meetings with you, they are also late for other things. Perhaps, one day they’ll end up late for a super important meeting that could land them that dream job they wanted. Are you truly doing them any favours by just accepting the flaw? Just saying. This is a touchy subject, anyway! :- P

    But like you said, there are behaviours that can be changed (like the above) and things that can’t be changed (e.g. they have an annoying family or some genetic malfunction). I guess we need to pick our battles as well.

    I think it is also seeing the effort that is also important. Maybe your a couch potato and find yourself falling for a iron man…sure, he’d like you to run marathons with him but seeing you giving up some of the treats and crawling your way through a 5k park run in order to get some insight into what makes your partner tick, should at least be somewhat endearing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The lateness issue is just an example. Sure, you don’t have to accept it or make the person’s life easier but with certain traits people seem almost to be hard wired. Probably the best thing is to have boundaries – let it go and accommodate when it doesn’t matter but remain strict when it does and make your desires very clear. At the end of the day once you’re in a relationship with someone and they have a flaw that seems unlikely to change, by getting bend out of shape you’re just harming yourself. Besides, they surely did this thing since the beginning, so why didn’t you react earlier when you had better chances of establishing your boundaries (or dismissing someone on the basis of such a flaw and moving on). As you say, it’s about meeting your partner halfway. They can change a bit in their ways and you can change your reactions and somewhere there you reached a compromise between indulgence and reason.

      As for the last thing you said, I’d reply that you shouldn’t go for a marathon runner as a couch potato and the other way round. I wouldn’t say definitely go for another marathon runner but perhaps for someone who enjoys exercise and can understand your passions better. The easier the relationship in terms of having things in common, the less work and frustration there is and also the easier it is to accept the smaller flaws.


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