How You Can Cope With Disappointment. (In Life and In Relationships) Written by Dr Linda Berman.



“Disappointment is the nurse of wisdom.”

Sir Boyle Roche

“If we will be quiet and ready enough, we shall find compensation in every disappointment.”– Henry David Thoreau

The Disappointments of Life.

is it possible  that we an actually gain from our disappointments?

This might sound an odd question, but think about it. The above quotations would suggest that both wisdom and compensation may ultimately emerge from such an experience.

Initially, of course, it is painful and disheartening to have our hopes and expectations dashed. We might find that, for some time, it is hard to let go of feelings of distress, disillusionment, despondency.

We will most likely feel, depending on the depth of disappointment, a mix of frustration, anger, sadness. Sometimes it feels as though the disappointment may never go away. We may feel depressed and alone with our feelings.


Edward Hopper – Automat [1927] Image: Gandalf’s Gallery Flickr

However, if we re-read Thoreau’s quote, above, what he says is ‘If we will be quiet and ready enough……’

What might he mean?

The answer to this question may be found in Bridges’ words, below, which at first may seem like a kind of riddle.

“Disenchantment, whether it is a minor disappointment or a major shock, is the signal that things are moving into transition in our lives.”

― William Throsby Bridges

What is implied by the word ‘transition‘?

‘Disenchantment,’ Bridges implies, can lead us into a period of change. It can be a kind of catalyst, precipitating a move towards more self-understanding and personal growth.

It is as if he is saying that there can be life after disappointment; good can emerge from what may have felt bad.

How can this be?

Instead of giving up when we feel disappointed, perhaps there might be something potentially strengthening in such an experience. It may be that there could be valuable learning in terms of having over-high expectations.

When we have some distance from the occurrence and have reached a stage where we are strong enough, we might be able to gain some kind of objective view of ourselves and our situation.

Then we may be able to consider our own behaviour as partly responsible for what has occurred. (Of course, this might not always be the case. But it is worth considering.)

Realistically, could it be that we have hoped for too much?

“Disappointment is the gap that exists between expectation and reality.”

“Expectation is the root of all heartache.” Shakespeare

“Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.”

Alexander Pope

Having high expectations is far from unusual, but it does lead to let- downs, hurt feelings and disappointments. It might also mean that we cannot enjoy and appreciate what we do have, so preoccupied are we with wanting something more or different.

Disappointment in Marriage and Relationships.

How do high expectations affect relationships? If we expect too much of our partner, as we inevitably do, especially at the start of a relationship, that partner will inevitably fall short.

I believe that, in every relationship, at some point there is disappointment to contend with.

Many enter a relationship or marriage with elaborate fantasies that have developed from life experience, literature, the media and from other people.

Romantic notions and preconceptions of how loving relationships ‘should’ be crowd our consciousness.


Hearts and flowers are all very well, but real, everyday life is often less romantic and more variable and inconsistent. There are, or course, highs and lows and shades of grey.

Happiness is not a constant feeling, yet some expect relationships to be a permanent rose garden. A bed of roses.


Sometimes life with your partner might seem full of romantic promise; at others there may be feelings of dislike or hatred between you. More thorns than roses…….

If there are high expectations of perfection, there are likely to be considerable difficulties. Expecting the other to be perfect usually involves criticism, contempt and accusations of not being good enough.


However, there needs to be awareness of the fact that even though roses have thorns, and people have imperfections, these do not usually detract from their overall beauty.

We just need to be careful of the thorns and to be aware that nothing is flawless. (In any case, the thorns do have a purpose for the rose.)

“You’re not looking for perfection in your partner. Perfection is all about the ego. With soulmate love, you know that true love is what happens when disappointment sets in – and you’re willing to deal maturely with these disappointments.”

Karen Salmansohn

Instead of being critical and disapproving, can we learn to be grateful for and to the other person in a relationship, despite the ‘thorns’?

“When we focus on our gratitude, the tide of disappointment goes out and the tide of love rushes in.”

Kristin Armstrong

If we allow ourselves to feel grateful, it may be that the positive aspects of our partner will crowd out the negatives, bringing increased joy to both.

“Expectation has brought me disappointment. Disappointment has brought me wisdom. Acceptance, gratitude and appreciation have brought me joy and fulfilment.”

Rasheed Ogunlaru


“Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.”
Marcus Aurelius
In next week’s post, I will write about Gratitude.
In two weeks’ time, Part 2 of this Disappointment post will be published, looking at disappointment in psychotherapy.
Thank you for visiting 🙏


    • Thanks so much for the comment, Ben. Also for the book recommendation. I shall take a look, it sounds interesting. 🙏


  1. Perfection is about the ego….so true and an overriding need for those with lack of self worth/esteem. Such a good post… you write beautifully with so much wisdom and compassion.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for your lovely, encouraging comment Helen. Much appreciated. Glad you found the post interesting. 🙏🌹


  2. Perfection is about the ego….so true and an overriding need for those with lack of self worth/esteem. Such a good post… you write beautifully with so much wisdom and compassion.


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