Disappointment is a thing.  It happens.  It’s normal and part of living.  We wanted an event or a thing to meet our expectations.  We needed the party to be fun, we need our new car to actually work, we were expecting that new gadget we bought to work with all our other gadgets, we really wanted the new Fantastic Four to be good….you get the idea.  When they aren’t, when they don’t, we’re disappointed. We’re probably many other things as well, but the underlying issue is disappointed.  Which leads to the inevitable “What now?”  I was asking myself this just the other day because a thing I bought from Amazon came in a condition that was suboptimal.  I could get it to work so do I contact them and go through the process of getting a new one or getting a refund or do I not bother and just go with it.  Which for me is just a time/energy equation.  I don’t care enough to be angstful about this small cheap thing so is it worth my time to engage one way or the other?  “What now?”

It’s easy when we don’t really care or when the value of the thing is low.  A couple of bucks equals “Meh” on the disappointment meter.  When we really care or the cost is high, that’s when things get interesting.  For some, really caring about something motivates them to act to correct a disappointing outcome.  They take a faulty car back, evaluate what they didn’t enjoy about the party in order to avoid that situation in the future, take the gadget back and find another solution, etc. (There’s nothing to do about Fantastic Four. *sigh*) In these cases the disappointment spurs action which can actually improve things.  It allows the person to convert the situation into a net positive, or at least try, and to keep moving forward.  For others, really caring about something or that thing having a high cost creates what I liken to bidding mania.  It’s what happens to people when they have been bidding in an auction, online or in real life, and go way beyond their top price or even they resources, not because they really want to have it, but because a frenzy has taken them over.  They feel they have invested so much of themselves in the process that they have to have the item and no one else can have it.  They are devastated if they lose, even though winning would have had negative consequences or they win and then Doh!

Many people get this way in relationships.  They think they are getting what they want and then are disappointed that it isn’t what they thought.  But instead of acting to make positive changes to correct a disappointing outcome like ending a negative relationship or working through significant issues in counseling, or even having direct conversations that set appropriate boundaries, they get into a bidding frenzy.  They feel they have too much invested to let go, they do everything they can to “win” the situation, investing way more than they can afford in order to achieve the desired result, pushing to make things go their way.  Whether they win or not, in the end they have converted disappointment into a tangled mess and are left with wreckage on top of the fact that they still don’t have what they want the way they want it.  And like all bidders at the end of the frenzy, they eventually come to their senses wondering what the heck happened.  If a relationship feels like a ton of work and it’s keeping you constantly off balance and seems forever just on the brink of settling into a good and healthy place, it’s time to check in and see if what’s keeping it going is bidding frenzy.