What To Say To Someone Who Always Disappoints You

This is one of those posts where I take a search term from my blog’s stats and then write a bunch of stuff about it.

This particular search term – What to say to someone who always disappoints you – stood out because I’m one of those someone’s who always succeeds in disappointing people.

How do I know that I always disappoint people?

Because disappointed people usually have no problem at all in communicating their disappointment.

So, it puzzles me a little that someone is searching online to find out what to say to someone who always disappoints them.

I would hazard a guess that the someone who is always disappointing that seeker of what to say already knows they’re a constant disappointment to them.

“We are like sculptors, constantly carving out of others the image we long for, need, love or desire, often against reality, against their benefit, and always, in the end, a disappointment, because it does not fit them.”

― Anais Nin

I was at a dinner party the other evening. It was a lovely meal in good company, everyone was in high spirits, laughing, sharing news, life stories, pictures on their phones, but towards the end of the get together cracks in the bonds began to show.

People were tired from the effort of socialising, everyone had drunk and eaten a little bit more than they intended, and it was nearing the time to go home.

And those little gremlins, those beefs and griefs which we all tend to have with others no matter how much we love and care about them, made their way out of the cracks to have a bit of a party of their own.

One person suddenly said to another in mid conversation: “I know I’ll never be able to schedule my life as efficiently as you do.

It was not a compliment. It was a response to something the other person had said which had been perceived as a criticism, a poke, prod, dig at an old wound.

There was an ever so slight pause filled with tension building…

Was there going to be a polite fight.

That old wound wanted to be healed but it invariably chose to attempt its healing by stirring up an argument, and that never works, does it.

The one to whom those words were directed, remained as oblivious as they were when they’d said what had provoked the reaction. You could see it in their expression, the stubborn determination to see themselves as one who had said no wrong.

They were so dedicated to only seeing themselves as the good one and to not see things from the other person’s perspective that they actually decided to launch into a nostalgic story about just how inefficient the person was with their life scheduling.

“No evil dooms us hopelessly except the evil we love, and desire to continue in, and make no effort to escape from.”

― George Eliot, Daniel Deronda

Luckily the whole table was interrupted by the arrival of coffee and cake, and so that dinner party could go down in memory as a wonderful gathering of happy souls.

But that issue between those two is still there waiting for a healing resolution. It’s been around for decades, and has suffered many disappointments in its desire for them to figure out why it exists, what purpose it serves, and how to happy ending it once and for all.

While I don’t know all the finer personal details of it… I don’t really need to to recognise the story. It’s one of those which gets passed along from human to human, and rears its head in all human interactions.

Someone somewhere expected something from us because someone somewhere in their life before us expected something from them, and we disappointed them because they disappointed those in their before us, and we expected something from someone after them because of what came before, and they disappointed us.

“A life that is burdened with expectations is a heavy life. Its fruit is sorrow and disappointment.”

― Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul

There is a certain need within all of us to do to others what was done to us, perhaps to learn that side of the relationship equation.

Sometimes we think that’s where the power resides – on the side we weren’t on before.

When we’re the one who has disappointed someone else we feel so powerless… they have all the power. Expectations are powerful. If we collect expectations then we will be collecting power. The more expectations we have, the more powerful we become.

The more others disappoint us, the more power… wait a minute, why isn’t it working, the math doesn’t add up.

When I was the one who disappointed, I felt powerless – the one I’d disappointed had all the power. Therefore when I am the one who is disappointed in someone else, I should feel powerful… so why do I feel powerless?

“Our disappointment sits between us.”

― Charles Bukowski, The Roominghouse Madrigals: Early Selected Poems, 1946-1966

It’s exhausting, tiresome, deflating, depressing, burdensome, and unsatisfying whichever side of the equation you are on.

The more expectations you collect and have, the more powerless you become, others have all the power to disappoint you… and your disappointment in them feels like it hurts you more than it hurts them.

It doesn’t seem to motivate them to not disappoint you. It’s almost as though they’re actually going out of their way to disappoint you, giving your expectations the finger.

And yet their disappointment in you, it hurt you, it motivated you not to disappoint them. You tried harder to please, to be perfect, to live up to their ideals, to deliver, to meet their expectations and… what happened?

Or was it that with each expectation you met, they met that with more expectations. They’d finally found their beast of burden… or their prince… were they testing you to see if you’d turn back into a frog because they’d been disappointed too many times before by people meeting their expectations and then not doing that forever?

“Inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist.”

― George Carlin

The longer it went on, the more you expected of yourself… and the more you kept being a disappointment to yourself.

The more you expected of yourself… the more you expected from others. And the disappointment points increased.

So how do you solve the problem.

Do you expect nothing?

But isn’t that expectation of nothing based on an expectation of disappointment?

And besides, you don’t like that feeling, the one which rises up inside like indigestion, when you’re in the company of someone who expects nothing of you because they expect to be disappointed. What’s the point in doing anything with them, for them, or…

What’s the point in being part of their life and in having them in your life since they’ve already decided you’re useless and pointless?


That’s it from me… over to you!

Featured image is In Case of Disappointment a comic song by George F. McCann


  1. I had a big comment typed out but somehow deleted it. Now I’m too tired to recreate it. The long and short of it was that I tend not to be a part of someone’s life who thinks I’m nothing but a disappointment, and I tend not to keep people around me who do nothing but disappoint me. I mean, there are qualities about me that will annoy just about everyone I meet — and they differ depending on the person — but they’re not the be all and end all of who and what I am. Same with everyone I meet. However! If I am nothing but a disappointment to someone, well I’m not gonna sully their doorstep with my presence. Because I just don’t have the time or patience for that nonsense.


    • Thank you for sharing, Willow 🙂

      That sounds like a logical approach. There just doesn’t seem to be any point in continuing the relationship if every interaction ends with disappointment, and if someone is determined to always be disappointed. It’s a bit like watching a film you don’t like over and over, hoping that you’re going to like it.

      I think all of us have traits and behaviours which irritate. Sometimes the things about us which irritate others also irritate us about ourselves. But then there are those wonderful moments when someone loves the very thing which irritates you and/or others about yourself, and you get a new perspective on it. Usually irritating qualities are a part of skills – for instance people who notice every fault and flaw are often really skilled at detailed work, and may be excellent problem solvers, of course they’re also prone to cause problems when their ability runs amok and they use it on everyone and everything.


  2. I guess the problem is they´re humans and therefore difficult.
    I had a friend once over time our relationship went sour and slowly it just faded away, the last thing i heard from him was how stupid and pathetic i was, i never confronted him i just forgot to call.

    I often think about a particular scene from Disneys Cinderella when her dress was torn by her stepsisters and she dreams away about how stupid and boring the ball is and how wonderful it must be.

    I guess somewhere there is a hurt person that wants to be recognized, it´s just a bit difficult to say.


    • Thank you for sharing, Thomas 🙂

      That’s a great observation. I agree, it is most likely about recognition of hurt and how difficult it is to express the hurt within.

      Human relationships are so complex because each human is complex. In many ways it’s through relationships with others that we figure out who we are and our own relationship with ourselves. So often what we see in others is a reflection of ourselves. When we see beauty, it reflects our own beauty. When we love others we love ourselves more. When we see ugliness, it reflects the disowned and misunderstood parts, perhaps they’re the parts of us which others rejected so we reject them too. When we hate others, who are we really hating?

      Sometimes it’s straightforward, someone was mean to us and therefore we react by not liking that, and them for that. But it can go on to be more complicated when we’re mean to someone else and expect them to still like us.

      I tend to do what you did with your friend when someone has made a decision of that sort about me. If they think you’re stupid and pathetic, there really isn’t any point in confronting them. It’s kind of best to forget about it and move on. You go your way and they go theirs.


      • That´s my point just like a narcissist discards people that have disappointed them. Normal people can also do that, i guess it´s a hurt ego .
        The ironic part is that most people are not out to hurt other people for fun. I have only met two people that seemed to enjoy hurting other people for fun.

        I once padded a female friend on the shoulder. I never meant anything with it i just did it. I knew she already had a partner and they had bought a house together, they were almost ready to get married. To me she was already taken.
        For three weeks after i padded her on that shoulder she ran around and was super nice towards me, more than usual almost ecstatic, but then she flipped like a coin, now i was completely useless and worthless. I was not serious enough about my work, i ate too much and was too fat. I got the silent treatment for the next three months till we separated ways for different reasons, but she still keeps an eye out for me, as she stalks me on Linkedin…

        The most ironic part is that i actually liked her quite a lot. We talked together almost every day, till she went sour and i was rather sad for loosing what i thought was a good friend.

        In my world it is something that a small 2 minute conversation could have overcome.
        Her behavior with the silent treatment and calling me names and degrading me on the other hand is another story…


        • She definitely overreacted, and was in full narcissist mode. A small 2 minute conversation which would have cleared matters up would have ruined a long dramatic life story in which she was the star. You were allowed to be the hero to her heroine for a while, but then you took up too much room in her story, your role looked to her as though it was better than her starring role, so you had to get demoted, become a villain, etc.

          She’s the colleague you mentioned when you first commented on my blog in 2016, right?

          The important part is that you see things clearly. Sometimes those who confuse everything and everyone, indirectly help us to understand ourselves and others better, and give us the incentive to keep things clear and simple if we can.


          • Nope they are not the same. I was just confused how could someone i had been talking to almost every day for over a year all of a sudden just flip the switch like that?

            The reason i have been so hesitant to label someone a narcissist is because of that other one.

            I still remember when my colleague stared at me with that dead face and those black eyes of hers and i seriously was thinking that if her skull had cracked open and the monster from the Alien movie had jumped out i would not even have been surprised.
            I was completely creeped out, she can´t be human.
            I would like to save that title for her. I mean the number of crazy people can´t be that high?


            • That’s sounds like a wise approach.

              It can be difficult to discern whether someone is a narcissist or whether they are just going through a narcissistic phase, acting out negatively due to something in their life – pain and stress can make us all act out narcissistically, or whether it’s us seeing them a certain way because that’s how we’re experiencing them – if we’re nervous, fearful, others might appear to be scary to us.

              We can never really know other people because we perceive them through ourselves. Just as other people can never really know us because they see us through themselves. We see each other through filters created by who we are, what we think, what we feel, how we experience being and living in this world.

              I find it helps me to acknowledge to myself that I am experiencing someone as being narcissistic, that they remind me of one of my parents and thus to me they appear to be a narcissist. It’s not a diagnosis about them, it’s a clarification for myself. Sometimes I find that I’m experiencing them as narcissistic because of the way I’m behaving in their company which is causing them to react to me just as I am reacting to them because of the way they’re behaving in my company. An adjustment of my behaviour can alter my experience of them and their experience of me. So the ‘narcissist’ label helps me to self-reflect and look at what I’m doing which may be causing the impression I have of them.

              Interactions are an intriguing chemistry, a mix of them and you creating chemical reactions.

              In some ways we’re all crazy, but it’s a normal and natural kind of crazy. When we’re with people who are a similar kind of crazy to us, they feel good to be around, we understand them, it’s familiar. When we’re with people who are a different kind of crazy to us, they’re uncomfortable to be around, we don’t have a personal point of reference to help us understand them, they’re an unknown. Some people make everyone uncomfortable and are too crazy for most of us – they give us a lot to think about.


              • Thanks for your reply.
                I´m starting to get a better understanding of the narcissistic mind. I´m amazed at how far they are willing to go to get attention. It´s so far from my own way of thinking.

                There´s different kinds of crazy. The normal we´re all different individuals with up and downs, someone experiencing something which makes them act out or behave differently and then there´s the sending chills down my spine and making me run for the nearest exist as fast as possible kind of crazy, which is a whole other level.
                I guess it all depends on their motives which again resonates with the original saying a persons attitude determines the outcome.

                Merry Christmas.


                  • I must say I´m a bit impressed about the lies they tell themselves.
                    Do they really see themselves as some kind of heroine in my stories, because then i can honestly say what a pair of blithering idiots.

                    In my case one was 40 and the other 32 years old, but holding their ground like a 4 year old, it doesn´t even make sense to try and understand it.
                    It´s like there is no way of thinking about the situation and seeing it from other sides only their distorted view.


                    • They can’t see any other side of the story except theirs, and their side of the story is written by a twisted toddler in an adult’s body. They’re always the hero/heroine of every story. They just find and cast new costars. When you’re their new costar, they’re the heroine in your story. It can be fun at first, but it gets tiresome.


  3. Many years ago I took a self-improvement course that included a segment on how expectation usually leads to disappointment. I made this big connection around how a lot of my “misery” was self-inflicted through my own unreasonable expectations.

    Good post. 🙂


    • Thank you, Lynette 🙂

      That’s a great insight you had and thank you for sharing it.

      Most of the self-improvement courses I went on said the opposite to the one you went on. They were all about increasing your expectations and not settling for anything less than the unreasonable. GO BIG and expect BIG! And we wonder why… you know 😉

      You inner rebel has always been a great ally!

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