How we gamble on our relationships every day…

Photo by Andrew Nicholson

Making assumptions – they really can cause so much damage to our relationships.

Anything your partner says or does has to travel through your filter system. You then make an assumption about what it means based on your beliefs and expectations. However, your assumptions are just as likely to be incorrect as they are to be correct, unless your partner’s behaviour and words are crystal clear.

Both men and women make them in everyday communication, and here’s just one example: ‘Why hasn’t he texted me back!? He’s just not interested! Men always let me down. My ex was obviously right, I’m just not attractive!’ … and all because he hadn’t texted that morning. This illustrates how we make assumptions based on how attractive and lovable we think we are. In this case her new partner is paying for something her ex said to her during an argument, because she’s assuming his lack of contact must mean he feels the same and doesn’t find her beautiful.

However, his real reason for not texting; he’s in work mode, in an unexpected meeting with a very upset client that is taking all day… And incidentally, he thinks she’s the most beautiful woman he’s ever known.

However, if she then treats him as if her assumption is true, his perception of her may well change very quickly…

Making an assumption is no different to gambling. The simple fact is that until you ask, you will never know the truth.

One thing you will notice, is the less positive you feel about yourself, the more negative your assumptions about the meaning behind others’ behaviour. The better you feel within yourself, the more positive they are. Observing your assumptions is a big key to assessing your inner state.

When you make an assumption, good or bad, you will treat your partner as if it’s true anyway. To us, our assumptions feel very real indeed. When you continue to make negative assumptions, your partner’s chance of survival in the relationship is greatly reduced because it becomes extremely hard work for them to have to have to spend time convincing you that they are not doing what you assume they are.

When you don’t clarify whether you have interpreted something correctly and choose to take offence regardless, resentment begins to build. Over time, one brick at a time, this builds into a huge wall of contempt that your partner has little hope of breaking through when they don’t even know why it’s there. Resentment also creates a shift in your energy that they will feel.

Such a waste, if all of this pain has been based on information that has been completely misread…

So how do you get through this? Well, for a start, always assume that your partner is not doing or saying something to hurt you intentionally, particularly if you’re not having an argument. If something does nip you, then reflect back to them that you may have interpreted something incorrectly. Do so immediately, lovingly and without accusation. If you accuse, they will defend themselves. Always remember, your partner shows up as a reflection of the way you communicate with them when they’re with you. So ask lovingly, and chances are they’ll respond lovingly.

You could say something along the lines of ‘Sweetie, I think I may have misunderstood something you’ve just said, so can you elaborate on what you really meant so that I understand. It would mean a great deal to me.’

In fact, Andy and I don’t even say that. We just say ‘Ouch’… it’s a loving way of communicating the same thing, also bringing an element of fun into it. We’re only too aware of just how differently our two personality types perceive the world, so of course there will be occasional mismatch in how we understand things. It’s not right or wrong, it’s just part of life, and we understand only too well the importance of removing the guessing games from a relationship… Ultimately it has taught us how to communicate openly, honestly and lovingly. We always assume the best in each other, and the best keeps showing up…

When you realise that the meaning you attached to something was not the correct one, your partner will be incredibly relieved that they’ve had the chance to express themselves properly, and that they can show up around you authentically. Resentment doesn’t build, and issues are resolved quickly and effortlessly. The relationship remains happy, with clear and open communication. This is the foundation to building trust…

Just think back to a time when someone thought something incorrect about you, and how relieved you felt when you were able to explain the truth and put things right. If they hadn’t told you, you’d never have known, and there wouldn’t have been a single thing you could have done about it…   Well, relationships are no different…

 

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