Mind reading. Assuming. Catastrophizing the outcome. We do these things all of the time. We read our environment and our partner’s reactions and we make our own conclusions as to what is truly going on. But how accurate are those assumptions? More often than not, assumptions get in the way and are influenced by fears, insecurities, and emotions.
Before we start talking bad about assumptions, there is a point to them. We like to anticipate what is about to happen and make sense of the world as a means of survival. For many of us, it is easier to feel as though we understand what is going on even if the accuracy of our understanding is of question. If our partner is not talking to us, we like to try to assume why that is before communicating with our partner about it. This makes complete sense from a survival standpoint. If you are walking in to a new territory, it makes sense to think of what dangers lay ahead.
The problem comes when we begin to use this survival approach within our relationship and several issues surface as a result. Our partner will likely feel misunderstood. Our partner will likely question why we are jumping to negative conclusions. And, our partner will likely become hurt, feel invalidated, and behave more distantly as a result.
If you find that you often make assumptions in your relationship, do you yourself a favor and take time to reflect on where those assumptions come from. For example, do you hold insecurities surrounding faithfulness due to past infidelity from a previous relationship? Do you fail to recognize the ways your partner has changed over time and failed to give them the benefit of the doubt?
Start by working to recognize and challenge the assumptions you hold regarding your partners behavior. Do the work to ask and communicate with your partner. If you are noticing an assumption, recognize it and evaluate its validity by asking your partner directly. Be your own scientist and test assumptions you hold. For example, if you notice you assume your partner doesn’t care to spend time with your family, question why that is in a non-accusatory way. This might begin with “I’ve noticed that . . .” or “I’ve been wondering how you are feeling regarding. . .” Explore your partner’s behavior and what they have said or done that has led you to feel this way. Might there be other factors at play?
Finally, have patience and grace towards yourself. Assumptions are hard to notice and let go of. Remember that they are there for a reason. However, do your best to keep them out of your relationship (and all relationships for that matter).