When we assume something about a situation, we are working with only a portion of the puzzle pieces to the situation. The gaps in the puzzle get filled in with imagination. Our life experiences , wants, needs, upbringing, patterns, biases and cultural learnings influence the imaginary story we create to fill the voids. When we go into a relationship having already decided what it is going to be like, we end up failing to see what is actually there.
Making assumptions in a relationship takes power away from the other person because we’ve assumed that we already know what their opinion, needs and desires are without actually having an open conversation and hearing directly from them. This leads to misunderstandings based on “our” thoughts and impressions, not the reality of the other.
Assuming things means I didn’t have to expose myself to a difficult conversation or situation. It allows us control because we are writing the script. We imagine the responses of our partners, we craft the rationale behind their actions, we get to define who they are and how they should act or respond.
Assumptions and mind reading often lead to misunderstandings and hurt feelings. Sameera Sullivan, PhD., says “Assumptions are the enemy of communication, and relationships require constant communication to grow.”
Assumptions mean I don’t have to expose myself to a difficult conversation or situation. It allows us control because we are writing the script.We imagine the responses of our partners, we craft the rationale behind their actions, we get to define who they are and how they should act or respond. This undermines the development of trust and intimacy.
Taking a risk toward Intimacy
Assumptions create distance. Neither person feels truly heard or understood for who they are. Assumptions prevent true intimacy by blocking opportunities to establishing trust and understanding. The relationship becomes insecure, because too many assumed expectations, responsibilities, and agreements undermine feelings of stability, trust, or faith.
Even if something might seem like a safe assumption to make, it’s always better to ask. The worst that can happen is that you have an unnecessary conversation. The best that can happen is that we learn more about your partner and can stop behaving based on false beliefs about them.
“If others tell us something we make assumptions, and if they don’t tell us, something we make assumptions to fulfill our need to know and to replace the need to communicate. Even if we hear something and we don’t understand we make assumptions about what it means and then believe the assumptions. We make all sorts of assumptions because we don’t have the courage to ask questions.”
― Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements
Some of the most frequent assumptions that get in the way of our relationships are:·
“This Relationship Will End”
Without realizing it, many of us decide our relationships will end before they even start, perhaps due to past experiences, negative advice, or discouraging statistics. “If you believe a relationship won’t work, it likely won’t”, says April Masinitells. Negativity can push your partner away or you’ll start seeing problems when everything’s actually going well.
“You Know How I Feel”
We often act like our partners can read our minds, but just because something seems obvious to us doesn’t mean it’s clear to them at all. Instead of assuming your partner doesn’t want to give you what you want, entertain the possibility that they just didn’t realize you wanted it. Let the other know what we want is vital. “Communication is key in any relationship — you are entirely responsible for expressing your thoughts and feelings,” suggests Sullivan.
“I Know How They Feel”
Equally harmful is assuming that just because you feel a certain way about something, your partner does, too. Give them space to be themselves and express their own opinions. You do not know what is going on in your partner’s head, so the easiest thing to do is just ask and communicate to avoid any false assumptions
“Since We’re In Love, This Will Be Easy”
When The Beatles sang “All You Need is Love,” they certainly weren’t describing what we need to sustain a healthy relationship. A relationship requires communication, trust, and more. Many people stop trying in their relationships because they assume it should be easy.
If we are to make assumptions, loving assumptions, can actually promote openness, communication and growth in a relationship. John Gottman, Ph.D., marriage/relationship researcher suggests to:
“Remind each other that you love one another, with all of your unique strengths, failures, beauty and flaws.”
Some loving relationship assumptions that can help couples remain united are:
1. We are both doing the best we can, given our personal histories and uniqueness.
2. We can both always do better. We are capable of learning, changing, adapting, and becoming more skillful with choice and practice.
3. We both want to do better. Both of us want to maintain and enhance our relationship, even when negative emotions and mindless patterns get in the way.
4. We both can and need to try harder, do better and apply our skills to every situation that either hurts or promotes our loving bond.
5. Neither one of us have caused all of the problems in our relationship, but we both have to work together to solve them anyway.
These positive relationship assumptions can help soften your view of your partner and bring you closer together? It can be difficult to practice compassion towards someone we love when they are making us angry or hurting us. Reminding ourselves of these basic loving assumptions can help us restore a more harmonious mindset.
When we work together from a common ground of compassion, understanding and love, we remind ourselves that most partners have the common goal of wanting to be close and loving.
Through relationship counseling with Lind Butler, Psychotherapist, Houston, TX, couples can learn to ask questions rather than assume, confront difficult issues and replace harmful assumptions in relationships. With more knowledge of who your partner really is, an environment of intimacy, compassion and connection can be created.
Instead of assuming, talk to your partner — it could be what saves your relationship.“