Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Stop Expecting Mind-Reading

When we are young and idealize falling in love, many of us imagined a perfect partner who reads our mind and intuits our needs and wants. Later, the mature person of any age begins to realize that if you are going to have any success in relationships with other people, that's really NOT a healthy or realistic expectation to have. We need to grow up emotionally and make an internal shift on this point.

In emotionally healthy adult relationships, each person needs to be able to reflect and sort out what they are feeling, and what they want to request of the other people in their life. Nobody is ever going to read your mind telepathically and deliver your unstated needs to you by UPS. It doesn't work like that. The sooner you can learn to reduce your expectations of others in this area, the happier you can become. You need to voice your own needs, as well as listen to those of the people who matter to you.

Even the right sensitive, caring partner is not feeling exactly what you are feeling, or understanding the nuances of what you need unless you express it. Sometimes in couples counseling, I find one partner with distorted or "magical" thinking about this, and holding onto childhood fantasies that their perfect partner will know them without any effort on their part. Sorry, but I can pretty much guarantee you that isn't going to happen.

I sometimes find it helpful to think about it being our individual job to identify what we are feeling, and teach others how we want to be loved. We are each different, and you may have a very different love language from your partners'. Neither of you is wrong, but as you accept and learn about the differences between you and your partner----in terms of childhood experiences, unmet needs, unique feelings, and expressed desires---you can actually grow much closer.

As it turns out, assumptions are dangerous in relationships are quite dangerous. For example, here are a few bad ones:

1.      I don't have to tell my partner what I need. They should know. ( A set-up for much disappointment.)

2.      I know everything about my partner. (Watch out! This one could come back to bite you. An attitude of openness and curiosity is actually much more helpful. People change all their lives, hopefully, as we keep living, learning, and evolving.)

3.      My happiness is totally dependent on somebody else making me happy. (Wait! Where's your responsibility for bringing some happiness and sharing it with your partner?)

4.      My partner should always be the one to court me, or reach out to me. (Actually, everyone likes to feel that your partner initiates time and positive contact with you. This shouldn't be one directional.)

Let's put that myth to rest that an ideal, mythical partner will read your mind, understand your feelings without any effort on your part, and meet all your needs. The good news is that you will be a better person and a better role model for your children if you are a grown-up who takes grown-up sized responsibility for sorting out your own upset feelings and asserting yourself in a healthy, appropriate way. That's the grown-up adaptation of that childhood wish, well resolved.

No comments:

Post a Comment