The dangers of assumptions in relationships
Why won’t you ask me if I miss you? You’d instead assume that if I didn’t text back after 2 hours, it meant I spent my entire time with a valentine’s substitute, all the while laughing as your notifications popped. Still, in reality, I fell asleep as soon as I got home – yea, that’s the danger of assumptions in relationships.
Relationships are complex and require constant attention and effort to maintain – It’ll be a joke to think anything less of this. Unfortunately, assumptions can easily creep into our thinking and can be one of the biggest dangers to any relationship. Assumptions are beliefs we hold about the other person or the relationship that we take as accurate without questioning or verifying them. They can be small things like assuming the other person likes a particular food to more important things like assuming they’re happy in the relationship.
The problem with assumptions is that they can create a significant communication barrier between two people. When we assume something, we are not actively seeking information or clarification from the other. Instead, we are relying on our own beliefs and perceptions, which may not be accurate – in most cases, they’re incorrect. This can lead to misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and unrealistic expectations or results.
For a moment, imagine you assume that someone is okay with you spending long hours at work without checking in on them because they haven’t expressed any complaints. However, they may feel neglected and resentful but haven’t said anything because they don’t want to rock the boat – the ‘let’s keep it safe’ thought. The longer you hold onto this assumption, the more distant you will become from each other.
Assumptions can also create negative feedback loops in a relationship. If you assume the other person is not interested in spending time with you, you may stop initiating activities or conversations with them. This, in turn, may lead the other person to assume you are no longer interested in them, creating a self-fulfilling danger prophecy – Do you see the negative loop?
So, what can you do to avoid the dangers of assumptions in relationships? Here are four things I think could make a difference.
- Communicate: In simpler terms, I’d say, ‘just ask away.’ The most important thing you can do is to communicate openly and honestly with each other. Please don’t assume that you know what they are thinking or feeling. If you are unsure about something, ask them for clarification.
- Don’t make assumptions based on past experiences: Just because your ex behaved in a particular way doesn’t mean your current partner will do the same. It’s essential to give each other the benefit of the doubt and not assume they will behave in a particular way based on past experiences. So if the former didn’t prioritize frequent communication, took 5 hours to respond, and never got the hint of your feeling of neglect because they were cheating with some other fellow who was no match to you doesn’t exactly mean that’s the case with this new person. Who knows, the present may be genuinely clueless about the ‘how’ to be that great communicator. When the waters are still enough, do number 1 – communicate and ask away.
- Be open to feedback: If the other person does express their feelings or thoughts, don’t dismiss them or become defensive. Be open to hearing their perspective, even if it doesn’t align with your assumptions.
- Practice empathy: Try to see things from the other person’s perspective. This will help you better understand their feelings and motivations and reduce the likelihood of making assumptions. This might not be easy, but sometimes all it takes is giving that benefit of the doubt – Love is patient, after all. Remember, more people walk around with a heavy weight they can’t make you see. PS – this isn’t encouraging people who are emotionally unavailable and avoidant. All I’m stressing is practicing empathy /the ability to understand and share the feelings of another./
In summary, assumptions can be dangerous in relationships because they can create communication barriers, lead to misunderstandings, and damage the relationship. To avoid assumptions, communicate openly, don’t make assumptions based on past experiences, be open to feedback, and practice empathy. If you can do this, you can build a stronger and healthier relationship with one another.