Assumptions about your partner’s thoughts, words and actions can have a tremendous impact on your romantic relationship and other areas of your life. If left unchecked, they will prevent you from living a happy life.
Assumptions can arise if you never take the time to openly discuss your thoughts and feelings with your partner. They may originate from your very own ideas and experiences or from outside sources, such as hearsay, which are typically taken out of context or blown out of proportion. If your thoughts and actions are dictated by assumptions, you’ll find it almost impossible to stay levelheaded and maintaining a positive attitude in the face of obstacles. If you let yourself become convinced that mere ideas are harsh facts, you and your partner will face trying times, and you could end up coping with relationship anxiety.
What are the types of assumptions?
Assumptions can be direct or indirect. A direct assumption is basically a thought that someone believes something despite its questionable validity. It does not necessarily originate from real life situations, but it is nonetheless taken as fact and usually results in an emotional response. On the other hand, indirect assumptions are those that don’t originate from within, but from secondhand information that’s believed to be true, despite the absence of any real evidence.
Who is prone to making assumptions?
It’s not unusual for any person in a committed relationship to assume that their partner will see the world the way they do. In the idealistic or honeymoon phase, lovers have the feeling that they are on the same page and see the world similarly. It takes a while for each member of a couple to start to find out that the ‘other’ might not share their views about life or relationships. We all bring assumptions about behaviour and ways of doing things from our upbringing. How can we not? We have no choice growing up but to take in the social environment in which we found ourselves.
However, people who have experienced something unpleasant in their past relationships and family environment tend to have a bigger tendency to assume the worst once the honeymoon phase is over. When facing trying times, they could unwittingly convince themselves that for example, their partner is being unfaithful; they are not being thought about but instead being taken for granted; or that they are being manipulated.
The inherent problem with assumptions is that most people tend not to find out whether they are true or not and then become suspicious and falsely accuse the ‘other’ creating problems that might not have emerged. People who assume that others are going to behave one way or another are inevitably going to be disappointed. This is particularly so if these assumptions are derived from their own fears and inhibitions arising from previous experience; they therefore experience the other person ‘as if’ they are likely to think and behave as others close to them behaved in the past.
Such people are likely to look for the smallest signs that will help affirm their beliefs, thus making their assumptions more difficult to overcome. This is not deliberate. We follow our neural pathways and seek that which is familiar even if familiar doesn’t mean pleasant; for example it might look as though they are reinforcing the emotions they want to experience, because this is what they are used to. It is called ‘the compulsion to repeat’.
People who are fragile and perhaps experience deep and overpowering emotional needs might unconsciously be more attached to their assumptions than they are to actual reality. This is because sometimes internal reality is at odds with external reality. Internal reality feels real and thus it is real to that person. It can be a surprise that it doesn’t mirror external reality in the form of someone else’s reality.
It is possible to be pleasantly surprised if what you are suspicious of doesn’t eventuate. If so this can be a real lesson that people won’t always behave in a way that you expect them to, that they think differently, that they are used to different kinds of relationships.
How do you overcome assumptions?
If you see assumptions as facts, what can you do to recognise what they truly are? The best answer is to listen. Listen to yourself and to your partner. Strive to be self-knowing; identify and understand your genuine emotions. If you’re feeling hurt, manipulated, neglected or rejected, take a step back and make sure that you are not just making assumptions. Be honest with your partner and be open to discussing your actions, thoughts and feelings. Don’t let assumptions sabotage your life together – build a relationship that fosters trust.