Being in a loving relationship doesn’t mean you can read someone’s mind.
Do you usually just know what your partner is thinking?
Can you sense when someone you love is mad at you?
Do you ask them about it before telling your story about what their thinking and feeling?
Michael notices certain “looks” Ashley gets on her face when she is angry, sad or happy. He’s actually pretty good at reading her and being able to accurately guess her emotional state. It can seem very easy in a loving relationship to accurately guess your partner’s emotional state, especially if he or she is demonstrative or has a terrible poker face.
When you’ve known someone for a long time and have had a lot of experiences together, you often can even finish each other’s sentences. Hollywood doesn’t lie about that.
We believe that getting to know someone on such a deep level is great. Knowing and understanding each other on that level can greatly enhance your relationship.
When we were first together, Michael often missed or was unaware of what Ashley was going through beyond the surface level. Now, he’s usually aware of and able to connect with what she’s going through on a much deeper level.
There is no greater feeling in a loving relationship than your partner understanding, connecting and being able to “get” you right away. In fact, it is one of the greatest benefits of long-term, passionate and deep relationships.
Perceived Psychic Abilities Leads to Misunderstandings
Where we get into trouble, is when we start believing a loving relationship with someone gives us psychic abilities.
Problems surface when you move from guessing what your partner is thinking and feeling to “knowing” your partners intentions, desires, thoughts and feelings.
The minute you move from guessing and asking to “knowing”, your relationship is headed in the wrong direction.
No matter how much you love someone or how many times you’ve been right in the past about their inner world, you are not a mind reader.
Most of us in serious, loving relationships at some level believe we are mind readers. We start to believe our mind’s stories about our partner’s intentions, thoughts and feelings.
- Instead of just noticing your boyfriend looks angry, maybe you start to believe the story in your mind that he is angry at you for the way you talked to his mother.
- Because your wife hasn’t been pursing you sexually as much lately, you start to believe the story that she isn’t attracted to you anymore.
- You’ve noticed your husband seems much more preoccupied and distant, so you start to believe the story that he’s mad at you or avoiding being around you.
Your mind constantly makes up stories about nearly everything in your life. Sometimes the stories are right, but many times they are wrong. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the stories your mind creates on a moment to moment basis. There is actually nothing you could do to stop your mind from creating these stories.
Relationship problems occur when you tell your story about your partner as if it is the only truth. You start to tell your story about your partner before asking about his or her intentions, thoughts and feelings. You “know” you’re right about your partner, so maybe you use a harsh tone of voice, start to accuse, or withdraw from your partner.
Observe and Report Your Story in a loving relationship
Instead of mind reading and “knowing” what your partner is thinking and feeling, all you need to do is observe and report in a loving relationship.
First, you want to observe your partner’s behavior. This is where your deep knowledge of your partner is helpful. When you really know someone, you’re able to be aware when their behavior is different than normal. You’ll notice subtle changes in your partner that you can ask him or her about.
Tell your partner what you’ve observed tentatively as if it is a guess and not the truth. The key is sticking to observations without your story added to it. “I could be wrong” is a good way to start.
Ex. “you seem somewhat sad ”, “I noticed your pacing back and forth?”, “you seem preoccupied today?”
Second, be genuinely and curiously interested in your partner’s story about what he or she is going through, before telling your mind’s story about it.
After sharing your observations, genuinely ask the other person to express his or her story of the situation. It’s important to stay curious and want to learn the other person’s point of view, rather than try to prove your story is true. You are like an investigative reporter trying to get to the bottom of your partner’s story.
Third, report your partner’s story back to him or her to make sure you understood it correctly. This is an important step because if you report back your story instead of your partner’s he or she can correct you.
Finally, you can tentatively and vulnerably tell the other person the story that’s been playing in your mind about these observations. This is only an optional step and it is often better not to tell your story. If you can’t help yourself or feel it’s really important to share your story, be careful not to become defensive or blame the other person.
You just want to tell your partner the conclusions you’ve been making based on your observations. Use “I” statements while expressing how you’ve been feeling about these observations. Remember, this is your story about what has been happening. It’s not a fact.
Present your story as just one of many possible explanations for what you’ve been observing.
In a loving relationship, it is best to stay away from minding reading and “knowing” anything about your partner. Stick to observing your partner’s actions and reporting his or her story about the situation.
Say Yes to Love,