Every week I have conversations with friends, mostly female, about their relationships which subsequently results in a detailed post on the whys, hows and whats of dating. Don’t worry, they’ve already given the green light to leverage the good, bad and ‘I can’t believe this is my life’ tales. Lately, a recurring topic has plagued our discussions–Assumptions. Well, they don’t call them assumptions, they usually just complain about something happening that wasn’t supposed to happen. For clarity, it isn’t one or two friends. It’s most (me included)! From starter relationships to the satisfyingly single, women are getting more than they bargained for with guys. However, I’m starting to wonder if we bear the blame. While this post is relevant to every gender and orientation, I’ll focus on giving my girls some insight into what I’ve discovered as the Assumption Conundrum.
If you haven’t experienced the following, consider yourself lucky. For everyone else, here’s an overview of why assumptions and dating, just don’t mix.
1) We meet/start dating someone: Ahhh, the beginning. Birds are chirping, flowers are blooming and you’re in the mood for love, right? It’s great at the beginning (and throughout the relationship if you find the right partner) because no unwritten rules have been broken. There’s more promise in your joined future than baggage from your combined past. Essentially, we don’t really know the person smiling at us from across the table and it feels great! Everything is flawless as we haven’t had to show how human we are–how capable we are of disappointing, disagreeing and distrusting. This stage holds the innocence and purity we spend the rest of the relationship hoping to one day regain.
2) We fill in the blanks: Because we’re in a state of euphoria and have not been introduced to the ‘whole’ person we are dating, we make ASSUMPTIONS to complete our image of him. Mistake #1. If he opens doors and pulls out chairs, he must be a gentleman, raised right by his parents and would never be disrespectful, untrustworthy or uncaring. When acquaintances refer to him as a “good guy,” we assume he won’t shy away from commitment, will consider our feelings and also take care of his responsibilities. Regardless of the action, word or description, every unknown becomes known as we fill the blanks with layer upon layer of assumptions.
3) A real situation allows us to meet the real person: After only a few months of dating, we encounter a situation where he behaves contrary to what our minds had imagined. The good news-we finally have a chance to meet the real him. The man with which we’ve (prematurely) shared intimate words, thoughts and deeds. The bad news-we struggle with what to believe. Instead of accepting what’s in front of us, we trip over ourselves to justify actions and explain away confusion. Logic and reason become enemies and we instead refuse the reality we’ve witnessed.
4) We become angry & fight the truth: After discussing the issue with him, we get upset and a tad bit indignant. How dare our imagined truth be a sham! How could he knowingly trick us like this? We assumed he was everything we wanted and needed him to be and he instead chose to have imperfections. Imperfections shielded from us in the beginning and never communicated until we’d already planted another seed in the soil. Isn’t that the bait and switch tactic? He looks at us confused because he never told us to fill in the blanks. He didn’t ask us to assume anything more than what his actions showed. Now we’re engaged in an all out argument fighting over a reality that never existed.
And it all started with assumptions….
I’m not perfect but I’m trying to spend less time filling in the blanks and more time listening to and learning about my partner. What about you? Do you make assumptions when dating someone new? How do you balance your view of him versus reality? Share your thoughts and comments below!