Experts Say To Avoid Making These 11 Assumptions In Your Relationship
Since you and your partner know each other well, it can be tempting to make assumptions in your relationship. You may even get to the point where it feels as if you can guess what the other is thinking. But the reality is, it's never really possible to know what someone wants or needs, if you aren't saying it out loud.
Of course, making the occasional educated guess isn't a big deal, and doing so is a perk of being close to someone. But constantly making large, sweeping assumptions can lead to frustrating situations, hurt feelings, and potentially even the end of the relationship, if you aren't careful.
That's why, no matter how comfortable you get, you'll both want to make communicating a priority. "It’s far better to simply face the issue directly — opening up to [your] partner with honesty — rather than ever expecting a partner to read [your] mind," Dr. Carla Marie Manly, clinical psychologist and relationship expert, tells Bustle. And vice versa.
This is true in newer relationships, as well as ones that have been chugging along for years. People change, goals change, and in order to stay on the same page, you'll want to talk about it on an ongoing basis. With that in mind, here are a few assumptions you should never make in your relationship, according to experts.
1. That You Share The Same Goals
If you're dating someone, it's only natural to assume you have the same goals and want the same things. And yet, even if you've been together for forever, this is still something you'll want to talk about on a fairly regular basis.
"We often form relationships with an understanding or inference that life goals are shared," Manly says. "Yet, life goals, even if discussed early on, are subject to change. As such, it’s a great idea to check in with your partner periodically on life goals — such as financial goals, having children, work goals, etc."
Making this a priority can help you to stay on the same page, while also making it possible to adjust and compromise, if your goals happen to change.
2. That You Define Cheating The Same Way
Everyone has their own idea of what cheating looks like, which is why it's never safe to assume you and your partner will necessarily define it the same way.
"For example, the idea of infidelity can encompass both sexual and psychological realms," Manly says. "What one person might think is unfaithful behavior may seem appropriate to another."
You won't know for sure until you talk about it, and establish a few boundaries. "Having open and honest conversations about such issues — diving into the discussions with the intention of gaining clarity and forming agreements — can prevent serious problems in the long-run," Manly says.
3. That Your Relationship Will Stay The Same
It's easy to get comfortable in a relationship and assume that it'll always stay the same, and that you and your partner will always think and act the way you did when you first met.
But keep in mind that, over time, you'll both "grow emotionally and as a couple," Sharon J. Lawrence, licensed clinical social worker and owner of Selah Wellness & Therapeutic Services, LLC, tells Bustle. And that means you may change as individuals, and that your relationship may change slightly as a result.
By being open to the idea that you're both changing, though, these shifts will come as less of a shock, and can even be viewed as a good thing.
4. That You Can Read Each Other's Minds
The last thing you want to do is assume that your partner knows what your thinking, or that you know what they're thinking, as this will only lead to disappointment and frustration due to unmet expectations, Dr. Tamar Blank, a licensed psychologist, tells Bustle.
Of course, you may have a pretty good idea about what the other is thinking or feeling, since you spend so much time together. But it's still important to check in and say it out loud.
5. That Your Partner Will Meet All Of Your Needs
"This in and of itself is actually unrealistic," Lawrence says. Your partner may be your support system, best friend, and confidant. But since they probably can't fulfill all those roles 24/7, you'll both need to include friends, family, and even therapists into the mix.
"It's important that you identify what needs are met within your relationship and outside," Lawrence says. "If you don't, you will fall down a rabbit hole of disappointment." So go ahead and discuss how you're both feeling, what needs aren't being met, and how you can go both go about fulfilling them.
6. That You'll Get Married
Even if your relationship is going really well, and even if you've been together for a while, it's still not a great idea to assume you'll take that next step and get married.
After all, "the decision to marry is very personal," Dr. Michele Leno, a licensed psychologist and owner of DML Psychological Services, PLLC, tells Bustle. "Therefore, a discussion that includes concrete answers is warranted."
If this is important to you, you'll want to talk about it and make it an ongoing conversation. That way you and your partner can be sure you're on the same page and envisioning the same things for the future, instead of just assuming the relationship will head a certain way.
7. That The Relationship Is Going Well
While this may sound pessimistic, it's actually not a good idea to assume your relationship is on solid ground, or that your partner is 100 percent happy, unless you're talking about it regularly.
As Leno says, "It's important to check in intermittently just to assure you're on the same page. Remember some people are more passive and will only address a matter when they are fed up."
Talking about it means opening the floor to share things that aren't working for you, while allowing your partner to do the same. It may be awkward at first, but by assuring each other it's OK to be honest, you can actually create a stronger bond.
8. That Things Will Be Different After Marriage
It's so easy to assume that getting married, and making such a big commitment to each other, will naturally shift the dynamic of your relationship — and maybe even smooth over ongoing problems. But experts say it doesn't always work that way.
"People change when motivated to do so," Leno says, so you shouldn't expect marriage to magically "fix" anything. Instead, it can help to discuss your needs and expectations, Leno says, at every stage of your relationship and work on problems from within, instead of relying on an external change.
9. That You'll Socialize In The Same Way
If you like seeing friends or going out on the town, then you may think your partner will like it, too. But the reality is, "those in a relationship should not make assumptions about how often and in what capacity their partner wants to socialize with others," Michelle Fraley, MA, WPCC, psychologist, relationship expert, and professional matchmaker, tells Bustle.
Again, talking about it will be key, and that's before problems start to arise. "Discussing your ideal patterns of socializing and learning to compromise if your ideals differ will be valuable in avoiding feelings of resentment and frustration," Fraley says.
10. That You Don't Have To Talk About Your Sex Life
Once you get a few months or years into your relationship, it can feel as if your sex life is locked in. You have a groove, and you both seem fulfilled.
But are you really? As Fraley says, "Sexual satisfaction, including specific expectations and desires, is a discussion that needs to happen early on and throughout the relationship to make sure both partners are getting their physical needs met."
And this is true even if you've talked about it before, since "sexual needs and desires change over time," Fraley says. "Making assumptions about what your partner is thinking in terms of sex is not going to get anyone's needs met and will only result in continued frustration and dissatisfaction."
11. That You View Chores The Same Way
"Couples should be open and honest with each other and discuss their expectations for both themselves and their partners when it comes to division of labor in the home," Fraley says. This can include who will do certain chores and when, and what a clean and orderly apartment might look like.
Assumptions are, after all, incredibly easy to make, especially as you get comfortable in your relationship. But since they can lead to problems — like resentment, frustration, and even breakups — it may help to talk out loud more often. Ongoing communication can be tough, but it will give you a better shot at creating a fair and stable relationship.