Don’t Assume You Know What Your Partner Is Really Feeling

couple hugging
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Often we have a tendency to think that, just because we know someone well, we know what's going in their head. This is especially true when it comes to relationships. We spend everyday with that person, we come to know their habits and how they react to things, and ultimately we translate that into thinking that we know what drives them, emotionally speaking. But that's a mistake.

The simple fact is, even if you're married to someone for 50 years, you don't really know what it's like to be inside their head. There are things people do out of deep-seated psychological motivations that they, perhaps, don't even fully understand. So to think you know what they're feeling, or why they're doing something, is a fruitless, and often times destructive, endeavor.

The problem with thinking that you know what's going on underneath the emotional hood of your partner is that you're ultimately not looking at their engine, you're looking at your own. You see their behavior, and then you interpret it through your own lens--your own emotional framework, your own history, your own psychology. What you end up with, then, is a hybrid of the two of you, and most likely that has nothing to do with reality.

Once you start thinking you know a person's motivation for doing things, it becomes a slippery slope that leads to all kinds of resentment and anger. And the worst part is, you're very likely resenting something that doesn't even exist. Sure, the action that annoyed you exists, but the reason for that action is unknown, which means you have no ground to stand on when it comes to judging that motivation.

The best thing you can do, then, is to allow grace for your partner when they do something that you feel was wrongly motivated. If they do something that hurts you, obviously it's important to let them know it. But leave it at that. Don't try to project onto them why they did it. After all, there's a whole cocktail of psychological motivations that make all of us do what we do. Assuming you know what's in the cocktail your partner is only going to lead to more problems down the road.

For more guidance, try Lasting, a science-based app backed by The Nest dedicated to improving the health of your marriage or relationship.