You might see your partner and yourself through the lens of many assumptions. Then you begin to act toward your partner in ways that confirm these assumptions. Instead of changing your assumptions, you become disillusioned that love is not what you thought it should be.
Loving relationships never follow a smooth path but there are some assumptions that make dealing with the bumps even more difficult. Some of these assumptions may be only yours or some of them might be shared ones. Look at the following assumptions about love that can hold you back from fully loving and check off those that ring true for you.1
You don’t trust that your partner will always love you. Your insecurity then leads to jealousy and suspiciousness that alienates the very person you want to love you.
- I Need Everyone’s Approval to Feel Worthwhile
This assumption keeps you in a submissive position in order to be approved. You have given your partner tremendous power—-the power to approve or disapprove of you. In doing so, this assumption is self-defeating because it stops you from being able to grow in the relationship.
- I Can’t Feel Happy and Fulfilled Without Being Loved
Tremendous insecurity results from this assumption because there will be times you will not have your partner in your life or your partner’s love. This assumption may cause anxiety just thinking about the possibility of losing love. It makes you feel like you are walking on egg-shells.
- If I Don’t Meet All of My Partner’s Expectations and Demands, Disapproval and Rejection Will Follow
When you have this assumption, the relationship becomes a burden that eventually leads to resentment. Either you continue to be a slave to your partner’s demands or you run away, carrying this assumption with you, to start the whole process over again with a new partner.
- My Partner Is Not What I Need
You find your partner lacking so you try to make him into what you want him to be. You look disapprovingly or nag when he does not do what you want. Does this get you what you want or does this change him?
- If My Partner Rejects Me, It Proves That There’s Something Wrong with Me
Sure, rejection does not feel good, but that rejection might say everything about your partner and nothing about you. You have magnified the result of your partner’s actions into feeling devastated instead of seeing it as a momentary glitch in your relationship.
Dealing with Assumptions So They Do Not Derail Your Relationship
All of the above assumptions can be changed once they are recognized as just assumptions and not a reflection of reality. Your assumptions are just the way you see yourself, your partner or the situation, not the way you, your partner nor the situation always is.
Furthermore, these assumptions often are not expressed. Instead of telling your partner, “I need your approval in order to feel loved,” you say “You’re always criticizing me.” What would happen if you stated your assumption out loud? Maybe your partner would not feel so attacked and would, instead, understand a little more about where you are coming from. So, by recognizing, stating, and changing your assumptions, you can change the way you love.
You can challenge each of the above assumptions by replacing them with a more helpful one. For example, instead of assuming that you have a deficit that will cause your partner to find someone else, you could assume that you are lovable and just need to make sure your partner sees this. Indeed, what would happen if you assumed you are loved even when there isn’t someone in your life presently acknowledging it? In a subsequent post you will discover how to see yourself as lovable independent of your partner’s actions.
Do you assume that you have to meet your partner’s expectations and demands? You could, instead, assume that your partner is capable of meeting her own needs. Then you would just show your partner how she can meet her own needs.
Finally, assuming that you and your partner are okay just the way you are can go a long way towards avoiding the conflicts that occur when you are depending on your partner to fulfill your needs or trying to change your partner.
Burns, D. D. (1985). Intimate connections: The new and clinically tested program for overcoming loneliness developed at the Presbyterian–University of Pennsylvania Medical Center. New York: William Morrow & Co.