Reading Your Partners Mind
When Ann came to see me, she was in the process of counting how
many times in the past year her husband had turned on the
television when she wanted to talk to him--not that she had ever
told him she wanted to talk. She left him oblivious to her
upset, while her resentment built at his failure to magically
"know" what was on her mind.
When we are young it seems as if our caretakers magically know
when we need to eat and what they must do to take care of us.
Children have a family romance in which their parents are always
wise and good. This is extended to the whole world via the
culture of children's stories, in which wonderful things happen
to the good guys and the bad guys get their due.
The Prince comes. The slipper fits. They live happily ever after.
In adulthood this can become the expectation: that our partners
should always know what we need without our having to tell them.
When our partner fails to read our minds and to "magically" know
our needs, resentment builds. We can take our partner's
"blindness" as a criticism of what we want or as a failure to do
their part in the relationship. I have seen many couples who
both believe that the other one knows, "just knows," what it is
they need and is withholding it for reasons of perversity or
vindictiveness. This leads to a kind of passivity and watching
in the relationship. We wait and wait for our partner to
recognize us by doing for us the thing we feel they should know
to do. We describe this, as it has often been called as, "saving
brown stamps." Meanwhile, resentment builds and we cease to be a
proper participant in the relationship.
Our belief that there is a force outside of our lives magically
steering it toward love and happiness is deeply ingrained;
usually it is only given up as a consequence of repeated
disappointments. Even when it is, we can still become involved
in trying to be the perfect person ourselves, believing that our
slimness or muscularity will exercise a magical attraction on
others around us. Thus women become anorexic and men spend hours
at the gym. These behaviors often represent an attempt to keep
our belief in magic alive.
Copyright 2005 Linda Miles Ph.D