I hate to be the one to break the news to you but try as you may you don’t have superpowers. I know! It’s a total bummer to know you won’t ever have any awesome mind-reading powers like Professor Charles Xavier of the X-Men mutants.
Not only can you not read your partner’s mind but, you guessed it, your partner can’t read yours either. If you are like many other humans you may have been caught thinking “shouldn’t my partner just know that?” or “I don’t have to tell her/him because they should know I hate spaghetti after working out!” Despite us all being human it’s all too common to get caught in the belief that both you and your partner do indeed have such powers. Realizing that you and your partner are human and are unable to communicate telepathically is essential for relationship success and I’ll tell you why.
Relationship Secret #1) Your partner cannot read your mind
In relationships each person has needs. A need for love, a need for connection, and needs that may seem silly like putting the bowls in the bottom of the dishwasher not the top. Whatever the need you must take ownership in 1) telling your partner what it is you need 2) repeat if necessary, and 3) following up with them about it nicely. What all this means is that because your partner isn’t a mind reader you have to use the power of…words! Yes, you have to tell them what you need and therefore how best to love you.
Key things to remember: Because we are all human, your partner may need gentle reminders of your needs. Key word: gentle. Nope sorry, just because you tell your partner once doesn’t mean it’s now locked in solid. Think of shampoo instructions: lather, rinse, repeat. Also, telling your partner your needs doesn’t mean it’s any less genuine when they respond accordingly. You are helping them love you! No, your partner should not just know your needs (more on that later), you have to help them learn. Sitting back and expecting things to just happen is what leads to frustration and resentment.
As a client of mine once said: “I guess I can’t expect her to know what I’m thinking. I mean, how can I expect her to 1) know I want her to hold my hand and 2) for her to have that exact same feeling at the exact same time I do?!” – Exactly. Rather than fuming in silence, vocalizing “hey honey I would really like you to hold my hand right now” makes the internal need known and removes any guesswork.
Tip: Give your needs parameter in the format of who, what, when, where, why, and how.
Who: I would like you and me
What: to go to brunch
When: this Sunday at 11
Where: at that yummy spot we haven’t been to in awhile off 53rd Street
Why: because it sounds so yummy!
How: It would be great to bike there too!
Relationship Secret #2) You cannot read your partner’s mind
I’m sure you saw this one coming. Yup, despite how epic your super hero outfit may have been this past Halloween, your mind reading skills, just like your partner’s, are also still at human level. It doesn’t matter how many years you’ve been together, guessing and assuming you know what your partner needs or their expectations can be detrimental. You may have a pretty close idea; however, it’s important to check-in.
Tip – A gentle check-in: “Hey sweetie, I remember you wanted to go out to dinner tonight. I wanted to check in to see if that was what you still wanted to do and where you were wanting to go.”
You will also need to do your best at logging in your mind what your partner tells you they need, especially if it’s been repeated. For example, if your partner tells you they need the love language of gifts like some lovely flowers to have a deep felt-sense that you love them then it’s important to log this in your mind and respond. Although your partner may need to gently remind you of their needs, it is also your responsibility to do your best to remember them. Team effort!
Although it may seem like these tips are not all that secret, we all fall into the expectation of the mind-reading trap. I see it day in and out in my therapy practice. By practicing these tips of vocalizing your needs to your partner, gently reminding your partner, logging in your mind your partner’s needs, and checking in for confirmation, you will be a relationship superhero in no time!