Don’t Try to Read Your Partner’s Mind 

Many conflicts and disagreements result from people assuming they know what their partner is thinking. These assumptions can lead to a variety of feelings such as anger, hurt and disappointment. Many times, the person has misread what his partner’s thoughts truly are. Avoid miscommunications by talking openly and asking questions.

It is fairly common for people to guess what their partner’s body language means. However,¬†guesses are often inaccurate. Picture a husband and wife talking about their day. She explains to him a situation where she went to talk to her boss about some difficulties she was experiencing and she states that her boss yelled at her. While she is telling her husband this story, he makes a facial gesture that she assumes is because he is disappointed in her actions. She thinks to herself, “he hates it when I speak up because he thinks I am rude.” She stops the story short and goes into a different room. In reality, he made the face because he was concerned that her boss yelled at her. He then assumes she left the room because she needed some quiet time after her bad day.

Here’s another example: A husband tells his wife excitedly that his boss talked to him about a potential new opportunity at work. As he is talking, his wife just sort of nods and smiles. He assumes she is not excited and he thinks, “she always worries I will work more hours. She doesn’t care about me being successful at my job.” In reality, she learned some sad news at her own job today about a co-worker’s child who has become very ill. She was distracted by this while he was talking and was trying to force herself to look somewhat happy for him. She didn’t want to tell him about the news she heard because he was so excited.

Attempts at mind reading cause misunderstandings in a variety of ways. Avoid assuming you know what your partner is thinking or feeling. Ask questions such as, “what do you think about that?”¬† If he says he thinks it is a great idea but his body language says otherwise, point that out and ask more questions. Talking openly about feelings and communicating them helps couples to grow more connected emotionally.

2 Responses to “Don’t Try to Read Your Partner’s Mind”

  1. My husband and I are in a long distance relationship. He left for the Navy 8months into our relationship and that was realy hard on both of us. We’ve been together for 5years now, married for 7months. I am one person who can not speak out her mind when hurt or upset over something and that frustrates him alot. This article will do so much for me… I will try my level best to not “mind read”. This is the main cause of our misandurstandings.
    Thank you very much

  2. I am a marriage counselor in private practice in Delray Beach, Florida. I was a psychologist for 25 years before returning to graduate school to earn another degree in marriage and family therapy, and I now specialize in that field.

    I was surprised and delighted to see this article about mind-reading. This comes up so very often in my practice. Although I avoid giving advice as much as possible, I frequently point out when people are trying to read the minds of their spouses, and I forcefully caution them not to do this.

    Mind-reading attempts almost always end badly, because humans are so very bad at it. Since we’re wrong most of the time, we do precisely the wrong things at the wrong times.

    My suggestion? Never read minds. Instead, just ask. It’s so very easy to do. Just ask, for example, “What were you thinking when you…? What were you trying to tell me? What would you like me to do?” Then your response will almost always be appropriate, helpful, and welcome, unless you lack the maturity to be married in the first place.

    Plug: There are plenty of related links on my web site:

    Dr. David L. Ransen

Leave a Reply