One thing that has always surprised me over the years about clients and friends who come to me with relationship questions is how unobservant people can be with their partners.
It’s like so many of us do not really see the person before us and so quite alot of behaviours, actions, words and what it all means, tends to fly over our heads.
And it’s when shite hits the fan then we start to ask ourselves why such a thing could have happened.
If anything, I think it can be quite an unhelpful way of going about love and life. Not truly observing someone reeks of going-with-the-flow type of situations – where we aren’t truly present in the moment and not really asking ourselves why someone is doing what they are doing or why something is happening the way it is.
This isn’t about not trusting your partner but it’s about protecting yourself and knowing what you are potentially getting into. Sometimes the small things that we choose to overlook can turn into something big in the future. Not always, but sometimes.
Case in point #1
A close friend started dating a guy who constantly wore a ring on his ring finger. He was never seen without it and was constantly touching it during meals and dates. She didn’t ask him about it until a couple of months down the road when he reluctantly revealed that it was actually a wedding ring! And he had only just been through a divorce a couple of weeks before meeting my friend. Something he didn’t feel was important at all to tell her.
Case in point #2
A client was seeing this guy for a couple of months and was enjoying his company. They were already discussing plans of moving in together. They lived in different cities and whenever they met up, she noticed that he’d always avoid meeting for dinner or when they did, he would disappear for awhile and would be found whispering into his mobile phone in the bathroom. Whenever she asked him what was up, he’d be very shifty and tell her it was “nothing” and that he will be right there with her. Fast forward, they moved in together and she found out that he had a whole-ass family (wife, kids etc) on the side.
Instead of waltzing through dates and relationships with no care in the world, try treating relationships like a huge research project
Case #2 is one of the more extreme cases I’ve seen but it could have been prevented. My client talked about the “weird feeling” she had around him but dismissed the thought of asking him stuff she wanted to as she didn’t want to come across nosy.
Don’t be ashamed to be nosy or a busybody and ask away
I don’t mean go FB stalk him or snoop in his phone/journal, but ask him questions about himself. The stuff about him that piques your curiosity or the stuff that you want to know about him – as a partner or as an individual.
Be a researcher, ask questions, get to know them deep down. Talk about the inane stuff, the big stuff. This is what dating is for.
Form your hypotheses and alter your views as you get to know them better. Treat each sharing like an extra “data point” about this person that you are trying to get to know.
So many people act like dating is the be-all and end-all and are so afraid of finding out “bad” stuff about their partners that they just keep quiet even when their gut is telling them something else
As I always tell my clients – it’s best you find out that he’s a jerk or that he has a whole family out there now than when you are 5, 10, 20 years into the relationship, when you are already married with kids of your own.
The emotional investment would be way too much by then. Know whatever you need to and can about the person early on and decide if they are the ones you want to spend some time with. Develop a sense of curiosity about them as people.