It typically starts slowly, without your even noticing. You’re going through your daily routine, and you notice your partner hasn’t been picking up his socks lately, or she keeps leaving the lid off the sugar jar in the mornings after her coffee. Then it’s the thing he forgot at the store, which happened to be the one thing you really needed. Or she completely forgets about your date night, and winds up going out with the girls instead. Over time, you start forming beliefs about your partner based on these behaviors: He’s lazy…she just doesn’t care.
And then you notice the damn socks and the sugar lid again!
What may be happening is a psychological phenomenon known as confirmation bias. It means we have the tendency to look for evidence in the world to confirm our beliefs about things, instead of looking for contrary evidence to test our beliefs. Thus, if you believe your partner is lazy or doesn’t care, you will subconsciously look for evidence throughout the day to support your beliefs.
For instance, in the case of the guy who leaves his socks on the floor and may have a memory issue with the shopping list, you might be noticing those things without really noticing other behaviors that contradict your conclusions that he’s lazy — him walking the dog every morning before waking you up, or always going to the store for you because he knows you’re too tired or the fact that he thought better to get your mom a gift certificate for her favorite Italian restaurant for her birthday instead of sending the stripper. For the lid leaver and absent-minded date-breaker, you might not notice that she makes the coffee for you every morning without fail and that while she broke your date night, she surprised you twice in the last month by sending the kids to her mom’s house for the weekend so you could have uninterrupted alone time.
So, what negative beliefs are you confirming? If you have some negative beliefs about your partner, we invite you to take this month’s relationship challenge. Are you ready?
- First, write down any negative beliefs you have about your partner.
- Next, challenge yourself (really challenge yourself!) to look for evidence or proof that disproves or contradicts your negative beliefs. This helps you test your beliefs about your partner.
- Finally, when you find proof that disproves your beliefs, let them know you noticed the good stuff they are doing. Acknowledge and thank them!
If you have difficulty with this challenge or feel your negative beliefs about your partner are true and you need help, please feel free to contact us.