What You Don’t Know

What You Don’t KnowIn school, it was helpful to give the impression you knew a bit more than you really did. The same thing is true for adults in the workplace. After all, no one wants to draw attention by admitting they have no idea what that acronym stands for when everyone else is nodding like they get the manager’s point.

Projecting confidence in a school or at the office is a smart move, but when we carry that over to our relationships, bad things can happen. Here’s how.

One of the keys to a healthy relationship is deep understanding. The better you understand yourself and your partner, the easier it is to sidestep problems and cultivate intimacy. But you can’t grow in understanding if you aren’t willing to admit there are things you don’t know.

Take Karen as an example. Her boyfriend sees his ex-wife fairly often. He shares joint custody of his 12-year-old son. While Karen is not crazy about him seeing his ex, she knows it’s unavoidable. But from Karen’s point of view, her boyfriend goes above and beyond what the child support agreement requires by paying for some of his ex’s personal expenses. She doesn’t get that, and she doesn’t like it.

But she doesn’t say anything about it, either. Instead, she acts like it’s perfectly understandable.

And guess what? Nothing changes.

Even worse, every time her boyfriend goes over to his ex’s place, Karen feels a little less comfortable. If her relationship is going to get over this hurdle, she’s going to have to start by acknowledging what she doesn’t understand.

That’s where it starts.

We all have things in our relationships we don’t understand. Try this exercise. Sit alone in your room and jot down a word or phrase for every area of your relationship you find confusing.

Be honest.

You’re the only person who will ever see this list. There’s no need for ego or pride. Freely admit what you don’t know.

When you’re done with your list, look it over. Can you think of any questions that could eliminate some of the confusion? What conversations might improve your understanding? And how will it feel to cross off some of the mysteries on your list?

The beauty of this simple exercise is that it creates clarity. You’ll identify the potential obstacles before they have a chance to become an actual problem in your relationship.

Pierre Corneille said, “Danger breeds best on too much confidence.” Boy, is that true in love.

The sooner you candidly admit what you don’t know, the sooner you can go after the information you’re missing. That information will put you on a course to better understanding and a closer bond with the person you love.

 


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5 thoughts on “What You Don’t Know

  1. Pamela said:

    Hi James, There are so many missing links and so much confusion in my relationship that I quite frankly don’t know where to start. First of all I cannot even begin to see what he saw in this woman in the first place. I don’t understand why he threw away what we had that was such a special bond. More than anything, I don’t understand why he has stayed with her for so long! The only conclusion that I logically come up with for all these points is that he is and has always been crazy in love with her. Now, if I want to use intuition, it tells me that he has always and still does love and adore what we shared. Then my head tells me to get real and look at all the scientific facts. How can I get to the heart of a man who has blocked me and yet seems to be sending me a message of “YES”!
    How can I find out what is really in his heart without making a fool of myself or winding up in jail? This situation is breaking my heart and driving me insane! Should I just give up or should I be patient and pray?????? Is he just playing with me or is he trying to be with me?
    Confused,
    Pamela

    • James Bauer said:

      Pamela. Usually, when a person is trying to be with you, it’s not so confusing.

      That said, I advise you don’t try to make a decision right now because you don’t have a clear feeling that one direction or another is the right one. Wait for that feeling. Don’t put your life on hold while you wait, but just don’t make a decision right now. You may be surprised at how events bring clarity and make the right choice more obvious when you give it time.

      James

  2. Pamela said:

    Hi James. Thank you for your reply. I just read the latest email regarding agendas. Why is it hard for a man to think that my agenda would simply be finally having a deep and passionate connection with someone who I have spent my entire life loving. I jokingly tell friends that I have spent my entire life loving a man who never loved me back. Really sad, huh. If he only knew, my heart is so filled with longing and hope to finally have a chance to have that amazing and beautiful relationship. With me, I don’t take things like that lightly. I just never share my deepest and most private thoughts with anyone until the moment is right with the right individual. I am praying every day for God’s will and hoping that it is in my favor and not hers. I love him more than life itself James! I guess if God wants me to have him, then it will happen. Otherwise, I will just have to know that it was not meant to be. If that is the case, the pain will be great, but I only want him if he really wants me. It is as simple as that. I think that if we are finally together, there will be an explosion in the sky! Trying to stay positive James. Thank you. Pam

  3. Valerie Ferrari said:

    Not to minimize your pain. but it seems that unrequited love is often the path of those who are afraid to love. As long as you can convince yourself that there’s hope where there isn’t any. you don’t have to go forward. Are you sure that you have any basis whatever to think there is hope here, or is your suffering an excuse to not pursue other more real possibilities? There is more than one love out there.

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