The Art of Jumping to Conclusions

Written by Molly Schlieff

We all do it – we all make quick decisions without hearing the whole story.  It’s our human nature; we had to make these rapid pivots to stay alive as cave dwellers.  Imagine yourself as a Neanderthal – there’s a giant snake in front of you, blocking the entrance to your home.  Unfortunately for the snake, you don’t have time to research if it is poisonous or not, you just have to smash it with a rock so you can protect yourself and your family back in your cave.

We still do this, but instead of a giant snake in front of the entrance to our home, it’s the garbage over-spilling in the kitchen, the same garbage your partner promised to pitch out last night.  She knew you asked her to do it, since you did it the last two times.  She must have decided it wasn’t a priority to take out last night.  This thought is appalling, what did she do all last night?  Watch documentaries about people with weird addictions?  That’s more important than committing to your partnership?

Breathe.

Remember?  We all do this, in one form or another.  The other night, my partner and I decided to go see a show.  I was visiting my grandmother and he wanted to see the opening band, so we decided to meet inside the crowded bar (retrospectively, probably not the best idea).  I show up about an hour after doors open, which is typically around when the opening band is wrapping up.  As I walk into the bar, I am met with a wall of bodies.  Crap.  How am I going to find him in this mess?  I shoot him a quick text.

“I’m here, where are you?”

I stare at my phone for a minute, waiting for a response – nothing.  Pushing past the barricade of excited fans, I get elbowed in the side.  Great.  Now I’m irritated.  I call him, no use in waiting for him to check his phone – at least if I call him, he’ll feel it in his pocket.

No answer.

Well what the heck.  He knew I was showing up after the opening act.  He knew we were meeting in the bar.  Why isn’t he checking his phone?  Maybe he’s in the bathroom.

I walk over to the bathroom area to cool off and wait some more, sending him a second text.

“It’s been ten minutes.  Seriously, where are you?”

Two more minutes go by, nothing.  My frustration levels are rising exponentially.  I decide to walk to the bar to get a drink while I wait for his inconsiderate face to look at his phone.

As I elbow my way to the bar, I see him chatting with three other people.  Smiling, laughing, enjoying his time.  All while I am flustered that I have just spent twenty minutes of my time searching for this man – and he forgot about me.

I swim over to him, my heart rate increasing every set of shoulders I push past.  He sees me and smiles.  I don’t.

“Have you met my girlfriend, Molly?” he says to the crowd.  I stare at him, a million thoughts racing through my head.  These three individuals, whom I have never met, are more important than us attending this show together?

Once we have a minute to ourselves he asks if I’m upset.  I take a breath, “I’ve been walking around, trying to find you, for twenty minutes.  Why did you forget about me?”

Needless to say, the conclusion I jumped to didn’t make for a good time the rest of the show.  His intent wasn’t malicious.  He wasn’t choosing these nice, random people over me.  The show was about us, it always had been, but he lost track of the time – didn’t realize that it had already been an hour and I was showing up at the bar while he was distracted.

Like I said before, we all jump to conclusions in our own way, in different forms, at different events in our lives.  So how can we avoid this negative, unnecessary process to keep the peace in our relationship?

Well, it comes from within us.  It’s our instinct to make that jump, to smash that snake with a rock.  Instinct is hard to combat – so give yourself a break and give your partner a break if they make the same mistake.

Remember these small things:

  • Assume the best intent of your partner. There’s a reason you two are in a relationship.  You know you aren’t dating a spiteful person.
  • Assess the situation. Are you at a crowded bar where your partner is distracted?  Did your partner get a migraine right after you went to bed, and then couldn’t take out the trash?  Life can and will throw curveballs at us.
  • Remember, instinct is hard to break free from.  We are humans.  If your partner paints this masterpiece of negativity after jumping to a conclusion, remember that we all make mistakes.  Spare yourself and your partner a fight.

Don’t let this instinct ruin your morning because you wind up having to take the trash out again.  Don’t let it ruin the concert you are attending.  Take time to see the situation from multiple sides, that conclusion you are jumping to isn’t the only story.  And lastly, remember your partner isn’t out to get you.  This is a journey you are on together, if they make something more difficult for you, they are making it more difficult for themselves as well!

So while jumping to conclusions is a crafted art in my mind, it may be more of a masterpiece to not make that leap.

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