Theory of Mind: Case Study

I will share some details of an interaction I had with Dave to illustrate Theory of Mind (ToM) issues mentioned in my last post.

I am not great at making decisions and would prefer the guy figure out ideas of what to do.  Most of the time, I’m flexible.  Sometimes, however, I am in the mood to do something specific.  For example, two weeks ago, I told Dave I wanted to go to a coffee shop to mooch some wifi and then hang out with him at his place afterwards.  He had a better idea.  He said, how about we go get coffee and talk and then you can use the internet at my house afterwards.  Not exactly what I had in mind, but that worked. 

On the way to the coffee shop we had mentioned, Dave keeps driving, then says he hopes I don’t mind getting something to eat with him first.  Okay, once again, not what I had in mind, but I continue to flex my flexibility muscle (it’s in my brain somewhere) and go along with it.  We go to a restaurant he likes and proceed to sit in the back, where it was dark and gloomy.  I told him this was not going to give me my “cafe fix” and he said they have coffee.  All along, I had been thinking about ambiance and a window view, not caffeine.  He was totally missing the point.

On the way back, we were getting near the cafe we originally discussed.  I was really curious to see if he would go there, so I didn’t remind him.  This was not a trap; it was an experiment.  When he kept driving, I didn’t hold it against him, but casually brought it up after we got back to his place.  His response was that I should have told him I wanted to go to the cafe.  I know what he meant – I was supposed to ‘remind’ him.  For me, that was irritating because I’d already told him twice.  How many times did I need to tell him?

As I said in the last post, hopefully he will learn to listen to (and remember!) what I say instead of guessing what I want, which is really easy to assume is the same thing that he wants…in this case, to go to his house.  Fortunately (or not?), I recognize this “deficit” in him as well as in me.  He tends to get completely immersed in his own perspective and I tend to completely completely accomodate other peoples perspectives to the detriment of my own.  We both have work to do.  We are equally contributing to this imbalance in our relationship.

2 Responses to Theory of Mind: Case Study

  1. I like that you view that situation as an experiment. That is a very healthy way to view it, as an unemotional outside observer gathering information to see if Dave is going to make the cut long term.

    I had a college boyfriend who BLEW MY MIND when he remembered an offhand remark I made about wanting a crystal pendent necklace. When I opened the Christmas gift and saw the necklace I was dumbfounded; I hadn’t remembered telling him so it was like he read my mind.

    I see the importance of paying attention, especially for a personality like Dave’s that is inward focused. It is unhealthy to go to extremes with this, of hoping that guys will remember every remote detail that you ever said, or be so intuitive our desires are met without having to verbally speak them, but in situations like yours… where you expressly stated exactly what you wanted the day of… and he just wasn’t listening… well that could be trouble.

    I would vote that you could continue the experiment to see if he listens better in the future, but that he gets less flexibility from you. I can see you uttering comments of, “Remember? I said I wanted to do [whatever]. Let’s go do that now.”


  2. cindydating says:

    I’ve finally begun to master the art of objective observation in my romantic life…at the age of 36!

    The thoughtful gift is a great example of “what it looks like” when someone is a good listener…and they remember what you say…and take action.

    I agree that I need to be less flexible. I’ve already accomodated him in so many little ways that I am already growing resentful when I don’t feel he is making the same effort.

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