Theory of Mind: Case Study

September 12, 2008

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.