Have you ever wondered what a date was thinking when he said or did something not expected? I have. With various guys.
- My date said, “I hate to leave. I really wish I could stay with you longer.” Then he sent a “Have a nice life” email a day later.
- He flirted with me online, wanting to take me to lunch, even knowing we had a friend in common and she would, no doubt, tell me he was married.
- We hadn’t talked in months, yet he thought he could pick up where he’d left off with me.
- After sleeping over once, he said he’d like some drawer and closet space to leave a few things for next time.
- On a second encounter, I’d invited him over for coffee after a nearby evening meeting he attended. He brought his shaving kit, with the assumption he’d be staying over.
- After a nice coffee together, my date didn’t walk me to my car.
I’ve frequently heard myself ask, “What was he thinking?” when some behavior didn’t match my expectation of normal. It’s easy to get judgmental about behaviors that are different than you think are proper.
A marriage counselor taught me a different approach years ago. While I admit I don’t engage in this inquiry 100%, I use it more than I used to.
The approach is to be “in wonder” about the behavior.
So instead of making him wrong for getting too chummy too fast, be curious. “I wonder what would make him think it was okay to put his hand on my knee within the first 10 minutes of our meeting?” When you engage in such questioning, you explore options, rather than making assumptions. Ideally, if you are close enough and can ask without sounding judgmental or irritated, get his take on the situation.
When my ex and I would engage in being “in wonder,” we typically saw that our assumptions were wrong. When I thought he purposefully blew off my requests, the truth was he’d forget I’d asked if it wasn’t written down. So instead of being affronted, I could help him manage his memory loss by making sure requests were in writing. When he felt I was rude for interrupting him when telling me a story, by being in wonder he learned that I thought he was done sharing, so I jumped in. We worked on a signal to show he was done expressing a thought.
I know it can be hard to discuss things like this when with a new guy. However, that doesn’t prevent your from exercising your “wonder” muscle. You can still be curious about any bothersome behavior and think of possible other interpretations, rather than a judgmental one.
So instead of thinking the guy who didn’t want to leave was lying, by being in wonder I could see that another alternative was he felt that way in the moment, but then changed his mind upon a day’s reflection.
See if you can think of some recent date’s curious behavior and share how you can be “in wonder” about it if you’d been judgmental.