I used to have a bad habit. I assumed the worst of whoever I was dating. I don’t know when it started or why, but it left me with egg on my face more than once. I never gave them the benefit of the doubt.
Allow me to give you two beautiful examples of how well things turned out with out the benefit of the doubt:
I had been on two dates with a kind Argentinian. We had a dinner date planned; the day came and went with out a text or call. At 11 pm I sent a message saying how I expected a man of his age to be mature enough to cancel a date. The next morning he texted an explanation. He had taken allergy medicine early in the afternoon and it knocked him out. I didn’t hear from him again.
I had been dating a guy for a little over a month. He was going to pick me up for Tea around 5. I was ready and waiting, for an hour. I called. He didn’t pick up. I sent an AMAZING text explaining his immaturity, selfishness and cowardly attitude. In hindsight, I see my reaction should have been, “Are you ok? I’m worried”. An hour after my text he called me. He had fallen asleep on the couch at his sister’s house. I didn’t hear from him again.
I saw the pattern clearly and found ways to change my mindset. Now, I give the benefit of the doubt:
I wait to talk to my partner so that I can understand his actions.
I accept that his actions will not always be what I want, because he is not me.
3. Give Space
If I am upset, I do not react in that moment. I give myself time and space to calm down. I realize other perspectives are correct too, and I want to hear them so I can understand.
4.Speak in love
If I decide I need to say something, which is virtually every time something bothers me, I do not cast blame. I say how I feel and why. Then listen. I temper my reaction with love
I gave the benefit of the doubt and it worked!
My boyfriend was out of town visiting friends, and he told me he would call me in the evening. I wanted to go to bed early so I called him at 9pm. He did not pick up the phone, nor did he call me back before I went to bed. I woke up around 11 pm feeling angry and resentful. I reminded myself that he loved me and would not ignore me, so I sent a text message asking if he would let me know that he was ok. When I woke up the next morning I had a message saying that he had left his phone in his friends car and had spent the night trying to find the keys.
My boyfriend and I are polar opposites. We haven’t been dating long. However, during our short time together, I have seen the worst of myself crawl out from the pits of selfishness, ready to devour him with a stream of fiery words. But I practiced these steps, and amazingly, we are both still alive, still in love and still willing to work with our differences to grow into something strong together.
It’s amazing what patience and giving the benefit of the doubt will cause to grow in yourself and in other people.
What do you think? What do you do when you feel slighted? And how do you practice giving the benefit of the doubt?