Mind Reading: The Unsung Hero of Romantic Misery
Lately, a friend told me a real story of an old couple, that he had read in the newspaper.
The two oldies had been married for over 50 years and every morning they had breakfast together.
They always shared one bun. He’d take the top and she the bottom.
For 50 years, the husband always took the top because he was convinced his wife wanted to eat the bottom. He secretly also wanted the bottom but he refrained from telling her. He saw it as a good deed.
For the same five decades, his wife always ate the bottom because she thought her husband always wanted to eat the top, even though in reality she preferred the top.
A simple sentence would have resolved the misunderstanding and given both partners a better result. But they didn’t talk about it for 50+ years!
Welcome to the bad shit crazy world of mind reading, where both parties always walk away unhappy.
What exactly is mind reading?
The phenomenon of mind reading occurs whenever you try to guess, assume, or predict what others think or how they might react.
Sure, we humans have the ability to size people up by reading body language and subconsciously sensing micro-cues like pupil dilation. However, these abilities can trick us into false assumptions when mixed with insecurities, shame and anxiety.
Maybe some of the following mind reading examples sound familiar to you:
- Not telling a woman about your nerdy hobbies because you fear she’ll think they are uncool.
- Avoiding to touch others because you think it invades their personal space.
- Not starting conversations with women on the street because you assume it interferes with their busy day.
- Not writing her back immediately, even though you want to, because she might view it as needy.
- Looking away as soon as she sees you because you worry she might think you are a stalker.
- Not telling a woman, who you aren’t interested in, a compliment because you don’t want her to think you are attracted to her.
- Not asking the person behind you on a flight if they’d be cool with you reclining your seat because you don’t want to appear impolite.
- When hosting friends you don’t send them home when you get tired because you want to be seen as a good host.
- Not telling her during sex that something is uncomfortable or painful to you because you don’t want to ruin her experience.
- Playing it cool because you believe she’ll find you more attractive that way (think Kevin James in Hitch).
- Not telling her about your sexual desires because you think she might find them weird.
Many of these examples sound familiar to me because I was guilty of mind reading myself.
That’s why I know from personal experience that the main difference between a man who is romantically successful and one who is unsuccessful is their tendency to mind read – or not.
I went through the process of reducing my own mind reading and luckily emerged a more attractive man. But it almost broke me in the process.
Mind reading is a self-made invisible hell
Mind reading is quite insidious because most people never know they do it and even if, one wouldn’t think it’s so devastating.
Here are some classic symptoms of mind reading:
- Do you sometimes get nervous in social situations for seemingly no reason?
- Do you feel like some women are in a different league than you?
- Do you always try to treat others with the utmost respect but never get any respect back?
- Do you sometimes end up in the friend zone?
- Do you struggle to make decisions when you are with others?
You just got a little sneak peek into the results of mind reading. But I think another story will make its effects – especially in dating – even clearer.
A real-life story of how mind reading can screw with your love life
A while back, a friend told me he was interested in a woman he knew from disc golf (that’s a sport).
The two of them got along great and always hung out after tournaments to have a beer and chat. They shared a lot of laughs and, to an outside observer, it was clear they were into each other.
But my friend never did anything more because he thought it would make things awkward at disc golf tournaments and she probably wasn’t interested anyway.
What he really wanted was clear: He wanted to tell her he liked her, have a romantic date with her and take it to the next level.
Too bad he never told her.
Too bad, because she ended up with a different guy – that she met through disc golf.
Now, every time my friend plays a tournament he gets the emotional equivalent of a gut punch when he sees them together.
He’s still friendly when he meets her. And she still has no clue he was interested in her.
What’s going to happen if my friend continues on this path…
What do you think is going to happen to my friend if he never becomes aware of the monkey on his back that is mind reading and subsequently never does anything about it?
For starters, he is going to ask himself why the hell no one wants him romantically even though everyone seems to like him.
In search of an answer, he’ll scan every nook and cranny of his body as well as his personality in search of why women don’t want him.
And in all likelihood, he’s gonna find something like an ugly toe, or approaching baldness, or patchy beard growth and will declare it the reason women aren’t into him.
Then he’s going to hate himself for being born that way.
His brain will whisper, “Other guys don’t have these issues. Why is the world so unfair?”
Eventually, after much suffering, he’ll come to terms with the heavy fate that he was born faulty and no one will ever love him for who he is.
And so the story often goes on until any hope and self-love have been washed away.
Isn’t it crazy how far one can go down the rabbit hole because of this mostly unknown phenomenon?
I didn’t tell the story to put any blame on my friend. He is not the only mind reader out there by a longshot, and as stated earlier, I used to be a AAA-rated mind reader myself.
How to stop mind reading
Luckily, ending the bad habit of mind reading is simple, free, and you can get started with it immediately.
All you have to do is develop a new habit of taking responsibility for your emotions by vulnerably stating what you want. And that starts by asking yourself, “What do I want?”
Don’t worry, you won’t turn into an egotistical asshole from this. On the opposite, everyone you interact with will appreciate it: Women will think you are mature and sexy. You’ll get along better with your family than ever before. And your friends will respect you ten times more.
This is the process of how you can reduce mind reading:
- Catch yourself whenever you are about to mind read.
- Ask yourself, “What do I want?” This will get you into the habit of having an emotional opinion.
- Tell the answer immediately and unapologetically to others.
I’ll give you some examples of how the shift from mind reader to emotionally mature and assertive man works in practice.
|Mind Reader||Cured Mind Reader|
|Situation||A guy is saying goodbye to a woman he just had a great date with.||A guy is saying goodbye to a woman he just had a great date with.|
|What he wants||To see her again. Going on another date together.||To see her again. Going on another date together.|
|What he thinks||Assumes she might not want to see him again.||Assumes she might not want to see him again but upon catching that thought immediately reminds himself that he can’t know that and instead should just state what he wants.|
|What he says||“It was really nice talking to you. Maybe I’ll see you around sometime.”||“I know we haven’t even really finished this date yet, but what are you doing on Thursday? I’d love to hang out some more and talk over drinks. This little place with the fanciest most creative cocktails you’ve ever seen just opened up in the area I live in.”|
|Her reaction||Thinks he doesn’t want to see her again and plays it cool as well even though she’d love another date.||Is excited he wants to see her again and agrees to go out with him again.|
Maybe another non-dating example to hit the point home.
|Mind Reader||Cured Mind Reader|
|Situation||A guy has a few friends over and they trying to decide what to do next.||A guy has a few friends over and they trying to decide what to do next.|
|What he wants||Go to a VR cafe and dive into the virtual reality alongside some baked goods.||Go to a VR cafe and dive into the virtual reality alongside some baked goods.|
|What he thinks||Assumes his friends aren’t in the mood to go to the VR cafe.||Assumes his friends aren’t in the mood to go to the VR cafe but upon catching that thought immediately reminds himself that he can’t know that and instead should just state what he wants.|
|What he says||“What are you guys in the mood for? Maybe the new VR cafe? But I’m open to anything. We can stay here as well.”||“I walked by a Virtual Reality cafe on my way home, today. I’ve never tried VR goggles but everyone keeps telling me it’s sick. How about we get some baked goods and check it out?”|
|Their reaction||Can’t decide on anything and just stay home.||Welcome his proposal with open arms because finally someone wants to be more active and even comes up with an interesting activity, which is valuable to the whole group. As a result they respect him more.|
We have come to the end of this article and I sincerely hope I raised some awareness for how detrimental the habit of mind reading can become.
Remember: Only when you clearly state what YOU want without any considerations of what you think others want to hear, only then will you feel like you are living true to yourself, only then will others feel comfortable around you, only then will you be able to lead, and only then will others be able to state what they want without playing the same game.
Life feels just so much simpler as soon as you let go of the constant guesswork. Give it a try!