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When I dated guys in my 20s, I did the classic girl thing all guys hate: I made them guess what I wanted.

I wanted to know they loved me and were paying attention to me. So I didn’t give them details about gifts I wanted or what I expected from them. I figured if they knew me and loved me, they should just know.


It turned out all my boyfriends were doing other things with their lives besides guessing what I wanted for Christmas, or if Wednesday or Thursday was a better day to surprise me with flowers. They had jobs and families and friends, bills and cars and in general, a life besides me. And that was a good thing.

Making people guess what you want assumes people aren’t doing anything else besides thinking of you. That’s selfish, isn’t it?

It comes from a genuine human need to be wanted, noticed and appreciated. The need isn’t bad, but it’s how we get our needs met that becomes distasteful and illegitimate. This type of attention-wrangling turns people off at worst, or manipulates them into the role of the magician who can solve our problems when they certainly don’t have these powers. 

In fact, the opposite is true: most people suck at mind-reading.

The tension worsens when the disappointed person responds with anger or frustration to their friends and family who guess their needs wrong, or who refuse to play the games. Typically the silent treatment ensues, or the person withholds affection until the other person coalesces to their silent demands.

You might look like Elizabeth Taylor when you’re giving the silent treatment, but it’s still not pretty. [click photo for credit]


Don’t get your needs met that way. Tell people what you want or need from them.

I learned from my dating mistakes, thankfully, and when I started dating Josh, I told him plainly I would not be one of those girls who made him guess. I would tell him what I wanted. And so far, that’s worked pretty well.

It’s not terribly romantic to say, “I like when you bring flowers home, and I wish you would do it more,” but guess what else isn’t romantic or lovely? Getting angry when our partners, friends and family fail to meet our unspoken expectations.

You can’t foster genuine relationships by withholding information, drawing people in with vagueries and then forcing them to ask or wonder aloud what is wrong. It’s a manipulative relationship-killer.

I am not talking to specific people here, but if this speaks to you, then I am talking to you.

Don’t make people guess what you want. Gather your courage, assume the best about the people in your life. And then tell them plainly what you need.

What’s your best advice for being honest about what you need? Tell me in the comments below.

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