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Don’t Assume the Worst

Ever learned a lesson the hard way? As in you felt really foolish and childish about it?

She was my best friend from college, and we both moved to Colorado Springs after we graduated. We had 12 years of friendship between us, five of those as roommates. She was the only friend in Colorado who had known me since college. The kind of friend whose parents you invite to your wedding. The loyal friend. She’s the one I call when I have an emergency because I know she’ll be there.

So it’s mystifying to me why all of that went out the window because of one little text message. I had texted her about confirming a coffee date after making tentative plans the weekend before. A few days went by, and I didn’t hear from her. Not typical, but not completely unusual, either.

So I texted her again, and still no response.

Now this is when things start to go downhill very quickly, at least in my mind. Not hearing back from one of my besties found me going to worst-case scenario. All of a sudden I’m thinking crazy thoughts: Why didn’t she text me back? Does she not want to be my friend anymore? Am I too needy? Have I become Clingy Friend? Did I do or say something to offend her? Is she throwing away 12 years of friendship?

Now, considering she was one of my best friends, you’d think I would have given her the benefit of the doubt. Instead, my head started thinking completely irrational thoughts. Instead of believing the best, I assumed the worst. Instead of trusting her and believing there was a good reason why I hadn’t heard back from her, I made it all about me. What I had done wrong. Why she didn’t want to be friends with me.

The antidote to a downward thought spiral such as this is to take notes from couples and friends who have gone the distance in weathering storms with relationships intact. In short, they’ve learned what to put in the gap between expectation and reality. Instead of assuming the worst (like I did), they believe the best.

Isn’t this just a good principle to live by in general? To choose to trust and offer grace instead of making the other person defensive? Every relationship, and I mean every relationship, experiences that gap between expectation and reality. The problem isn’t the gap — the problem is how we react to the gap.

Back to my friend. It turns out her grandma had passed away suddenly, and in the chaos of arranging flights and missing work and grieving this sudden loss, my text got lost in the shuffle. Obviously there were more important things going on that week than my silly little text. When she told me that, I felt awful. I was embarrassed about my own thoughts and why I hadn’t given her, and our friendship, the benefit of the doubt.

Have you ever been in a similar situation? If you’re dating or married, have you seen this idea play out in your relationship?

Copyright 2012 Ashley Boyer Hendley. All rights reserved.  

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