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Why do we assume that the next one, the new one, will be like the last one? Why do we think that the way the last person did things will be the way the next person will do things? I think, more often than not, we don’t even know we do hold these expectations, but instead they just tend to develop naturally. We think that if the last girl (or guy) treated me like this, or said these things when she (or he) wanted this, the next relationship will have the same “rules” and “protocols.”

Let’s be honest — we all make assumptions, even judgments, about how we expect or assume a relationship will go. It’s human nature. But to assume the new person will act, speak, and talk like the last person you had a  relationship with, isn’t fair to the new person and your relationship with them. It says, in essence, they’re just like everyone else, when in reality, nothing may be further from the truth. They may be nothing like the people you’ve been with in the past. If that’s true, why would you treat them as if they are? It’s simple: It’s hard to break habits. Perhaps even harder to break history.

We’ve developed the habits of expecting people to act a certain way. For example, if I come over to your house, you may request that I remove my shoes, and I’ll oblige. But for me to assume that, because I left my shoes on at the last person’s house, that I can leave them on at your house, isn’t fair to you. Beyond that, it’s just rude. Different houses are just that — different — and the rules of the house, as the owner dictates, are different as well. How am I supposed to know if I should take my shoes off or not? Ask. Don’t assume. Treat each house as new, and unless you know the rules beforehand, ask the owner of the proper protocol.

Yet there’s a problem with the shoe analogy — you can’t always ask a person beforehand how they’ll respond to a given situation. They may simply not know. Even if they did know, you might not be able to think of all the possible situations to ask about. But, what we can take away from the analogy is this: People are different. The way they react and respond to certain situations may follow a general pattern or trend, but you can’t always assume that. Treat each person as unique and special.

Let me give you a more concrete example. Say you meet a new guy or girl. You start having good conversation with them and it’s clearly being enjoyed by both parties. You see that there’s a mutual attraction developing. But the one thing that you notice is that they are very complimentary of you — always giving accolades and words of encouragement. Even more than the other people you’ve been in relationships with, especially at this stage — still getting to know one another and exploring the possibility of having something more — of the relationship. Now, there’s definitely nothing wrong with that — at all — but if it’s not something you’re used to experiencing at that phase in a relationship, it can be a little confusing. But you are the one that has made the error in judgment and intention, not them. They’re just doing what they always do, but you’ve assumed, in this case incorrectly, that they’ll begin to be affirming and encouraging at the same time that your other relationships have. So your response to them isn’t fair to them because they have actually done nothing wrong, it’s been your response, and your assumptions, your expectations, that lead to that response that were wrong.

Whenever you enter into a new relationship, remember that, while there are general trends and sometimes typical behaviors, at the end of the day, no two people are alike. Period. And if no two people are alike, why would you treat two, three, or even six people like they are the same?

[Written by Stuart McDonald for Elev8.com. For more from Stuart, check out his personal blog and follow him on Twitter]

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