So yesterday I learned a lesson.
At our last party, Mike and another girl were semi-flirting and talking about setting up rules for a sexy party game for a small group. It never got past the theoretical “this would be fun” stage at the time, and I had pretty much forgotten about it. Then, yesterday, I was at a social event with friends and a guy who is sort of involved with that girl turned to me and asked me a question about when it would happen or what it would be or something. I was confused because I hadn’t heard anything about it for a couple of weeks. Then he told me that the girl had mentioned to him that she and Mike had been emailing each other about it. He was asking for details because he assumed that Mike had told me and I would know things about it.
Well, I was pretty startled and when I went home I was upset. Why hadn’t Mike told me about this? I felt betrayed and nervous that Mike had been keeping secrets. It seemed so uncharacteristic of him that I felt very shaken. Basically I spent the rest of the night worrying.
Eventually Mike got home. He could immediately tell that I was upset and he asked me what was wrong. I explained what I had heard and asked if it was true. I can’t remember exactly how he acted, if he was amused or hurt or what, but he immediately explained that he had sent her a one-sentence message to the effect of “We should make this a thing” and she responded “Absolutely!” and that was about it. He hadn’t thought to tell me about it yet because there was nothing to tell. When he said that I was relieved, but I immediately realized how stupid I had been, so it took me a few minutes to actually cheer up.
I’ve been thinking about it since then, and I know I have no one but myself to blame. Mike didn’t do anything wrong. Our friend wasn’t trying to cause trouble, he just assumed he was bringing up things I already knew, but the extent of the plans had become muddled in translation. I was the one who assumed things were worse than they were. I knew that keeping secrets from me would be uncharacteristic of Mike. If I had just realized that I didn’t know the whole story and resolved not to worry about it until I found out if there was anything to worry about, my evening would have been a lot more pleasant.
I know this story doesn’t paint me in the best light, and I’m honestly pretty ashamed about it. But I’m sharing it because I think it carries some important points. For one thing, if someone has always been trustworthy in the past, don’t jump to assume that they are breaking your trust without solid evidence. Furthermore, keeping speculation to a minimum and practicing calm, open communication can prevent so much conflict and stress.
I’m lucky that Mike was so understanding about it and that he wasn’t offended. He knew that my anxiety jumped in and took over. In face, when I think about it in the cold light of day, even the worst case scenario that I was thinking of last night was that he was planning a sex party, which I would certainly be attending, without notifying me early enough. Even my anxiety-nightmare was still not the end of the world. I’m also lucky that it only took such a minor incident to remind me of what my journalism professors used to love telling me: When you assume, you make an ass out of you and me.