I Feel the Most Loved When I’m Given the Benefit of the Doubt

a closeup of a plaque that says "trust"
Image Source by Terry Johnston

“Oh shit,” I say, realizing what I’ve just said sounds terrible. “I really didn’t mean that the way it sounded. I’m sorry.”

The pause between when I say that and when he speaks seems to last forever. But finally he breaks the silence. “It’s okay. I understand.”

It’s probably a minor thing to him. A quick exchange. Spoken and forgotten. But as we move on to talking about other things, I find myself still thinking about what he said and feeling so safe. So trusted. So loved.

Because he so easily let me off the hook for an honest mistake.

I Feel the Most Loved When I’m Given the Benefit of the Doubt

It’s a difficult thing for some people to understand. You might not get it, especially if you’ve always been surrounded by people who trust and support you just the way you are. Who take you at your word. Who usually give you the benefit of the doubt.

But if you’ve been in romantic relationships, friendships, or family dynamics where you were constantly tested, scrutinized, and judged — and especially if you’ve experienced two or all three of these — you will get it.

You’ll understand how powerful it can be to be given the benefit of the doubt. To not feel like you’re walking on eggshells all of the time, in constant danger of putting your relationship in peril just by saying a slightly wrong thing. Clumsily wording something. Making a risky joke that falls flat. Or doing something that seems safe beforehand but turns out not to be, because of some hidden sensitivity of theirs, like making the mistake of paying a compliment to a person they can’t stand.

It doesn’t even have to be words. A stray facial expression can doom you. An ill-timed sigh.

A million minor sins that can all be interpreted as signs of aggression or major betrayals.

You know what I mean if you’ve ever been with a person who was prone to jumping to those kinds of conclusions. If you’ve ever suffered the fallout that one minor misstep can produce. A long night of arguing that not even multiple heartfelt apologies can help stem. A barrage of angry mental or physical counterattacks that simply won’t stop, even as you do your best to placate their anger.

You’ll get how amazing it can feel to have the person you’re close to trust that you are acting in good faith. That you care about them. That you’re on the same team.

You’ll get how wonderful it can feel to be given the benefit of the doubt.

It’s frankly when I feel the most loved.

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Books by Page Turner:

A Geek’s Guide to Unicorn Ranching

Poly Land: My Brutally Honest Adventures in Polyamory 

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3 Comments

  1. My ex and I would make it way past the point of no return at times. One of us would realize that we’d made a mistake at some point in the conversation and say, “I made a mistake . Can we go back and try to have this conversation over again?” It is very powerful when done in good faith.

  2. Oh, I so get it. I quite haven’t learned to not be so damned defensive after a miss used word, a simple question even. It’s hard after so many years of confrontational questioning not to be ready to defend any attack at anytime over any stupid thing really. So I can understand how it would make you feel.

  3. Assuming not just the BEST of intentions, but also a LOVING intention is one of the best things we can extend to those around us. As you stated, being on the receiving end of the benefit of the doubt is very rewarding.

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