When you are a survivor of abuse or have other mental health issues, you don’t always know how to ask for what you need from other people. Maybe you were even actively discouraged from seeking emotional support from others as a child. Some of us come to the conclusion that others who love us will know instinctively what we need and want without being told, like a kind of telepathy. Survivors of that kind of upbringing will drop hints and act in certain ways to try to get people to take notice that they have a need to be fulfilled and they are tired of waiting patiently for the target to attend to the need.
They won’t ask directly for what they need because
1. They believe if the target truly loves them the target will know what they need
2. If they have to ask and be specific then the target does not love them if they cannot anticipate their wants/needs
3. The backlog of repressed emotion might be triggered into an intense outburst/breakdown. It is too frightening/dangerous to give their needs a voice. It is a really emotionally charged, hyper-sensitive - protect all all costs area. Rejection is intensely painful.
This behavior is also reinforced by popular fictional stories of master criminals, vampires, etc. who always seem to unerringly know what a person is thinking and what they will do before the person knows themselves. (i.e. Hannibal Lecter) Manipulation is romanticized, seen as a sign of interest and caring.
This is is unfair and frustrating to the person is the target of affection in a relationship. They are expected to have extrasensory powers and know what is going on the other person’s mind all the time. They are expected to be superhuman. And they become the target of anger (and even acts of revenge) when they are not.
It’s a leftover belief from early childhood, from when a child makes a clumsy effort to hide a misdeed and is swiftly found out: example secretly eating a candy bar without permission and getting caught because the parent spots smudges of chocolate on fingers and the corner of the child’s mouth. Or when a parent knows what their child likes and brings home a gift that is better than anything the child ever imagined.
Problem is that later, when the child gets older and more sophisticated and better at hiding things, the lessening of being ‘found out’ is interpreted as the parent loving the child less. The parent not being able to predict the child’s thoughts and behavior is seen as a lack on interest and caring. The belief is that parents should always know what their child needs without being told.
Most people have this underlying belief still hanging around to some degree ( i.e. a woman getting angry with her husband for not anticipating she would want to go out for dinner) but the degree in which it is present matters. When abuse has been involved, it can become the primary means of trying to having a relationship. It becomes a delusion. And the behavior that comes from acting on this delusion is toxic for everyone involved.
I’m saying this because I used to be really bad about doing it myself. - Sharon