Originally Posted by InfinitePossibility
My SO and I recently had a discussion about this which started on a car journey like this:
SO: Are you hungry?
IP: No. I ate lunch quite late because I knew we'd be travelling. Are you hungry?
SO: Yes. I could do with some food soon.
At the time, we were driving on a motorway and I knew from past discussions that my SO hates stopping at motorway service stations - I'd had lunch very late specifically so that I wouldn't need to stop and force him to go to one. I assumed that his conversation was an indication that we should stop as soon as possible after we'd gotten off the motorway and that's exactly what we did.
However, from my SO's point of view, the conversation was a direct request from him that we stop for food at one of the service stations on the motorway. He was very hungry and willing to put up with being in a service station if it meant he could eat.
When he asked me why I didn't stop, I pointed out that he hadn't actually asked me to stop. He felt very strongly that he had asked and that I should have known.
Interestingly, I know that my SO finds it hard to make direct requests of people because he doesn't like to be controlling. But I find that sort of communication incredibly controlling. Unless there is a reason not to be direct (like a language barrier), I find it preferable to know what it is that people actually want from me. I may or may not be able to or willing to do what it is that they want but I'd much rather know and I'd rather know if it is going to upset them if I don't do what they want.
Interesting example, and I can relate to this dynamic. You SO sounds similar to my husband that way. What's difficult for me to keep in mind is that any expression I make of what I might like will be taken as a demand. Placater that he is, I often find out after the fact that he's sacrificed his own wants for my own, merely because I happened to be the one to express them. That makes me uncomfortable and I feel like I'm unintentionally taking advantage of him. For his part, my husband finds it incredibly difficult to express desires or make requests, because for him they feel like demands.
I also find it interesting that your SO introduced the subject by asking if you were hungry, even though that was apparently irrelevant to whether or not he believed it was time to stop. That's also something my husband will do. He hopes that I am, so that he can stop for food under the pretext of stopping for me. I don't think they do it maliciously, I imagine the pretext is to themselves as much as to us.
In Husband's case, I'm pretty sure this is wrapped up in his mother issues. When she expressed desires, the WERE demands. No bones about it. She expected them to be carried out, STAT. His desires were considered inconsequential.
But he's made a lot of progress. I've at least gotten him to the point that when he does really really want something, he'll ask for it, at least eventually. First he hums and haws about whether it's worth the inconvenience to me, whether he can do without, whether he can get it a different way... And in cases where I've found out later that he had wanted something he didn't express, I make sure to emphasize that it would have been fine to tell me and if was within my powers, I probably wouldn't have minded.