Doubt versus Uncertainty

By: Jess Downey |

Photo credit: Lloyd Davis (Flickr)

Photo credit: Lloyd Davis (Flickr)

After writing my last post, I really started to think about doubt versus uncertainty and how hard it is to tell the difference between the two. I think it’s common to assume they’re the same or mix them up. But the fact is, they don’t really mean the same thing at all. Uncertainty is pretty normal when you’re first starting out. Doubt, on the other hand, is a viscous little weasel. It’s the thing that keeps us hanging on to something long after its expiration date. Here are a few ways to spot the difference between doubt and uncertainty.

Uncertainty is often based on their feelings. 

There are so many moving parts when you meet someone new. If you’re uncertain, you usually wonder a whole lot of things about what they’re thinking. Do they really like you? How can you tell? Will they stop liking you before you stop liking them?  If you’re in doubt, you question your feelings and what you think about them.

Uncertainty is more about the future and what could possibly develop. 

When I started dating my fiancé, I knew I liked him and I knew I wanted to see where things could go. I just wasn’t sure about how it would all work out and if we would have a future together. I also know that the prospect of a future with him gave me the warm fuzzies. With doubt, you tend to completely avoid thoughts about the future because you’re not even sure about the outlook for the next couple weeks.

Doubt makes you try to convince yourself that you feel one way or the other.

You might introduce the guy or the gal to your friends in hopes that they’ll be the ones to tell you how you should feel. If they really like your new interest, maybe you should too. Likewise, if they don’t maybe you shouldn’t. You also might find yourself giving it more time or taking a trip or doing something special and then seeing how that goes. There’s always some sort of situation you want to see through so you can tell how you feel.

Uncertainty usually happens at first. Doubt gradually creeps in over time.

No one is certain at first. I don’t believe people who say they knew the second they met a person. Sorry, but I don’t. But that’s a pretty important thing here. Uncertainty usually happens the second you meet them and start to like them. Doubt usually happens when you’ve decided you like them, but then suddenly you aren’t sure how much.

Uncertainty starts to go away with time. Doubt just gets stronger.

It’s pretty normal to question something in the beginning (like I said, I don’t believe people who don’t). But, after a little while, you get comfortable and that uncertainty starts to go away. Or it shapes into different uncertainties (like, when you’ll move in together or get engaged). Doubt on the other hand stays exactly the same and just gets stronger.