With it being singles awareness day, I thought what better way to spend the day than torturing myself with relationship goals… If you are as bitter and alone as myself then you are more than likely curious of what constitutes a successful relationship.

In order to maximize your chances of being in a successful relationship you should not put your significant other on a pedestal and idealize them to being this perfect being. You should acknowledge their weaknesses and flaws early on in the relationship and learn how to tolerate them, as well as you should be sure that their positive attributes out weigh their negative attributes. All in all you should go into a relationship with realistic expectations and basically keep your standards low. Which sounds like the right mentality, however, some studies suggest otherwise.

Idealizing your partner can actually work, and is riddled with its own relationship benefits. By idealizing your significant other you can actually strengthen the sense of them being “the one”, which lessens the possibility of doubt within the relationship.

Idealizing, as well as projecting traits of your ideal partner and yourself, can be beneficial in a relationship as well. Projecting ideal traits on your partner can cause positive illusions where begin to see those traits in your significant other. As well as projecting your own self image can lessen the likelihood of personality incompatibilities, because you see aspects of yourself within you partner, causing the positive illusion that you may have more in common than you actually do.

Looking at a study conducted by Sandra Murray and her colleagues in 1999, they took a large group of married and dating couples and had then describe their self-perception, their perception of their significant other and their ideal partner, as well as virtues and faults of their current partner.

The findings in the study correlated embellished template of their ideal partner to a very positive perception of their current partner, providing far more virtues than faults. The same out come was associated with a high levels of self-perception as well. So how you see yourself and your ideal partner has a huge impact on how you perceive your current partner.

Further findings suggest that people who tend to idealize their partner are more optimistic, resulting in less conflict within the relationship and when negative events do occur they do not perceive such events as threatening to the relationship. Causing more of a sense of stability and increasing the overall well-being of the relationship.

But how long can this last? More than likely your significant other will fall short and not meet your standards of your ideal partner, so your more than likely to be exposed to long-term disappointment, right? Wrong, the study followed up with the relationships who had strong idealizations and they reported that they felt their relationship was far more stable and satisfying compared to relationships who had no idealizations. How is this so?

By idealizing your partner you project traits of what your ideal partner would consist of and this results in a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy. Not only do you believe that your significant other processes those specific traits, due to your positive illusions, but your significant other also starts to believe and therefore eventually starts exhibiting those traits.

This makes me question if this effect also occurs in reverse? For example if you perceive all men as jerks, therefore you project this image that all men are jerks and thus all men you date turn out to be jerks.

I believe our mind set and perceptions has a huge impact on the outcome of our situations. So go into every aspect of your life with the most positive of intentions, especially a relationship. It may seem bleak due to it being Valentines day and many of us to not have a date, myself included, its easy to be bitter. However, this isn’t forever (at least I really hope not), so Happy Valentines Day! Eat some chocolate and always be positively, your match is out there 🙂  ❤

Reference;

Murray S. L. (1999). The Quest for Conviction: Motivated Cognition in Romantic Relationships. Psychological Inquiry, 10, 23-34.

 

 

 

 

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5 thoughts on “Relationship Goals

  1. There can definitely be positive effects to idealizing your significant other. This study found that ratings of their partners actually reflected their own self-images, and overall people rated their partners higher than they rated themselves. So one person may rate their partner an 8 in the intelligent or good looking category, but that partner would only rate themselves a 5 or 6. These idealized perceptions also lead to greater satisfaction too! People were happier and more satisfied in their relationship if they idealized their partner, and their partner idealized them. The study concluded that idealization may be a crucial factor to have a positive and fulfilling relationship.
    Murray, S. L., Holmes, J. G., & Griffin, D. W. (1996). The benefits of positive illusions: Idealization and the construction of satisfaction in close relationships. Journal of personality and social psychology, 70(1), 79.

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  2. I really enjoyed your presentation on this! Your discussion on how self-fulfilling prophesies really intrigued me. In your blog you talked about how idealizing your partner can cause them to start exhibiting the traits you believe they have. I wondered how self fulfilling prophesies could affect relationships in other ways and found an article that looks at how people with a high sensitivity to rejection can cause a break up by believing that they will be rejected. This occurs when a person who has “anxious expectations of rejection by significant others” reacts to their partner with aversive behaviour that can elicit rejection (Downey, 1998).

    Downey also discussed a past study that showed that individuals who had a higher sensitivity to rejection were more likely to view their new partner’s ambiguous behaviour as having “hurtful intent”. In other words, they were more likely to assume the worst when their new partner was being vague or confusing.

    Downey, G., Freitas, A. L., Michaelis, B., & Khouri, H. (1998). The self-fulfilling prophecy in close relationships: Rejection sensitivity and rejection by romantic partners. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75(2), 545-560. doi:10.1037//0022-3514.75.2.545

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  3. Mindfulness definition: ‘a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.’
    Sean Barnes and colleagues studied the role of mindfulness in romantic relationship satisfaction and stress and found that higher trait mindfulness is a positively correlated with satisfaction in the relationship. Mindfulness is also positively correlated with the ability to respond in a more constructive manner to relationship stress. Mindfulness is correlated with better communication within a relationship, lower emotional stress, and the overall well-being of the relationship. This is a super interesting topic!

    http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.690.9676&rep=rep1&type=pdf

    https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/mindfulness

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  4. I really enjoyed your blog as always. It is true putting your partner on a high pedestal sometimes allows them to stop putting energy and effort in the relationship. I read an article which points to the reasons why some relationships fail when one partner is over-idealized by the other. It states, “Being put on a pedestal may lead to self-centeredness and seeing less need to put partner’s needs first.” And also, “Once partners are in an established relationship, the idealized partner may feel less pressure to expend energy maintaining the relationship.” You should look into this article as it enlists more reasons behind why some relationships fails when one is overly idealized. Overall, Great Job! Reference: http://www.vancourier.com/opinion/putting-your-partner-on-a-pedestal-may-be-harmful-to-your-relationship-1.2180203

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  5. Hey Brittni,

    I think that a lot of the portraying of the ideal partner has to do with a confirmation bias as well. Usuing the definition of confirmation bias by Nickerson (1998), a person who views their partner as ideal will over time truly believe that they are ideal, like you said in your blog. Therefore, because they now see that this is happening, they really believe that the partner is perfect.

    Nickerson, R. S. (1998). Confirmation bias: A ubiquitous phenomenon in many guises. Review of general psychology, 2(2), 175.

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