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