Happy Couples Idealise Their Partner and Are Stronger For It

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Romantic illusions aren't all bad.

In any healthy relationship, whether work or personal, there’s got to be a certain amount of admiration. Your boss might be particularly good at showing empathy, or your best friend could be unwaveringly loyal, and that personality strength is something that draws you to them – pushing you to be, as the kids say, the best version of yourself.

A study with researchers from George Mason University and North Western University now has evidence of the direct correlation between the admiration for your partner’s strengths and the health of your relationship.

Read More: Why You Should Treat Your Relationship Like A Credit Card

Upon discussion with 159 heterosexual couples, with participants representing both university students and non-studying adults, researchers uncovered that a greater appreciation for particular personality traits of one’s partner directly related to how fulfilled and satisfied these people were in their relationships, even their sex lives. Those who admired strengths in their partner also admired traits in themselves, and in turn, were more satisfied in the areas of autonomy and relatedness.

“In other words, when we idealise our partner, they will often work hard to meet that ideal.”

“When somebody is aware and appreciative of another person’s strengths, communicates this, and provides opportunities for strengths to be used, this is when potential becomes realised,” wrote the authors. In other words, when we idealise our partner, they will often work hard to meet that ideal.

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Like any healthy relationship at work or at home, being aware of the other’s positive points is a key part in the “shared reality” of the partnership, wrote the researchers. Although the study argues that in a romantic relationship, the people involved “create scripts of how to behave, how not to behave and what is ideal”, arguably, this is still the case for any relationship at work – with colleagues, managers or bosses.

The patience and tolerance of your manager teaches you, in turn, to treat them in a similar way, creating unwritten rules about your expectations and what personality traits you’d like to model yourself on. The core of the argument is: being on each other’s team, in love or in life, is really key to how you play the game.

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