There’s a widely cited study in a social psychology journal about the benefits of positive illusions with close relationships.
Murray’s analysis proved that individuals were happier in their relationships when they idealized their partners and their partners idealized them. In fact, her research found that a certain degree of idealization or illusion may be a critical feature of satisfying dating and marital relationships.
Anyone who’s been coupled up for more than a year can attest to that. Humans need their illusions to live. Everyone has to let some lies into their life. And there’s nothing wrong with choosing to interpret people in a more positive light.
We remember the past the way we need to.
The danger is when we mistake those illusions for real life. The danger is when we connect our expectations with someone else’s behavior. The danger is we allowing the neurotic fantasy script inside our heads to be the arbiter of our reality.
And all of these things are easy to do when our hearts are submerged in the glory of attraction, infatuation, love and dependency.
Senge’s renowned book about building learning organizations comes to mind. It has nothing to do with marriage, but does reminds us about the sources of our cynicism.
If we scratch the surface of most cynics, he says, we will find a frustrated idealist, someone who made the mistake of converting ideals into expectations.
That’s the trap. We generate an unfeasible fantasy of people, and then hold them in contempt for falling short. Because we’re angry and disappointed.
Thurber referred to this as the grief of relinquishing a romantic fantasy in the face of a disenchanting reality.
And all goes back to idealization. Expectation.
Two words that we ought to delete from our emotional vocabulary.
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Have you relieved yourself of the burden of trying to make outcomes match our expectations?
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That Guy with the Nametag
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