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Why Do You Find Your Partner so Amazing, Even If No One Else Does?

Updated on June 27, 2012
Rudolph Valentino and Alice  Terry
Rudolph Valentino and Alice Terry
Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean
Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean

"Love is a gross exaggeration of the difference between one person and everybody else," said George Bernard Shaw, and the statistics back him. Ninety- five percent of us think our partners are above average in appearance, intelligence, warmth, and sense of humor. With so many exceptional lovers, it's a wonder that any of us ever break up.

Commitment to a long-term relationship requires a conviction that your darling is better for you than anyone else, and such sureness requires a healthy dose of self- delusion. If you didn't idealize him (and if he didn't idealize you), there would be no ideal and without an ideal the future seems bleak, doesn't it? The more idealized your perception of your beloved, the more satisfied you probably are in your relationship.

This is the gist what psychologists call romantic idealization. A study of nearly two hundred married or dating couples found that a predictor of happiness in a relationship is whether people idealized their partners and their partners idealized them, even if both parties didn't see the same virtues in themselves. Whether married or dating, when men and women saw their partners in the imperfect and inadequate way their partners see themselves, not in a rose-colored light, satisfaction ratings took a turn for the worse. Men in particular were happiest when their partners idealized them, regardless of whether the perception was warranted. Flattery apparently doesn't hurt a relationship.

Joan Crawford and Clark Gable
Joan Crawford and Clark Gable
Montgomery Clift and Olivia de Havilland
Montgomery Clift and Olivia de Havilland
Jean Harlowe and Robert Taylor
Jean Harlowe and Robert Taylor

Love-illusioned couples are also happier than "realisits" in the face of the inevitable adversities that afflict every relationship. They feel more secure ,empowered with the conviction that they are with the right person, even if he's unable to hold a job or she's hopelessly neurotic. When good things happen, the partner is credited, and when the bad things happen, the situation is to blame. In this rosy glow, she perceives him as a brilliant nonconformist and he perceived her as poetic and sensitive. Of course, idealizing without idolizing is key. It's not as though you need to think he's great all the time at everything. The researchers found that the happiest couples cast their disappointments in the best light without denying negativity.

Bear in mind that romantic idealization happens without deliberate self-deceptions. Your brain has brainwashed you. Using IMRI, neuroscientists have found that when people who are deeply in love think of their mates, regions of the brain involved in social judgement and negative emotions, the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala, are switched off. With the amygdala and prefrontal cortex silent, you may not objectively see your sweetie's faults or distrust him. ( This only applies to your partner; you remain perfectly capable of being critical of anything else you encounter, You might even be especially critical of those who criticize him.) At the same time, the "reward" areas of your brain, the caudate nucleus and the ventral tegmental area, are switched on, encouraging you to keep the relationship going. And when you kiss and cuddle and make love, you're hit with oxytocin, which calms and soothes your nervous system.

Bottom line: If you think your lover is the most amazing creature on earth, that's fine and natural[ and there's no reason to care if others don't see the same. And if he thinks the same of you( this part is crucial), then he probably is the one for you. It's likely to be a self-fulfilling prophecy, and isn't that wonderful? there are very few things for which it's okay to have idealized, self-deluded conviction. Let love be one of them.

To be in love is merely to be in a state of perceptual anesthesia- to mistake an ordinary man for a Greek god, or an ordinary young woman for a goddess - H.L. Mencken


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