The self-fulfilling nature of positive illusions in romantic relationships: love is not blind, but prescient

J Pers Soc Psychol. 1996 Dec;71(6):1155-80. doi: 10.1037//0022-3514.71.6.1155.


It is proposed that satisfying, stable relationships reflect intimates' ability to see imperfect partners in idealized ways. In this study of the long-term benefits (or possible costs) of positive illusions, both members of dating couples completed measures of idealization and well-being 3 times in a year. Path analyses revealed that idealization had a variety of self-fulfilling effects. Relationships were most likely to persist-even in the face of conflicts and doubts-when intimates idealized one another the most. Intimates who idealized one another more initially also reported relatively greater increases in satisfaction and decreases in conflicts and doubts over the year. Finally, individuals even came to share their partners' idealized images of them. In summary, intimates who idealized one another appeared more prescient than blind, actually creating the relationships they wished for as romances progressed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Aspirations, Psychological
  • Cognitive Science
  • Conflict, Psychological
  • Courtship*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Love*
  • Male
  • Models, Psychological
  • Motivation
  • Object Attachment
  • Perceptual Defense*
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Personality
  • Self Concept
  • Social Perception*