Everyone Is Perfect When You’re Falling In Love (+ Two Cures For “Romantic Blindness”)

Stephen Hussey

I become an idealist every time I fall in love.

I’m convinced I’m a Greek hero who has been lucky enough to win the heart of Aphrodite, that I must be the envy of every man in the world for having been able to entrance such a goddess and hold her attention.

Luckily, psychologists have increasingly said this might be a good thing.

According to current research, most successful relationships will be comprised of two partners who both harbour what are known as “Positive Illusions” about each other.

“Positive Illusions” describes our tendency to over-estimate our partner as slightly more talented, more intelligent, more beautiful, and more full of bottled up potential than they really are.

We tell our boyfriend/girlfriend “you can do anything you want babe, you’re the greatest” not because we’re being falsely reassuring (not all the time anyway), but because, on some level, when we’re in love we can’t help but see a golden halo around our partner’s head.

People may chalk this up to the delusional nature of love, but I think it’s one of the more beautiful parts of a relationship.

It’s truly believing in someone. It’s seeing the very best of someone and hoping they notice how incredible they are in your eyes.

One of my favourite things about falling in love is the moment when I find myself constantly mentioning the woman I’m dating in conversation, enjoying that glow of pride when I regale my companions with something smart my girlfriend said the other day, or when I boast to my parents about her academic achievements, or showing photos to not-so-subtly show off her gorgeousness.

And then, in the midst of the glow inside my heart, my head says “Nice one idiot. You did it again.”

Can “Positive Illusions” Be A Bad Thing?

Is it good to have a halo constantly hovering over your new boyfriend’s head?

Not always.

I remember dating a girl once in my early twenties who confided in me that she could be really cold and insensitive. “I’m just warning you”, she said.

My response (stupidly) was to brush this off, taking this utterance as just a silly mistake on her part, rather than a warning of behaviour yet to come.

Instead of heeding her words, I decided to believe that she was actually a sweetheart inside and rationalized that she must have just been putting up an unnecessary defensive-barrier.

I never called her out on why she would be cold and insensitive.

Instead of having the conversation there and then and saying “That’s not cool with me”, or asking “Why would you be like that?”, I just decided that she must not really mean it, mainly because I was crazy about her and didn’t want to accept anything that might derail my image of her as my vision of the perfect woman. I was too deep in my romantic blindness.

I did that thing we all do when we meet someone we fall for: I imagined that because she was perfect in a lot of ways, she must be perfect for me in every way.

It’s was as though I were looking at a rectangle and saying “well, it has four sides and kinda resembles a square, so it probably is a square really”.

The Twin Supports: Self-Awareness and Self-Respect

“Love is blind” they say.

But I don’t remember anyone telling me if this was a good thing or not.

One thing that stops you being blind in love is self-respect.

When you have no self-respect, you don’t feel worthy.

You feel lucky just to have attention. You don’t feel like you have a right to challenge others’ beliefs, or express unhappiness with what others say. You doubt yourself. You think you must be wrong to call someone out.

Lack of self-respect is what made me go along with someone who claimed to be cold and insensitive and think, “that’s ok, it’ll probably be fine”.

But self-respect has another partner it needs to truly work its magic: Self-Awareness.

Self-Awareness is knowing what you need. This is why having relationship experience (even if it’s bad) can be so important. It tells you what you definitely want and what you definitely don’t want.

Think of it this way: Self-Awareness is knowing what you need; Self-Respect is caring about yourself enough to demand it.

Self-Respect is what differentiates between noble admiration for someone and desperate fawning. It’s what separates the crazy-in-love from the just plain crazy.

Without both supports, you’re destined to make some wrong turns here and there. Just like I did. Just like I will again.

But at least I’m a bit closer to calling out a rectangle when I see one.


Photo (Simon Sparks)

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Stephen Hussey helped co-write the Get The Guy book and is a wealth of knowledge on dating and relationships.

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19 Replies to “Everyone Is Perfect When You’re Falling In Love (+ Two Cures For “Romantic Blindness”)”

  • Hi Steve,

    As I said on twitter, you are saying exactly what I need to hear this week. Thank you! I know I am a high value woman, and I love myself enough to demand respect from my partner. I don’t want to jump into something blind, but I know it can be difficult. That is why it helps to be solid in my standards and expectations before entering into anything. I am all for seeing the good in others, but I know it can lead to trouble, especially when my heart is at the wheel.

    Thank you, again! I appreciate the reminder.


    P.s. The one who holds your heart is a lucky lady! I hope she recognizes what she has. :)

  • Hi Stephen! I love reading your articles every week on here. I am one of the odd ones here that reads about this stuff even though ive never been in a relationship, but I believe reading this stuff and learning from others mistakes will help me in the long run. One day I hope to tell you and Matthew about the wonderful relationship I have all because of you two lovely men :)By the way congratulations on your phd! What was your phd in? You’ve got a lot going for you. Thank you for all you do.

  • thanks Stephen, great job on this article. I’m still trying as I always see and assume the good first…(then I get sad to find out it doesn’t unravel that way)

  • What a wonderful article Steve!
    Enjoyed it very much ☺
    Thanks for sharing it.
    I could relate to mostly of the things you wrote.
    Recently I fell in love with a “Perfect man”. However,my story didn’t have a happy ending. Luckily, I’ve learned so much from this experience.
    A few important lessons:
    1)If you feel unworthy of yourself and have a fear of rejection,there is a great chance that you’ll attract men who will step on your wounds.
    2)A magic key that healed my personal wounds – a self love.
    3)I’ve also realised that there is a difference between being loved and needing love.
    4) I believe, when we are truly happy with ourselves, and there is no wounds to be healed, the chance of attracting right men is greater.

  • Great article! I have definitely learned the hard way about being blind in a relationship, and how we can sometimes ‘fill in the blanks’ and err on viewing a partner more positively than they perhaps have earned or demonstrated. I absolutely agree self-respect plays a big part in all this. I do wonder if there are other elements at play, and if people with certain psychological types are more apt to put their partners on that pedestal. For example, I usually test as an INFP on the Myers-Briggs test, and this tendency is noted under that type (along with “having difficulty leaving a bad relationship”! Yikes….and unfortunately totally true for me).

  • It goes the other way round as well. Being neglected and ignored in what one needs because the other thinks me to be perfect when I am not. When the weaknesses I talked about and mentioned are something I need support with.

    Welp. Practice and more practice.

  • I absolutely needed this today!! I am so happy that you wrote this piece. You are amazing! Thank you so very much!!! <3

  • Wow! This was really interesting and reading it was quite a liberating experience! Thank you for sharing it with us.

    Have you ever been on the other side of the table? I’ve almost always been the one who is telling who she is and is not taken seriously! It’s really frustrating to sit and watch somebody(who doesn’t know you well enough) idealizing you with all their projections and not really listening to a word you say! Sometimes I wish I could wake them up from their awesome dream so we could really see each other!… And also, I don’t wanna be in a relationship with them the day that they wake up from the dream and decide I’m this other woman that they don’t recognize or like… I just dread getting hurt like this.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love compliments, I love myself and am proud and confident, I know the good and bad, the beautiful and the ugly about my self. I just love my self enough to want the other person to actually meet myself! LOL!

    So do you have any advise on this issue? I’m really honest and loud and clear about who I am, I just can not understand why most people just don’t want to hear?

  • Great advice! I am so glad I read it. It is exactly what I needed to hear these days when my relationship is undergoing a transformation…

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