We’re often told that love can’t built on a lie- but according to a new study, a little self-deception can keep a relationship afloat.

The study, conducted at the University of Buffalo appears in April’s issue of Psychological Science.  In it, researchers share their observations of 222 couples that they studied from the time they applied for their marriage licenses to three years into their marriages.

All the couples were asked them to fill out a survey every six months where they described their partners and their hopes for an ideal spouse. The study found that the men and women who were “unrealistically idealistic” about their husband or wife when they first said their vows were more satisfied with their marriages three years down the road.

In an interview with the Globe and Mail, Dr. Sandra Murray, co-author of the study, spoke about its findings.

““People who idealized their partner less experienced a steep decline [in satisfaction]…for instance, ‘Gayle’ might perceive her ideal partner as more athletic than intelligent and she might perceive her husband ‘Ron’ in the same light,” Dr. Murray explained.  “However, his self-perceptions might be quite different than her ideals. He might see himself as being more of a couch potato. This is the sense in which her idealization of him may be unrealistic.”

So does painting a rosier picture of the people we love, help them become the people we want them to be?  No, says Murray, but it does help us believe we can deal with challenges in the relationship as they arise:

“Generally that is beneficial for relationships because seeing a partner in the best possible light gives people greater reason to believe that they can deal with problems within their relationships.”

The study seems to suggest that idealizing our better halves can help us put conflicts in perspective.  It does make me feel uneasy though.  After all, idealizing the person you love can lead to some blindsiding disappointment and harsh realities.  I mean raise your hand if you have a girlfriend who adores her man despite his less than appealing traits.  However, we’ve got to think that seeing the best in a person is what any relationship is about.

We’re torn and we’d love to hear your thoughts. What do you think Clutchettes, do a pair of rose-colored glass help see the best in love or keep us from seeing what we should?

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  • Three years is not enough time to examine the quality or health of a marriage.
    Also, I don’t trust anything that comes out of Buffalo, NY hahaha.