Everyone has a tendency to idealize situations and people, and this natural human response is always more pronounced in the things that matter most to us. Meeting someone and having a successful relationship is an area where the idealized love effect may occur, to the detriment of the relationship.
There are many relationships that fall into the love idealization trap, a “trap” that usually exists only on one side of the relationship. Take the case of Jim and Lydia, a couple in their thirties. Things were going fine and they had been dating for a couple of months. They seemed to get on very well with each other and enjoyed it each other’s company. So well in fact that Jim had even hinted that he loved her. Lydia felt that it was too soon in the relationship to speak of love but nevertheless she was encouraged as well as flattered by his words.
However, she did notice that he tended to put her on a pedestal. When she made mistakes he would brush them easily aside as if they had not occurred at all. If she was late for a date he barely seemed to notice, for example.
Then one day, a very trivial disagreement over which movie to see arose, something that in a better underpinned relationship would have been passed over in a moment and forgotten just as quickly. But when this minor disagreement occurred with Jim and Lydia, Jim suddenly and unexpectedly turned to her angrily and said she was not the woman he had thought she was. Worse, he used the moment as an excuse to break up with her.
This came straight our of the blue for Lydia. Back home she called him and tried to make up but he was adamant that the relationship had ended. He hung up on her while she was still speaking.
Lydia was utterly devastated at first, but a discussion with a friend brought some perspective to her situation. Jim had been idealizing her, trying to make her into someone or something that she was not. He had been trying to use her to fill an image of the perfect girlfriend that he had in his mind.
Watch out for the danger signs. If your boyfriend consistently makes light of any mistake you make, or makes excuses for you when you do something wrong, then he may be idealizing you. This may be very flattering at first, but the point will come when you will be toppled from from the pedestal he has put you on, and it can be a long way down.
To get around this danger, try to get to know him better, and in the process he will get to know you better. He needs to see you as a person, not as an idealized image, and it is much better to see each other as friends at first so that you can get to know each other’s real personalities. Only then can the relationship deepen into real love.