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INTERPERSONAL RELATIONS AND GROUP PROCESSES The Self-Fulfilling Nature of Positive Illusions in Romantic Relationships: Love Is Not Blind, but Prescient Sandra L. Murray University of Michigan John G. Holmes University of Waterloo Dale W. Griffin University of Sussex 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. Love to faults is always blind, Always is to joy inclin'd, Lawless, wing'd, and unconfin'd, And breaks all chains from every mind. —William Blake, Poems (1791 - 1792) from Blake's Notebook Reality or parody? In many ways, Blake's musings depict the romantic ideal. Swept up in the experience of love, trusting, sat- isfied individuals embellish their partners' virtues, while chari- tably, perhaps sensibly, turning a blind eye to their faults (e.g., Murray & Holmes, 1993, 1994). Setting Blake's ideal aside, most psychologists believe that lasting satisfaction depends on individuals understanding their partners' real strengths and frailties (e.g., Brickman, 1987; Swann, De La Ronde, & Hixon, 1994; Swann, Hixon, & De La Ronde, 1992). After all, because Sandra L. Murray, Department of Psychology, University of Michi- gan; John G. Holmes, Department of Psychology, University of Water- loo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada; Dale W. Griffin, Department of Cog- nitive and Computing Sciences, University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton, England. This article is based on a doctoral dissertation submitted by Sandra L. Murray to the University of Waterloo. The article was prepared with the support of a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Postdoctoral Fellowship and two SSHRC research grants. We are greatly indebted to Harry Reis and Mark Zanna for their thoughtful comments on this research. We would also like to thank Mary Dooley for her assistance in conducting this research. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to San- dra L. Murray, who is now at the Department of Psychology, Park Hall, State University of New York, Buffalo, New York 14260-4110. Elec- tronic mail may be sent via the Internet to [email protected]
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  • Fall '10
  • SusanTurkCharles
  • The Land, partner, positive illusions

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