It could actually be better for your relationship if your significant other doesn’t “complete” you.
Depending on how committed you are, couples often call one another their “better half” or say they’re “made for each other” but according to a new study in the “Journal of Experimental Social Psychology,” these concepts aren’t necessarily a great thing.
Researchers tested 73 people, who had been monogamous on any level (committed, engaged or married) for at least six months prior to participating in the study. Test subjects were asked to pick out five phrases they’d heard before, including “my better half” and “made for each other,” which focused on the couple as a “perfect” unit. There were also phrases like “look how far we’ve come,” which would indicate progress.
Participants, who weren’t aware of the context of this quiz, were exposed to one of two patterns of thought: unity vs. journey.
Subjects were then asked to describe two fights and two celebratory moments from their relationships before rating how happy they were with their relationships overall. Later, the participants had to pick pairs of shapes that either leaned toward unity or more of journey.
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It was found that the people who had been exposed to the “we” mentality were less satisfied with their relationships after talking about a fight. The study points out the potential problem with this line of thinking: “If two people were really made in heaven for each other, why should they have any conflicts?” This research suggested that couples who prescribe to the “you complete me” line of thinking were holding their real life relationship up to a standard of perfection that no couple ever reaches. Needing your partner to live up to an idealized version of what a significant other should be, ultimately only harms the relationship.
People that were able to think of relationships more in terms of a journey (i.e. “we’ve been through all these things together”) didn’t let the memory of a fight negatively affect their level of satisfaction. This is because they saw fights as a natural part of any romantic relationship, and some even took it as an opportunity to grow within it.
While it can be fun to imagine that you and your partner were made for each other, this thinking prompts couples to forget that they’re actually two different people who have paired up. When you bring two different sets of experiences and patterns of thought together, there will be disagreements–and that’s okay. Fights are not necessarily an indicator of how compatible two people actually are. It just means they look at things a little differently, and they need to talk things out in order to understand one another a little better. It could be worse!
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