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Surprising Science

In Love, Better to Be Blind

Researchers suggest that happy delusions help when looking at your partner in a general sense and over the long term. But be more realistic on the short term details, they warn. 

What’s the Latest Development?

A study published in May in the journal Psychological Science helps show how rosy-tinted views affect a relationship down the line. “Researchers followed 222 newlyweds for three years—time enough, science has shown, for the marital blahs to set in. Everyone in the study started out relatively happy and then their satisfaction declined—except in one group. ‘People who were the most idealistic about their partner in the beginning showed no decline at all in satisfaction over the first three years of marriage,’ says study lead author Sandra Murray, psychology professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo.”

What’s the Big Idea?

“‘Positive biases and happiness seem to push each other along,’ says Garth Fletcher, psychology professor at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand. Researchers have noticed this ‘positive illusions’ effect over and over again—with straight and gay couples, young and old, men and women, at the beginning of a relationship and decades along. It’s there whether you’re asking someone to evaluate a spouse’s kindness and humor or his or her gorgeous face and hot body. … What seems to be important is viewing one’s partner and relationship as better than the evidence warrants.”


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