February 5, 2021

Love: A Proven Way to Make it Last

The mind may be stronger than the heart.

Many people wouldn't consider Valentine's day to be a "real" holiday, yet it's one of the most celebrated days of the year. Coming in third behind Christmas and Father's/Mother's Day, it's also one of the year's priciest events. Chocolates and quirky greeting cards play a big part on Valentine's Day, but passionate, long-lasting love is the real star of the day.

More evidence is pointing to positive illusion as a strong contender for making relationships last.

Finding and staying in love is a challenge and has been a topic of research for decades. There are columns and columns of advice on how to make relationships last: compliment each other, listen, don't criticize, be romantic, attend couples counseling. But more and more evidence is pointing to positive illusion as a strong contender for making relationships last.
According to an article published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, positive illusion in relationships is to believe that the relationship has more positive than negative characteristics. And partners may also view their significant other in a positive light. It's believing that your relationship or partner is awesome, amazing, the best.
hands making heart

Positive illusion can increase satisfaction and help relationships last longer. Photo Credit.

Positive illusion is thought to increase satisfaction and help relationships last longer in several ways. First, when people are optimistic about their relationships, they have fewer doubts about their partner. They're more open to problem-solving and motivated to compromise when faced with challenges - a super important quality when partners have opposite views or opinions. And finally, there's a consensus that being in a healthy, loving relationship boosts self-esteem.

Real Love or Illusion?

Some critics argue that positive illusion, is well, an illusion and may not represent relationships truthfully. But the research shows that having an optimistic outlook in both relationships or personal goal-setting is more beneficial than thinking negatively.
Partners with positive attitudes seem to be more open to working together, thus creating stronger bonds. Additionally, positive illusions may help strengthen faith in partners as they navigate their relationship's ups and downs.

Partners with positive attitudes have more faith in each other and are open to working together.

For those who'd rather have hard evidence of their love for their partner, consider giving the Passionate Love Scale a try. Drs. Hatfield and Sprecher created the 30-item questionnaire in the late '80s, and current-day articles about love still cite their research.
Creating the questionnaire involved much research of interviews with men, women, children, adolescents, newlyweds, and elderly couples to determine how they would characterize passionate love. Ultimately, they discovered that passionate love feels like an "intense longing for union with another." The questions on the questionnaire were based on this finding and the three ways people may show love:

Cognitive: Thinking about a partner and wanting to get to know them.

Emotional: Being attracted to them, longing to be loved back, and wanting to be close.

Behavioral: Wanting to know if their partner feels the same way and doing nice things for them.

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