Over-Idealization in Relationships


As anyone who has had a stomach ache from over-indulging in desserts knows, it’s easy to have too much of a good thing. Dr. Jennifer Tomlinson points out that the same adage is true for relationships, especially when openly praising your significant other. In research she completed in collaboration with academics from Brooklyn College, University of Rochester, and University of Waterloo, she found that when couples feel over-idealized in a relationship, it can cause problems. They measured over-idealization of traits (e.g., friendly, smart, helpful) versus abilities (e.g., social butterfly, athletic, excellent cook), and found that when a person felt they were being put too high on a pedestal by their partner, they created distance in the relationship. This negative effect was stronger for men who felt over-idealized, and when abilities (rather than traits) were over-praised. Check out the full article covering her research in The Vancouver Sun here. And, if you are interested in more research by Dr. Tomlinson, mosey on over to this post.

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