When you look at your date or mate, do you see their ideal qualities in their inner core? Do you see beyond excess baggage and celebrate their best self? Or do you let flaws or quirks block your view of their ideal self?
If you take this Love Test and fall into the latter, near-sighted group, then you may want to be like Mike–Michelangelo–who once said he would look at a block of marble and chip away anything that wasn’t the ideal form inside.
A new study reveals that Michelangelos make smart lovers, and couples who sculpt each other to release their best selves tend to be happier in their relationship. Over the long term, each partner comes to reflect what your partner sees and illicits from you.
These were the findings reported by Eli J. Finkel, Ph.D., a Northwestern University associate psychology professor who co-authored a review of seven papers on the “Michelangelo Phenomenon.” I’m summarizing smart love tips from Dr. Finkel’s report in Northwestern News, my alumni news source.
Dr. Finkel says the Michelangelo effect is not simply about supporting your partner, nor is it about promoting what you think your partner’s ideal self should be. The ideal is to sculpt one another’s traits and skills and promote rather than inhibit one another’s goal achievement.
“It’s not just that you treat me positively,” Finkel says, “You treat me in particular ways that dovetail with my ideal self.”
How do you use this news to create a happy relationship?
Romantic partners bring out the best in each other when you help each other live your best dreams. In doing so, you help each other feel more comfortable being the person you truly want to be.
How do you know if you are supporting your partner’s image of their best self?
I suggest you ask them about their core values. A relationship can hit the rocks if you promote a quality in your partner that they feel is not essential to their core being.
For example, a female rocket scientist with a lot of sex appeal may feel disaffirmed when her date calls her the MIT Cutie. This term of endearment that focuses on her tangential beauty is a minefield you could avoid if you had the conversation about core values.
Is there a common finding in all seven studies of the Michelangelo effect?
Dr. Finkel observes a consistent finding that Individuals were especially likely to grow toward their ideal selves when their partners viewed them and treated them in line with their ideal. The process ultimately promoted greater happiness and well being in both partners.
How can you use this news to improve your romantic relationship?
I recommend that you take a moment to consider how you see and treat your partner in a dating or long-term relationship. If you promote your ideal vision for your partner instead of their own, then you create dangerous friction that can doom your relationship.
When you can chisel and polish each other in ways that help each of you become your ideal self, then you are sculpting a rock-solid relationship with your ideal love match.
Ready to get out your chisel and sculpt a happy relationship?
Let us know how it goes when you share your comments after this post.
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