Community//

Science Says Perception Is Everything in a Relationship: 4 Ways to Bend it in Your Favor

How committed and satisfied you think your partner is can say a lot about the quality of your relationship.

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Source: Giphy
Source: Giphy

When I was getting my life coaching certification, one lesson we learned in mindset work (that is, learning how to rewire your thought process so you can live a more fulfilling life) was the difference between what’s true and the truth.

In other words, what’s “true” for us is an individual experience (subjective): I might have my own recollection of a car crash (whether I was a victim or a witness), but it might not explain what actually happened. The “truth” explains what actually happened from the most objective place possible, almost like a bird’s eye view.

I bring this up because a study from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (version for mere mortals here) found that couples tend to base their relationship satisfaction on their own judgments. People look at how committed and satisfied their partners seem to be, for example, and how much they themselves appreciate their partners.

This was all done with machine learning on over 11,000 couples. Wow.

Now, this result might not sound that revolutionary to some. That’s your judgment. However, as a relationship coach, I get many complaints from my fellow ladies about men who are seemingly uncommitted to their relationships.

For example, oftentimes their boyfriends are spending too much time with their friends instead of with their girlfriends, almost like the guys want to date each other and get fat over Doritos and video games. Their girlfriends see what’s true for them (that their boyfriends are neglecting them) and are dissatisfied with the results.

It’s totally understandable that they’d feel neglected, given that they’ve been emotionally invested in what looks like a one-way relationship. It sucks like a TV show building up to the token couple finally getting together, but then one of them gets hit by a bus and dies. Ouch.

But with mindset work comes a universal truth: while you can’t (and shouldn’t) control your partner like a puppeteer or a remote control car, you can control yourself like a strong, independent woman. That’s the beauty of living a fulfilling (love) life.

Here are some ways to do that:

  • Be real about how you think and feel about your relationship and how you act on those thoughts and feelings. Then come up with a new (constructive) thought and feeling and act on that.
  • Communicate your thoughts and feelings with your partner using “I” statements (“I feel much more invested in this relationship than I’m getting back.”)
  • Remember that it’s better to be happily single than unhappily taken. You can always find someone else with whom you’re compatible and who will treat you well.
  • You have more power than you think! There’s usually (if not always) a way around that internal or external roadblock that our “friend” Fear shoved in front of us like a worried parent or a mischievous gremlin.

Perception is everything, but it doesn’t have to consume us like a possessed child needing an exorcism. Learn to step outside of yourself like Dr Strange so you can see the world more objectively and without sweating the small stuff.

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