Photo by Drobot Dean Adobe Stock
We were sitting on the sofa, side-by-side, content, calm, but missing something. Sparkless.
Is this what it feels like to fall out of love? I wondered as I eyed my then-boyfriend, now-fiance.
Let’s be honest: between work, commute, school, meals, chores, and trying to stay sane, there’s not a lot of time left in the day.
Connecting with your partner can often be put on the back-burner. Once we moved out and had full-time jobs, my fiance and I struggled to maintain our intimacy and connection. Maybe you’ve been there before too.
But falling back in love and igniting that spark can be easy when you implement the science of “positive illusions.”
What are positive illusions?
Positive illusions aren’t some magic trick … but then again they kind of are.
A positive illusion is when you think something (or someone in this case) is better than it actually is. Funnier. Smarter. Better-looking. You get it.
Looking at someone through a lens of positive illusions is like looking through rose-colored glasses. You aren’t getting a clear picture of all the actual colors. But a rose-tinted world isn’t so bad. If anything, it can be really beneficial for your relationship.
Why are positive illusions beneficial?
According to a 13-year long study, newlyweds who viewed each other under the influence of positive illusions were happier and less likely to divorce later down the road.
Really, this shouldn’t be that surprising. If you think your partner is the best thing since sliced bread, then of course you’re going to be happier.
Positive illusions are going to benefit your relationship in three big ways:
- You’ll be happier with your partner overall. You’ll view them in an optimistic, positive light.
- Therefore, you’ll be more likely to stay together.
- Positivity breeds positivity: meaning your partner will likely reciprocate your lovey-dovey behavior and an optimistic attitude. If you’re happy with your partner, chances are they’ll reflect some of that happiness right back at you. It’s a win-win.
Fostering positive illusions doesn’t come naturally to most people. As adults, we’re used to viewing things through the same filter we’ve viewed them for our whole lives. But it’s very possible to change your thoughts and make your brain more optimistic.
There are three specific strategies that you can start today to better your relationship through positive illusions. Bonus: they take less than ten minutes a day in total.
1. Start a Relationship Gratitude Journal
Gratitude journals have become something almost cliche in theory, yet rare in practice.
“Start a gratitude journal to change your life now” is the new self-help hype. This isn’t completely without reason. Gratitude journals do have the power to rewrite and train your brain.
For positive illusions specifically, you’ll want to focus on your partner. Get a blank notebook and a pen, then you’re good to go.
You can either list traits, things they did that you appreciated (or enjoyed, if you catch my drift), or free-write. The key is to keep it about them and how they made you feel…and engage in this activity daily. Allow yourself time to reflect on how grateful you are to have them.
Here are some questions and prompts to get you started:
- What do you like about them physically?
- Quote something they said that was cute, sweet, or funny.
- How do they make you feel?
- Name something they did that made you happy.
- What’s something they’ve done for both of you to be helpful?
If you spend five minutes a day jotting down some goodies about your partner, you’ll honestly feel more grateful for them and it’s fun to look back on in the future.
2. Compliment Your Partner, People
Oh, compliments. Who doesn’t love them? We can all relate to the song “Compliments” by Kollektivet, right? “Give me compliments, I said give me compliments!” If you haven’t heard it, it’s worth a listen. Just don’t judge me after you hear it.
Joking aside, your partner may know that you love them more than peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. But knowing that and hearing it are completely different things.
Compliments are a vocalization of love, appreciation, or just downright lust. They’ll strengthen your relationship and by saying them out loud, you’re reinforcing the heart of the compliment for both your partner and you. That’s right. It’s like positive affirmations. Saying them puts them into existence. It’s the same for compliments.
The good news is, you don’t have to be Shakespeare to woo your lover. Nope. In fact, if you've done step one, you already have some compliments in your toolkit, right?
Now, you definitely don’t have to share your entire gratitude journal with your partner. I would recommend against it, as it takes away from the privacy and the intimacy of being honest with only yourself as the audience. But, you can use some of your musings in your journal as ideas of what to compliment your partner on.
Verbalize some of those gratitude journal writings.
3. Surround Yourself With Positive Friends
Birds of a feather flock together. We’ve all heard that before and it’s no secret that our friendships have a huge impact on our mood, personality, and how we fundamentally view the world.
Therefore, it’s important to surround ourselves with support, loving friends. Aka, the people who are going to lift you and your boo up.
I once had a friend who would bash my then-boyfriend consistently. At first, I shrugged off her criticisms of him. But after so much exposure to her complaints, I started to eye him suspiciously as well. She got in my head and I started to wonder, was she right?
Friends have the power to kill relationships. They are looking at them more objectively than we are, it’s true. But they also only see so much of the relationship. They see a sliver of the picture, not the whole view.
So keep that in mind, and if you do have a friend that’s constantly nitpicking about your partners then maybe the problem isn’t your partners but is that your friend is a Negative Nancy. In which case, who has time for that?
Likewise, friends also have the power to boost your relationships with support and love.
So choose yours wisely.
These strategies take less than ten minutes a day. They’re fast, easy, and truly effective. They seem simple and that’s because they are. The simplest things in life make the biggest impact by creating a ripple effect. Where most people fail is that they don’t apply simple strategies because they either: 1. think the ripples don’t matter, or 2. are not committed enough.
If you want to take your relationship to the next level, then commit to these three strategies. You’ll be surprised at the changes they bring.