Have you ever had a friend tell you about a gorgeous person they started seeing, only to meet the new partner in person and be thoroughly underwhelmed? Chalk it up to one of my favorite findings on how beauty plays out in romantic relationships: positive illusions.
Positive illusions—an inflated, unfounded optimism, particularly around one’s own circumstances and abilities—exist well beyond the romantic arena. They’re why most of us think we’re better-than-average drivers, why we gamble at casinos even when we know the odds are stacked against us, and why we’re pretty sure our kid is smarter than yours. But when this mental sleight of hand enters the realm of intimacy, it becomes downright beautiful. When we’re enamored with someone, we truly see them as being different than they really are—more physically appealing, for sure, but also more likable, more charming, more interesting, just plain better than most other people find them to be. But it’s not merely the byproduct of attraction—these illusions only fully come into play once we’ve established a relationship.
Here are five things to know about those rose-colored glasses through which you've been looking at your partner: