Let’s do a quick thought experiment. I want you to think of your best friend. Now, think of every weakness your best friend has. If you know them well, you’ll be able to think of a couple, even though you love your friend dearly. Finally, ask yourself, “Does this information make me doubt whether we should remain friends?” Unless there are some underlying issues already brewing between you and your friend, the answer is probably no. In fact, you probably didn’t even have to think about it. You may find, however, that if you contemplate your partner’s flaws, doubts start to creep in. What makes the difference?
One possible difference is that you are unlikely to spend a lot of time analyzing your best friend’s flaws. Sure, you recognize the flaws, but you don’t spend a lot of time thinking about them unless something happens to disrupt the relationship. In a romantic relationship, though, it’s really common to spend time analyzing your partner’s flaws. I suspect this is because your partner’s flaws tend to have a greater influence on your future, so thinking about them feels more urgent.
Unfortunately, spending too much time thinking about your partner’s flaws can make those flaws seem like a bigger issue than they really are. This causes stress in relationships, and can even cause relationship hopping, where a person overanalyzes the flaws in their partner to the point where they convince themselves someone else would be a better partner, so they move on to another partner, only to do the same thing with that person, and so on.
As always, balance is the key here. You don’t want to ignore genuine concerns that you need to address with your partner, but don’t let that trick you into overanalyzing your partner’s flaws and creating extra stress where it doesn’t need to be. As we discussed last week, your partner is human, and humans have flaws. Acknowledge your partner’s weaknesses, and make changes to deal with the weaknesses if necessary, but don’t expect perfection or overanalyze to the point where you psyche yourself into believing a minor issue is actually a big problem.