Are You In Denial About Your Relationship

Men's Dating

Are You in Denial About Your Relationship?

Dr. Gary Lewandowski Jr.

Written by: Dr. Gary Lewandowski Jr.

Dr. Gary Lewandowski Jr.

As a professor at Monmouth University, Dr. Gary W. Lewandowski Jr. has published more than 25 research articles. His work and expertise has been featured in media outlets such as The New York Times, CNN and Ladies Home Journal. Dr. Lewandowski is also a nationally recognized teacher who was featured in the book "Princeton Review’s: The Best 300 Professors."

Edited by: Lillian Castro

Lillian Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro brings more than 30 years of journalism experience to ensure DatingAdvice articles have been edited for overall clarity, accuracy, and reader engagement. She has worked at The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, The Gwinnett Daily News, and The Gainesville Sun covering lifestyle topics.

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Your relationship has been going well for the past few weeks, but you probably catch yourself wondering, “Where is this relationship going? Will we still be together in a year?”

It would be nice if there was a way for you to know whether you finally met “The One” or merely “one of many.”

Until someone invents a relationship crystal ball (Apple should really get on that), you either have to figure it out for yourself or ask your friends and family for their opinion.

Of these options, who will have the best insight?

How researchers did it:

To answer this basic question, researchers conducted two studies in which more than 100 undergraduate students answered questions about their current relationship and made predictions about what the future held.1

Researchers also contacted each student’s roommate and parents to ask them the same questions. A year and six months later, the researchers contacted the students again to see how everyone’s predictions turned out.

What they found:

  • Students thought the relationship would last nearly two to three times longer than the parents/roommates.
  • Students rated their relationship significantly higher than the parents/roommates.
  • Parents identified more problems in the relationship than either the student or the roommate.
  • Students’ ratings of relationship quality predicted whether the relationship lasted. However, students were no more accurate than their roommate or parents.
  • The roommate made the most accurate predictions.
  • Students were the most confident in their predictions about the relationship’s future.

Take a second to fully appreciate those last two bullet points. Not a good combo…nothing like being REALLY confident about your own poor judgment.

“You get the most accurate prediction of your

relationship by listening to everyone’s opinions.”

What does this all mean?

Well, it is important to realize you are biased when evaluating yourself and making predictions. When it is your own relationship and feelings, you may look at things too optimistically.

When students reported relationship quality, it did predict the relationship’s future, but apparently the students didn’t use the same information as the basis of their prediction.

The roommate was likely more accurate because they have more of the facts (e.g., they see the problems, hear the fights, etc.) and don’t have the complication of having their feelings wrapped up in the relationship.

This is not to say if a friend or roommate says, “I don’t really like your partner” or “You could do better,” you should immediately dump that relationship.

What it means for you.

This research suggests if roommates, friends or family members express concerns, you should be concerned as well. They may be seeing something you cannot because you’re too close to the situation.

That is, fight the urge to say, “What do you know? It’s my relationship. I know what’s best.” Sure, that may be how you feel, but this research suggests other opinions have some truth to them.

Ultimately, you may get the most accurate prediction of your relationship’s future by listening to everyone’s opinions and incorporating it with your own thoughts about your relationship quality so you can benefit from their insights.

Are you in denial about the quality of your relationship? Are there dating red flags you should fess up to?

1 MacDonald, T. K., & Ross, M. (1999). Assessing the accuracy of predictions about dating relationships: How and why do lovers’ predictions differ from those made by observers? Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 25(11), 1417-1429. doi:10.1177/0146167299259007

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