Ideal Standards, the Self, and Flexibility of Ideals in Close Relationships


Two studies tested how romantic ideal standards and their flexibility are associated with relationship quality. In Study 1, individuals rated themselves and their ideal romantic partners on three dimensions: warmth/trustworthiness, vitality/attractiveness, and status/resources. They then reported how flexible their ideals were on each dimension and how closely their current partner matched their ideal standards. Individuals who rated themselves higher on each dimension held higher ideal standards that were less flexible and perceived higher relationship quality the more their partners matched their ideals. This latter effect was moderated by the flexibility of ideals on two dimensions—warmth/trustworthiness and status/resources. In Study 2, members of dating couples reported their ideals, how closely their partners matched their ideals, and their flexibility. People were happier the more they matched their partners’ ideals. Partner discrepancy ratings once again mediated the link between self-perceptions and perceived relationship quality for the warmth/trustworthiness dimension.

In Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin