Do you look around at the happy couples around you holding hands and laughing, and wonder why that’s not you? Do you wonder why your romantic relationship always seems to have problems? A study from The Association for Family Therapy collected data to examine how your perception of relationships in general and your perception of yourself can affect couple relationship dynamics. The study of 266 community individuals uncovered some expected and surprising results.
First, the degree of romantic attachment you feel with your significant other is positively associated with how satisfied you are with your romantic partner. The happier you are with your romantic partner, the more attached you will be to this person. This is true regardless of your perception of yourself – even if you believe you are a negative person, are prone to self-criticism, feel dependent on this person, or are depressed. What is key in this finding is that your view of your partner affects how much you can feel connected to him or her.
Second, the degree to which your self-criticism affects your general self-perception affects how satisfied you are with your romantic partner. Self-criticism is a natural behavior. The study finds that if you are self-critical, you will have trouble finding your partner to be good enough or the right fit for you.
Last, the study found you may have a tendency to self-criticize if you tend to avoid relationship situations that may frighten you or if you obsess over a romantic attachment. Being self critical is clearly a detractor in forming satisfying, connected relationships.
Further research is needed to investigate these findings. However, these research findings give us clues to our own behavior and own perceptions that affect the relationships we have with the people we love. If you are concerned that you have low self esteem which is affecting your relationships, it would be a good idea to seek professional help. You could seek help as an individual or in couple’s therapy.
Finding the right partner, may indeed be about finding yourself.