How Inflated Ego and Denial Can Lead To Frustration in Relationships


Inflated Ego Lead To Frustration Relationships

How inflated ego and denial can lead to frustration in relationships.
We all want to believe we are exceptional, worthy of love, and like the Lake Wobegone kids, above average. This “above-average effect” is very common.

Inflated ego and above-average effect?

Most high school seniors rate themselves in the top 25 percent (and 25 percent of those say they are in the top 1 percent). This isn’t just a math deficiency. About 94 percent of college professors say they’re above average in their teaching. It defies logic, but it doesn’t surprise. (What does seem odd are those bummed-out 6 percent of professors who think they are below average. Maybe a therapy referral would help?)

Other examples of above average effect abound: doctors predict they will be better at diagnosing than they actually are, and corporate CEOs are confident they are worth every penny of their colossal salaries. Incompetent people exaggerate their abilities the most. This is called the Dunning-Kruger effect, and it’s found among undergraduate students taking exams, where the worst test takers are the biggest exaggerators or their abilities. It is also found among medical students doing interviews. The worst have the biggest need to embellish, and the best and brightest don’t need to brag.

Read The Dunning-Kruger Effect (And How To Avoid This Cognitive Bias)

Inflated ego in relationships

Lovers also have an inflated ego, which can make it hard to come to a consensus. If you think your opinion is right (and of course you do), then why should you listen to your spouse’s foolish idea? But they are thinking the same thing, and this sets up a contest of wills.

Inflated ego
How Inflated Ego and Denial Can Lead To Frustration in Relationships

Partners also overestimate. She says she will get home sooner than she does (“just 15 more minutes, I swear”), and he thinks he will feel more amorous tomorrow. They both think they’ll be ready to leave sooner than they are. Not surprisingly, partners overestimate how much time they spend doing dishes, and men particularly overestimate how much they help around the house. When partners are asked what percentage of housework they each do, the totals add up to about 120 percent.

Everyone is protective of their delicate ego. We happily believe flattery, which is often just as distorted as the criticism we reactively dismiss. Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert had volunteers take fake personality tests that were “evaluated” by experts. The volunteers then got detailed, insulting feedback from a psychologist. The feedback was, of course, false. The participants—hopefully well compensated—were told they had few good qualities, or that others liked them because they were not a threat (psychologists are hilarious).

needing is the state of ego
How Inflated Ego and Denial Can Lead To Frustration in Relationships

Read What You See First Reveals Your Deepest Unconscious Fear: Visual Personality Test

Of course, people were miffed. Who wants to be told their purpose in life is to help others feel better by comparison? But participants quickly found reasons to deny the credibility of the exam or the psychologists. They told themselves: “They obviously don’t know the real me,” or “They are dumb to think that.” They probably would have eagerly believed the fake feedback if it was that they were amazing.

However, the researchers had another volunteer observe the psychologist giving the harsh results to the volunteer. The interesting thing was that the witnesses became more upset than the recipients of the rude evaluations. Why? The recipients were more likely to put up defenses and dismiss the feedback. The observers weren’t being attacked, so they just heard the rude evaluations and didn’t like seeing someone getting picked on. But those receiving the beat down simply “rejected the unbearable” (Freud’s term) criticism from the psychologist.

Psychological immune system

Gilbert calls this the psychological immune system. Like our physical immune system, it mostly monitors the environment and springs to the ready when something happens, like a flesh wound or the flu. Similarly, when we are psychically attacked, our denial system activates and rushes the threats out the door.

Minor irritants do not activate the immune system, because it would be counterproductive to respond to every little thing. When the body’s immune system is overreacting, as in the case of allergies or auto-immune inflammation, it’s a bad deal. If the psychological immune system is hyper-reactive then denial flares up at the slightest threat, and this results in a person who is constantly offended over any perceived slight.

When I talk with couples about denial, they can usually spot it. The problem is that they see it in each other, which is a kind of denial about denial. This is understandable because admitting denial is hard. However, it is important to live in reality, and the reality of a relationship includes both perspectives. Using both eyes gives depth to your vision, and hearing both partners’ perspectives brings more accuracy to your relationship.

To better understand the above average effect and inflated ego refer to video:

Mlodinow, Leonard. (2012). Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior (New York: Harper Collins, 2012).

Jacqui Gabb, Martina Klett-Davies, Janet Fink, and Manuela Thomae, "Enduring Love? Couple Relationships in the 21st Century." Survey Findings Report. Milton Keynes: The Open University (2013): 1-96.

David Dunning, Kerri Johnson, Joyce Ehrlinger, and Justin Kruger. "Why People Fail To Recognize Their Own Incompetence." Current Directions in Psychological Science 12, no. 3 (2003): 83-87.

Daniel T. Gilbert., Matthew D. Lieberman, Carey K. Morewedge, and Timothy D. Wilson, "The Peculiar Longevity of Things Not So Bad," Psychological Science 15, no. 1 (2004): 14-19.

Written by:  Jason Whiting PhD.
For consulting and workshops or treatment and supervision click here 
Originally appeared on Psychology Today 
Republished with permission 
Inflated Ego Lead To Frustration Relationships pin
How Inflated Ego and Denial Can Lead To Frustration in Relationships

— Share —

— About the Author —

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Up Next

What Is A Love And Hate Relationship? Understanding The Complexities Of Intense Emotions

What Is A Love And Hate Relationship? Navigating Complex Relationships

Are you stuck in a relationship with someone where you love and hate them at the same time? Feeling love and hate for the same person can unnecessarily complicate a relationship. But what is a love and hate relationship?

Let us explore what does a love hate relationship mean, why people have them, and how to navigate this complicated emotional terrain. 

What is a love and hate relationship?

Love and hate are two of the most powerful emotions that humans can experience. When these two intense feelings col

Up Next

What Does It Mean To Be A Hopeless Romantic? 10 Signs You Might Be One

What Does It Mean To Be A Hopeless Romantic? 10 Major Signs

Ah, the hopeless romantic. We’ve all heard the term before, maybe even used it to describe ourselves or someone we know.

But what does it mean to be a hopeless romantic? Is it a good thing or a bad thing? And why do some people identify with this label while others don’t? Do you consider yourself to be a hopeless romantic person? If yes, then you’ve come to the right place.

What is hopeless romantic love? Being a hopeless romantic touches on the very essence of what it means to be human – our capacity for love, connection, and vulnerability. While some may see it as a naive or unrealistic trait, others vi

Up Next

Will A Man Change For A Woman He Loves?

Will A Man Change For A Woman He Loves? 15 Signs He Will

A question that has plagued romantics for centuries, inspiring countless love stories, heartbreaks, and chick flicks – will a man change for a woman he loves?

With opinions ranging from the optimistic to the cynical, is it really possible to transform Mr. Stubborn into Mr. Right? Can a man evolve from a lazy couch potato into a dedicated partner, simply because he loves his woman?

Love can be a powerful force that can transform even the most stubborn of hearts. Yet it remains a mystery to many, but one thing is certain: when it comes to matters of the heart, anything is possible.

From personal growth to a deeper connection, let’s dive into why love can motivate a man to become a better version of himself. 15 compelling reasons why a man will always be willing to change for the ri

Up Next

5 Reasons Why Falling In Love With A Single Mom Is Worth The Extra Effort

Falling In Love With A Single Mom: 5 Reasons Why You Should

Love is never easy, but falling in love with a single mom brings a unique set of challenges and rewards. Here’s what you need to know before leaping.

It was a typical day when I first saw her at the park, chasing after her little one. She was a single mom, and I was a single man who was reluctant to commit, but there was something about her that felt different.

She was so full of life and love, and I couldn’t help but be drawn to her. As we got to know each other, I found myself falling deeper in love with her every day.

Even though she had a child and a lot of responsibilities, she made time for me and showed me what it meant to truly care for someone.

Honestly, I had p

Up Next

What Attracts A Pisces Man? 10 Irresistible Qualities He Seeks In A Woman

What Attracts A Pisces Man? 10 Qualities He Seeks in a Woman

Ah, the enchanting Pisces man. Known for their dreamy and imaginative nature, these water signs possess an allure that can captivate the hearts of many. If you’ve found yourself smitten by a Pisces man, you might be wondering what it is that truly attracts him. So, what attracts a Pisces man?

Fear not, for we’re here to unlock the secrets and reveal the ten irresistible qualities that can make a Pisces man weak in the knees. So, grab a cup of tea, get cozy, and let’s dive into the romantic realm of the Pisces man.


Up Next

To Mom, With Love

To Mom With Love feature

“To Mom With Love” is a phrase that encapsulates the deep appreciation and gratitude we feel towards the most important woman in our lives. Whether it is her unwavering love, her tireless dedication, or her selfless sacrifices, a mother’s impact on her children’s lives is immeasurable.

Through personal anecdotes and reflections, we share the lessons we have learned from our mothers, the memories we cherish, and the love that we hold in our hearts. Ultimately, “To Mom With Love” is a celebration of the unconditional love, strength, and wisdom that only a mother can provide.

Up Next

Love Or Oliver Twist Effect? 6 Signs Of The Oliver Twist Effect In Relationships

Love Or Oliver Twist Effect? 6 Signs You Desire More

When we first fall in love, it can feel like nothing in the world can compare to the euphoric rush of emotions we experience.

We want to spend every waking moment with our partners, shower them with affection, and bask in the glow of their adoration. But what happens when the Oliver Twist effect sets in? Is it love or Oliver Twist effect?

What happens when that desire for more starts to overshadow the love you feel for your partner? What happens when you become so focused on what you don’t have that you forget to appreciate what you do have?

AI Chatbot Avatar
⚠️ Liza is in training with WMHA and may not always provide the most accurate information.