Optimism bias in relationships
This unrealistic optimism is known as optimism bias. It is a cognitive bias that makes us believe that we have higher chances of being successful at something and lower chances of experiencing a misfortune than it is in reality.
We believe that our relationships will be perfect without any problems and that we will be happy in life. However, that seldom happens. Kendra Cherry, MS, author and educational consultant, says that “optimism bias is essentially a mistaken belief that our chances of experiencing negative events are lower and our chances of experiencing positive events are higher than those of our peers.”
This psychological tendency makes us believe that everything will get better despite how problematic things might be right now. And this belief often leads to poor decisions like choosing to stay in a toxic relationship longer than you should, as we tend to overlook the threats and risks.
“People hugely underestimate their chances of getting divorced, losing their job or being diagnosed with cancer; expect their children to be extraordinarily gifted; envision themselves achieving more than their peers; and overestimate their likely life span. The belief that the future will be much better than the past and present is known as the optimism bias,” explains academic Tali Sharot in a TIME article.
Sharot believes that there are several reasons for us being more optimistic than we need to, whether in life or in relationships. She says “One is the issue of control. You tend to believe you have control over your life, and you tend to believe you have more control than you actually do.”
However, being positive is not all bad as long as you are grounded and look at things the way they are. “On the positive side of optimism bias, all things being equal, optimists live longer and are healthier. Because of this optimism they take action, they’re motivated,” says Sharot. This cognitive bias inspires us and protects us.
It motivates us to keep moving and take charge of our own happiness. But optimistic women also need to be realistic enough to know when to end a toxic relationship.
Sharot adds “We need to be aware of our bias in general and take precautions against it. Protect ourselves, knowing we have this bias towards positivity.”
Be optimistic enough to move on
The more we hold on to an unhealthy relationship and wait for it to get better, the more we are cheating ourselves on true happiness. We are holding ourselves from reaching our true potential and finding a truly healthy relationship. A relationship where we won’t have to try so hard to make it work. Where we don’t have to worry about making our partner happy. A relationship that will be effortless, loving, and caring.
We need to be optimistic enough to realize that we deserve better. We need to be optimistic enough to know that when we leave a toxic relationship, we will find someone who will love us and accept us for who we are. Someone who won’t manipulate is to change. We need to be optimistic enough to realize that love and happiness is right around the corner. We only need to step out of the darkness and take a step forward. So do yourself a favor and leave.
Sarah K Ramsey concludes “Being optimistic, kind, forgiving, hopeful, and seeing the best in people are the building blocks for something beautiful. There are amazing people out there who will realize these amazing qualities are too precious to manipulate. And, too precious too lose.”