11 Signs You're Attached to the Fantasy Version of Your Relationship

A romantic relationship can be a beautiful experience – a source of love, companionship, and growth. But what happens when the relationship you’ve created in your head isn’t the one you’re actually experiencing?

Are you in love with an idealized version of your partner instead of the one they really are? And has that fantasy kept you in a relationship that doesn’t align with your true self or your values?

Are you idealizing your relationship?

Romanticizing things is what we do as humans, and our relationships aren’t immune. We want a picture-perfect, Instagram-worthy relationship full of all the things we’ve dreamed about. True love. Financial security. Picket fence, 2.5 kids, and happily ever after. 

There’s nothing wrong with seeing the positive in a relationship. But when your relationship is very different from the picture in your mind, there’s a disconnect. Are you in love with your partner, or are you merely attached to the fantasy you’ve built around them? 

Here are some signs that you may be settling for a fiction of your own making. 

1. You avoid conflict with your partner at all costs

Nobody likes to argue, and it’s only normal to want to maintain harmony. But if you’re constantly dodging disagreements, you’re also probably not addressing fundamental issues – some that could affect you and your relationship long-term. 

2. You rationalize those “red flags” they send up

His Friday happy hours wander way into Saturday. Her online shopping habit keeps the local Amazon driver gainfully employed. But instead of addressing the issues, you make excuses for them or justify the behaviors. 

3. You live in the past

Reminiscing about the good old days keeps you stuck in the past and missing out on the present – a present that might indicate your relationship isn’t what it used to be. 

4. You live in the future

While optimism is great, if you find yourself on hold waiting for some future event to happen for a better tomorrow, you may be waiting a long time. 

5. You focus on changing your partner

Loving someone for what they could be instead of who they are is a sure recipe for disappointment. 

6. You're waiting for your partner to fulfill their potential

According to Charles Schulz, “There’s no heavier burden than an unfulfilled potential.” And, if it’s your partner’s, that burden is also yours. Unfortunately, that unfulfilled potential can lie dormant for a long while, wasting your precious time. 

7. You overlook your basic incompatibilities

You don’t see eye to eye on the most important things. Your values and lifestyles are entirely different, and you don’t share major life goals. And yet, you brush these aside, hoping your partner will eventually change their mind. 

8. You depend on the relationship for your happiness

A healthy relationship should complement your life, not be the sole source of your happiness. If you’ve hinged your entire happiness on your relationship, you’ll do anything to protect it. 

9. You are not growing personally

If you’ve put your personal goals and pursuits on hold because of your relationship, you may want to stop and ask why. 

10. You constantly compare your relationship to others

One way to make your relationship seem better is to compare it to someone else’s worse situation. But is that healthy? Is that what you want?

11. You feel discontent

Despite all the excuse-making, you know there’s something wrong … but you’re afraid to make a change. 

What causes people to be so blind?

As they say, love is blind. But is it really? Or do we often unwittingly pull the blindfold over our own eyes? What causes us to overlook obvious flaws to construct our own picture-perfect version, even when the evidence strongly suggests otherwise?

Insecurities and low self-esteem

People who struggle with a poor sense of self-worth may feel lucky to have a partner at all, even if the relationship is less than ideal. They would rather focus on the good and ignore the bad.

Fear of loneliness

One of the most innate human fears is the fear of being alone. Singlehood is just one step up from that. Humans are a social bunch, and for many, having “someone,” no matter how flawed, is better than having no one. 

Investment of time

The more time, emotion, and energy invested in a relationship, the harder it can be to see it objectively or decide to abandon it. Known as the “sunk cost fallacy,” it has kept people stuck in place for eons. 

Personal history and past trauma

Personal history plays a big role in how we see life and the people around us. If someone was formerly in a toxic relationship, a new partner can seem much better in comparison, even with their underlying flaws. If all they know about relationships is what they saw in their parents’ dysfunctional relationship, they’ll tolerate anything better in their own.

Cultural and societal pressure

Cultural norms and pressures are powerful influences. From Disney princesses to romantic movies, that idea of “happily ever after” has created a high bar for the normal relationship. The pressure to find the right partner can leave us exaggerating positive traits while ignoring the less-than-positive ones. 

Fear of change

We often resist change, especially if it threatens our sense of stability. Admitting a relationship is flawed means acknowledging the need for change, which can be a terrifying prospect. Better to hold on to the fantasy that has at least offered a sense of comfort and familiarity. 

It’s natural for us to focus on the positive aspects of the people we love. After all, real love lies in knowing and accepting the good and the flawed in ourselves and our partners. But if you’re clinging to an idealized version of that partner, you may find that the relationship you’ve spent your time and energy on was time wasted. It may be time to cut your losses. 

Relationships are complicated. At Hello Divorce, we’re here to support you no matter where you go with yours. Our online divorce plans make the process easier and more affordable, and our professional services can offer guidance in other essential ways. Schedule a free call to learn more about our services. 

Divorce Content Specialist
Mediation, Divorce Strategy, Divorce Process, Mental Health
Candice is a former paralegal and has spent the last 16 years in the digital landscape, writing website content, blog posts, and articles for the legal industry. Now, at Hello Divorce, she is helping demystify the complex legal and emotional world of divorce. Away from the keyboard, she’s a devoted wife, mom, and grandmother to two awesome granddaughters who are already forces to be reckoned with. Based in Florida, she’s an avid traveler, painter, ceramic artist, and self-avowed bookish nerd.