Over the last decade or so, we have been ever increasingly conditioned for optimism. We have been bombarded with the philosophies of dozens of positive thinking gurus and our media outlets show us entertainment instead of the news that should be important to us … mostly so that we stay positive and pacified. I suppose this is in many ways a good thing. But is wandering the planet with our rose colored goggles of sanguinity damaging our ability to maintain good relationships? Although we can’t say for sure, I am going to give you some things to consider that make a very strong argument for yes, optimism can be unhealthy.
The Half Full Glass Never Needs Refilling
Many of us have lost a great portion of our pragmatism; there seems to be more of us than ever who have the half full mentality. At first glance, you would think that this is a good thing, but I disagree. Wholehearted optimism is a slippery slope leading to nonchalance.
When one thinks that everything is going to work itself out and that everything will always be fine, they tend to ignore small, everyday issues that can and will compound themselves into bigger problems. When people with overly optimistic attitudes treat their relationships as such, there is bound to be failure ahead. We need to tackle life’s problems with our partners. Moreover, we need to address the problems concerning our relationships.
A common issue that might come from this is not refilling the proverbial glass. If you’re general relationship view is as everything is copacetic, you might end up neglecting your partner’s needs. And if someone isn’t getting what they want and need out of a relationship, no amount of wishful thinking is going to keep that relationship alive. Eventually, the unfulfilled person will leave.
A Healthy Dose of Pragmatism
To say that optimism may be harmful to how you manage your relationships does not mean that you should turn into a pessimist. Rather, you should at least have a healthy amount of pragmatism regarding the world around you. Enough so that you can identify issues, prepare for them, and attempt to solve them.
Some recent studies showed that pessimists may live longer and are more often in a higher socio-economic class than their optimistic counterparts. It is explained that the pessimist or as I would rather call it, pragmatist, are better prepared to deal with life’s hurdles, especially regarding economics and health.
For those who have drunk the Norman Vincent Peale Kool-Aid, need not despair. It just takes a little bit of a philosophical adjustment to move from false optimism to a more realistic optimism.
Doctor Clifford Lazarus give defines healthy and unhealthy optimism with these two examples respectively:
- "We've got a real mess on our hands, things don't look too good, but if we tackle it step by step, we can probably do something about it."
- "There's nothing to be concerned about, everything will be just grand."
Dr. Lazarus also suggests that not only does the eternal optimist gloss over real problems, but they can make it difficult for others to effectively express their true feelings. It can be hard to express the negative feelings you might have to someone who doesn’t seem to take those feelings seriously. You can surely see how this positive action might have a detrimental negative effect on a relationship.
Tending the Embers
If we want our relationships to last, we can’t get lazy. Relationships take quite a bit of effort, but the reward is well worth the work we put in. If our outlook is always on the sunny side of things, we will become complacent in keeping that spark alive.
It would be reasonable to consider the fact that our partner might get bored of the same old thing day after day. So it might be a good idea to mix things up and surprise our mate every once in a while. This is by no means pessimistic … it is just a reality that we just might have to deal with over time. If we gloss over something like this, our partner might get too bored and start looking for something new.
Finding a Balance
So, can optimism ruin relationships? We believe that it definitely can. But there are still plenty of benefits to having a positive attitude, we just need to augment our positivity with a healthy bit of pragmatic consciousness so that we don’t overlook real issues that we need to tend to … whether in our relationships or other aspects of our lives.
What is your opinion on this matter? Let us know in the comments section below!
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