Behavioral Psychology

Seeing Flaws Or Seeing Potential In Your Partner

By  | 

Many people go into a relationship with the underlying goal of changing their partner. They view this person as a project. The plan is to eradicate all of the flaws and problem areas in order to create the ideal specimen.

Obviously there’s a lot wrong with this situation. For one thing, flaws and problem areas are riddled with subjectivity; what is a flaw to one person is a desired attribute to someone else. The attitude is selfish and controlling, its goal to mold a living, breathing human being into a commodity that will meet the molder’s needs, with little regard for the authentic needs of the person being molded.

Of course this is all rationalized under the rubric of “I’m doing it for their own good” but it’s one of the oldest rationalizations in the book, used by abusers of all stripes all over the world. It’s not for the good of someone else when what you are doing is primarily meant to benefit you.

But many do have the best interests of their partners in mind and want to help them grow. It comes down to seeing flaws or seeing potential. Both attitudes might just get the desired behavioral changes but they come from different places and exert a different influence on the psyche, both on the person asking for change and on the person being asked to change.

The first attitude is meant to eradicate what is wrong with someone, so right away it’s associated with negativity, judgment, low valuations of the other’s character. The second attitude is meant to help someone blossom, to see the potential. This attitude makes positive emotional states like encouragement, support and love take center stage. It’s easy to choose which attitude to take. Do you want the one that makes you and your partner miserable or the one that fills you both with joy as you encourage each other to actualize your best qualities?