Why It's Unhealthy to Put Someone on a Pedestal

13 September, 2020
Putting your partner on a pedestal is unhealthy. Read on to discover why!

Having a deep connection with someone is so magical and gratifying that it can blind you to reality. What you experience as a result of certain emotional connections, on top of your own deficiencies and desires, can lead you to have a distorted view of some people. However, putting someone on a pedestal can be dangerous and harmful on many levels.

Identifying, valuing, and highlighting the positive qualities of the people you love is a good thing. However, if you idealize them and deny their flaws, it makes it impossible for you to see them for who they really are. When you put someone on a pedestal, your own personal expression can suffer. Let’s see why.

A woman with hearts over her eyes putting her partner on a pedestal.

What does it mean to put someone on a pedestal?

You may not realize when you’re idealizing someone. The way you feel when you have high regard for someone is, on the surface, pleasant and positive. You admire their virtues, enjoy their company, and feel fortunate that you’ve found each other. The problem arises when you forget that this person is another imperfect human.

You may feed that ideal image so much that you completely lose your capacity for objective analysis. Identifying negative aspects of your partner doesn’t mean you don’t love them. On the contrary, accepting someone fully, with all their positive and negative traits, improves any relationship. Putting them on a pedestal doesn’t help at all.

Idealization in relationships

Idealization is common in romantic relationships. The biochemical reactions that occur when you fall in love with someone are often responsible for this phenomenon. However, if everything follows its natural course, over time, you’ll get to know your partner better. You’ll settle into a more honest phase of the relationship. In this more mature stage, you see each other for who you really are.

However, if you have low self-esteem, a fear of abandonment, or you’re young and new to relationships, you might get stuck in the mentality and feelings of the first stage. Putting someone on a pedestal doesn’t just mean exaggerating their good qualities. It also involves attributing characteristics that they don’t even have and being blind to their weaknesses. Instead of seeing a flawed human, you consider your partner perfect, infallible, and superior (to you and everyone else).

One of the biggest problems with this is that it can foster submission in the relationshipIf your partner is “perfect”, then everything they say and do is correct. Idealizing your partner can also make you focus excessively on them and neglect other important areas of your life.

The idealized person also suffers

Paradoxically, the person you put on a pedestal also suffers because they’re carrying your unrealistic expectations on their back. They feel the pressure and fear the consequences of not fulfilling them. Your partner also might feel like you don’t truly know who they are or that they have no drive to grow and develop.

This dynamic is very common in romantic relationships but it also occurs with coworkers, relatives, and friends.

An unhappy woman hugging her partner.

How to get your partner off the pedestal

If you’ve noticed this tendency in your life, and you want to stop putting people on a pedestal, start by taking the veil off your eyes. Try to analyze the situations, conversations, and actions of each person in an objective way.

Ask yourself what you really think. Don’t be afraid of the things about your partner that you dislike. If you truly love someone, you have to let them make mistakes. See them as an ordinary human being, flaws and all.

At the same time, take steps to empower yourself. Often, the reason why you feel admiration and fascination for what you see in other people is that that’s what you want for yourself. Work on yourself to become the best you can be!

  • McNulty, J.K. & Karney, B. R., (2004). Positive Expectations in the Early years of Marriage: Should Couples Expect the Best or Brace for the Worst? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 86 (5), pp.729-743
  • Fernández Calixto, M. C. (2015). El proceso de idealización en las relaciones de pareja-una revisión de la literatura (Bachelor’s thesis, Uniandes).