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Idealization and Disillusionment in Intimate Relationships: A Review of Theory, Method, and Research


Department of Human Development and Family Studies, College of Human Sciences, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX 79409-1230 (


We review the literature on partner idealization (also known as positive illusions) in the field of close relationships. Our review assesses the soundness of idealization research from conceptual, theoretical, methodological, and evidentiary perspectives. In addition, we explore the potential linkage of idealization to the newer and seemingly related construct of disillusionment. Given the apparent role of disillusionment in relationship dissolution, explication of the role of idealization in disillusionment would benefit the field. To this end, we present an initial model of mechanisms that may govern relations between idealization and disillusionment to guide future research.