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How to Stop Idolizing Relationships

How to Stop Idolizing Relationships

We’ve all been there – placing unrealistic expectations and desires onto a relationship or person, hoping they will somehow fulfill us or “complete” us. While relationships can bring great joy, relying on another person to be the sole source of our happiness is simply unrealistic and sets us up for disappointment.

In this article, we’ll look at why we idolize relationships to begin with, the negative impacts this tendency can have, and provide actionable steps you can take to stop idolizing relationships and find fulfillment from within instead of without.

What is Relationship Idolatry?

Relationship idolatry stems from a lack of self-worth, sense of purpose or direction in life. When we do not truly love and appreciate ourselves, it is easy to place that responsibility onto another person instead. We seek to fulfill our emotional and psychological “needs” through romantic partners rather than from within.

There are a few key factors that can contribute to this idolatrous mindset:

Unmet Childhood Needs – Those who lacked unconditional love, validation or stability as children may seek to retroactively “fill that void” in adulthood through romanticizing relationships. They place unrealistic expectations onto partners to provide what was missing years ago.

Low Self-Esteem – People with poor self-image often rely on external factors like relationships and accomplishments for self-worth rather than developing an internal sense. This leaves them vulnerable to basing their happiness on another’s acceptance.

Lack of Purpose – Without hobbies, values, or life goals to give context and fulfillment, some view relationships as the purpose or main focus in life. This is misguided and puts undue strain on any partnership.

Fear of Being Alone – Some subconsciously or consciously fear autonomy, so cling tightly to the comfort and distraction that relationships provide from facing themselves. However, this prevents true independence and growth.

Recognizing the root causes behind your own relationship idolatry is the first step to shifting your mindset. Don’t beat yourself up – this is an extremely common issue to work through. With self-reflection and effort, you can overcome these drivers and gain clarity.

The Negative Impact of Relationship Idolatry

Now that we understand where relationship idolatry stems from psychologically, let’s review some of the very real ways it negatively impacts our well-being and partnerships when left unaddressed:

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Unrealistic Expectations

Placing your entire happiness or fulfillment onto another person sets them up for failure, as no one individual can possibly meet all your complex emotional, social, and personal needs. Daily life has ups and downs, and relationships require effort – idolization glosses over this reality.


Deriving your self-worth from your partner’s opinions, validation or affection breeds an unhealthy codependent dynamic. You absorb their emotions as your own and cannot function independently without relying on them to “complete” you.

Loss of Identity

When your sole identity revolves around being someone’s partner rather than your independent interests, skills and values, you lose sight of who you are outside of the relationship. This makes personal growth impossible and leaves you vulnerable if the relationship ends.

Control Issues

Idolizing a relationship often stems from fears of abandonment, so you try to control your partner’s actions and decisions to avoid being left. However, this damages trust between you and pushes them away through resentment and feeling smothered.


The desire to avoid real or imagined threats like loneliness leads some to rush into commitment milestones before truly knowing their partner or being secure on their own. This cuts short the process of authentically learning about one another.

In short, relationship idolatry fosters codependency, loss of self, jeopardizes healthy boundaries and places unrealistic social expectations on ourselves and our partners to “fulfill” us in ways no one person can. The harm is evident – so how can we shift away from this mindset?

Breaking Free from Relationship Idolatry

The following action steps can help you adopt a healthier mindset around relationships, break free from idolizing partners, and derive fulfillment from within instead of without:

Focus on Self-Development

Cultivate interests, hobbies, values and goals that give your life meaning outside of romance. Pursue education, career passions, faith, service and personal growth daily. Develop a strong sense of identity so you no longer rely on others for worth.

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Practice Self-Love Daily

Make it a habit to appreciate your inherent value regardless of relationships or external factors. Treat yourself with compassion through positive self-talk, acts of self-care, and by recognizing your flaws do not lessen your worth. Develop unconditional love and acceptance for who you are.

Maintain Independence

Pace yourself in relationships. Value spending time alone as much as with others to avoid codependency. Maintain your individuality, friendships and sense of autonomy within partnerships rather than losing self completely. Structure your life in a healthy balanced way.

Improve Self-Esteem Naturally

Do not rely on partners or accomplishments to feel good enough – develop intrinsic self-esteem through daily affirmations correcting any negative self-talk. Replace fears of abandonment with unconditional self-acceptance so you no longer need others’ approval to feel whole.

Set Healthy Relationship Boundaries

Stand up for your needs instead of abandoning yourself to “keep” someone. Express feelings in a kind yet assertive manner. Value consent, compromise and independence as much as togetherness so you both feel secure in yourselves before the relationship.

Be Selective with Commitment

Take time to authentically get to know partners before agreeing to serious milestones like cohabiting or marrying to avoid rebound tendencies or idealizing them prematurely due to fears. Learn who they are, and that they are still imperfect humans capable of growth just like you are.

Maintain Perspective

Understand no one person should be relied upon exclusively – relationships experience ups and downs due to life’s complexities. Foster healthy support systems beyond romance like community, faith and activities so you cope well during challenges instead of deriving sole stability from partners.

Finding Fulfillment from Within

With patience and practice of these tangible steps, you can shift the focus in your life from idolizing others to developing self-love, purpose and security from within. Authentically connecting with another then becomes an enriching complement to your already joyous existence rather than the sole determinant of your worth or happiness.

True fulfillment stems from cultivating compassion for yourself and others daily through kindness in thoughts, speech and actions. It grows as you honor your inherent value by nurturing your mind, relationships and community ties rather than clinging desperately to any one person or outcome.

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Overall, stop viewing romance as the be-all-end-all cure for what feels lacking. You already possess wonderful qualities and the natural ability to lead a purposeful, contented life whether partnered or independent. By shifting your mindset from unhealthy idolization to appreciating each moment and person as a cherished yet temporary part of your journey, healthy self-love, and thereby healthier relationships, will follow.


Q: What if I still feel empty without a relationship?

A: It’s normal to feel lonely at times, but true fulfillment comes from within, not without. Focus on developing hobbies, community ties, personal growth, and self-love through daily affirmations and care. As you strengthen your independent well-being, feelings of emptiness will fade.

Q: How do I stop putting partners on a pedestal?

A: Remember everyone is imperfect and work in progress like you. Focus on authentic connection by seeing your shared humanity rather than idealizing them. Set healthy boundaries by valuing consent and compromise. Maintain individuality within the relationship.

Q: What if past relationship trauma causes idolization?

A: Heal through self-reflection on how past hurts drive current behaviors. Consider counseling or support groups. Practice daily self-care and self-affirmations. Recognize unhealthy patterns and replace them with compassion for self and others through honest communication of needs. Healing takes time – be patient and trust your inherent worth.

Q: How do I love myself if I have low self-esteem?

A: Fake it till you make it by surrounding yourself daily with people who value you. Do activities you excel at to build confidence. Compliment yourself genuinely through affirming mirror work or journaling. See setbacks as lessons versus character flaws by showing self-compassion. Remember every person has innate value regardless of perceived strengths or weaknesses.

Q: Isn’t some reliance on a partner normal in a relationship?

A: Yes, interdependence and teamwork are healthy parts of intimacy. However, deriving sole identity, purpose or worth from another leads to codependency issues. Maintain well-balanced individuality, boundaries and support systems beyond the relationship as these foster secure attachment and longevity in partnerships over time.



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