You’re just perfect – or not!

Looking at your partner through rose-tinted spectacles

You’re just perfect!

We look at the “falling into and out of love” pattern on our NLP Core Skills course.

It goes like this:

  1. We meet someone we like
  2. Get to know them better
  3. And, as a result, begin to fall in love with them
  4. This creates a filtering process in which we recognise more things we love about them.

So far, so good.

You’re not perfect anymore!

Things are so good we decide they're perfect - or pretty nearly perfect.

So we decide to live together and maybe get married. And for the first few months or even years things get even better.

Then we start to recognise what, while we are fine and just as free of faults and flaws as when the relationship started, the other person has changed.

Time for change

They have developed imperfections. Sometimes this heralds the end of the relationship: after all, who wants to live with someone who’s not perfect – we’d better look for someone better!

More often we begin a campaign to change them.

We try to to turn them back into the previous perfect version.

Surprisingly, our campaign is not welcomed – despite the fact we’re just doing it for their own good.  No, they don’t recognise this and strenuously resist our efforts to mould them into our ideal version of themselves.

It’s all to do with our filters

In reality they haven’t changed very much.

They never were perfect. We just ignored their imperfections when we were in the New Love phase of the relationship – that phase when we only see the good things about them and are blind to the big picture of them and their personality.

Now time and familiarity have worn away the unrealistic image we had of them during the New Love phase.

Happily many people then switch on their Wonderful Complexity filters – where they can see the wonderful complexity of the other person and their different ‘sides’ - good, not-so-good, endearing, irritating, fun, serious, weak, strong and so on.

But many refuse to accept this reality. They want Mr or Ms Perfect back and they are determined to make this happen. Resulting in a life-long battle.

The solution?

The solution is to recognise how our virtual filtering process works and to re-evaluate how we perceive our partner. It’s the subject of this week’s Pegasus NLP Newsletter which you can read in full on our website.

This was originally published in June 2013 and revised 28 March 2019.


  1. Russell B on 14th June 2013 at 5:14 PM

    Hello Reg, thanks for the blog post and the Newsletter article, its certainly something I can relate to and you are perceptive with your understanding of filters in relationships and how couples ‘see’ each other. It is something I will bear in mind for my future counselling/coaching work, Russell

    • Reg on 17th June 2013 at 11:10 AM

      Thanks, Russell: The interesting thing about the virtual filters is that we are using filters to recognise the filtering pattern – so there is the risk of only seeing what we set out to see.

      So, for example, when we are use the Satir Stress Modes to recognise patterns of behaviour we are setting our filters to only recognise the 4 main stress modes.

      But, as long as we know that we are doing this kind of selective observing, it can be a very useful process in understanding how people do things.

  2. Kathy on 14th June 2013 at 5:34 PM

    Love your articles! The one comment I have is that there certainly are situations where the person you meet hides their real character, and then the anger, violence and other such behaviors come out at a later time. Some of us, when we find we are in such a situation, may blame our “filters” and wonder how we have changed to cause this behavior. While I’d like to think they were not hidden from me in the beginning of the relationship, I certainly would not have selected this “life partner” had I seen these qualities at first.

    • Reg on 17th June 2013 at 11:18 AM

      Hi Kathy: I fully agree with you. And I have seen this particular scenario many times.

      And, yes, in that scenario there is a strong temptation to think “it must be me – it can’t be them – they can’t have changed that dramatically, that quickly”. And to hang on in there in the hope of converting them back to being the kind of person they appeared to be.

      It’s a good temptation to resist – which it seems, reading between the lines, you successfully resisted 🙂

  3. Martyn on 16th June 2013 at 9:37 PM

    And this same principle can be used in every relationship. Steven Covey summed it up with : “the way you see the problem is the problem”

    • Reg on 17th June 2013 at 11:20 AM

      Hi Martyn: Yes, he did. It’s one of the things that Stephen Covey is very good at – encapsulating big concepts into succinct comments.

  4. Margaret Johnson on 17th June 2013 at 8:28 AM

    Looking at this as an outsider as a perspectives exersise neither person is right or wrong, They each have their own reasons for seeing the situation the way they do. Perhaps the female has a car that she wishes to keep away from other cars in the car park to lessen the risk of damage and sees the walk as the price she pays for that or even exersise. Or perhaps the time spent looking for a space closer to the store she finds frustrating and prefers to use her energy walking instead and sees her partner/ brother as lazy.
    Perhaps he does not have to be concerned with the dents and dints on the car from other careless opening of doors(car parks are notorious for the lack of space afforded to each vehicle because ultimately the resell price will not directly affect him or maybe he finds walking any distance difficult for some reason. Or maybe he just got out of bed on the wrong side that morning/ had a hangover/ doesn’t want to go shopping. We will never know as it was not an exersise.
    I am sure Reg you had your reasons for ordering the Newsletter article on this in the way you did. I on the other hand would have ordered it differently, but then I am not your editor.

    • Reg on 17th June 2013 at 11:26 AM

      Hi Margaret: Thanks for the comment. And, yes, I agree there could be many ways of interpreting the situation. And each observation that you or I make will have a potential counter-observation or counterexample or some other “yes, but…”.
      And, for me, in every article there is the temptation is to write so that I cover all possible variations. And to end up, not with a 1000 word article, but with a little book in which each chapter argues against the premise of the previous one. 🙂

  5. Margaret Johnson on 17th June 2013 at 8:56 AM

    Looking at relationships and filters we all tend to have filters on our behaviour as well as the rose tinted spectacles we wear when attracted to the opposite sex. We also want to be attractive.
    When we are in a professional situation the way we interact with people will usually be very formal and polite especially to begin with as this shows respect for others, similarly when we meet people socially. As we become familiar with a person we relax speech and allow them to see our likes, dislikes our irritations and our vulnerable spots. These are good reasons for letting a relationship develop over a long period and not rushing headlong into any sort of partnership.
    A holiday is often when people really let their hair down and we see them in a different light. Watching how someone behaves with others especially family sometimes tells us a lot about them in a short time if we have the vision to see.

    • Reg on 17th June 2013 at 11:42 AM

      Hi Margaret: Thanks for the additional comment. Yes, good idea to allow a relationship to develop over a long period as in the old saying “marry in haste – repent at leisure.”
      What happens between the rose tinted spectacles phase (which I nicknamed New Love) and the You’ve changed” phase is fascinating, interesting, and quite sad. It’s summed in Familiarity Breeds Contempt. But that just sums it up – it doesn’t explain how it works nor how we can avoid it. Maybe there’s an article there for the future.