The perfect couple fallacy

One of my favourite children’s stories is this story called The Gruffalo. It’s about a clever little brown mouse that manages to avoid predators by using “pull” with this made-up creature called the Gruffalo, which has the scariest features of all predators in the deep dark woods. Eventually, the little brown mouse comes face to face with this creature that it thought it had made up, and then it cleverly manages to escape from being preyed on by this creature as well.

I’ll tell you why I am telling you this story.

Recently, I launched this audio series called “Behind The Scenes” where I interviewed happily married couples about their relationships. I learnt that every relationship is so unique, and the people even more so. There are things these couples instantly loved about each other, and things they’ve had to acquire a taste for over the years. What made each of these couples so unique is the journey of their relationships, and how it has made each of their lives richer together.

But if I were to pick the parts of every story that fit instantly and manufacture an artificial “perfect couple” out of it, it would be fabulous.

But you know what? I wouldn’t be the first person to do it.

EVERY single romance novel or movie does this so well. They paint a picture of this perfect couple who have almost no challenges of their own except the ones posed by the world around them. The idea of a perfect couple comes from this notion that every relationship follows the same template, and the lesser they deviate from this template, the stronger they are.

So, regular people like you me are like the fox, the snake and the owl in the Gruffalo story - we believe it to be true. What if there really is a perfect relationship that has the best parts of every awesome relationship in the world - we don’t want to miss out on the possibility of being in such a relationship. We don’t want to risk being called pessimists.

But let’s face it - much like the little brown mouse, we all know this image of a perfect couple is made up. I mean, come on, we’re not that stupid, are we?

But when you see these regular people on the internet (7 million+ if you were to believe Instagram), who tell you that their relationships are as flawless as their picture quality, suddenly, you’re confronted with the Grufflalo in real life.


You thought perfect relationships weren’t real.

So, you go on a mission to prove yourself right, hoping that you are wrong. Does that sound familiar?

You go on a stalking rampage to investigate who this couple is and why their relationship actually seems like one out of the movies? You don’t realise that they’re being like the little brown mouse that is carefully constructing this fake imagery about their perfect relationship that has the best parts of every relationship in the world.

No, that’s not it.

You know that this is a carefully constructed story, not the full picture of their reality or how they go there. Yet, you can’t help yourself from getting hooked to their lives to the point where you start believing everything they’re saying to you (or themselves), and extrapolate the way you like both in the past and the future.

But if you’re as clever as the little brown mouse, you’ll take a little walk with the Gruffalo, and see it up-close. You will start to realise that the Gruffalo isn’t as killer as it appeared in your head, and that you’re smarter than that.

The end.

Moral of the story: A perfect couple is a fallacy, but if you’re an optimist, good luck finding your Gruffalo.

More from Shapely Gal

Here’s a little sneak peak into some of the projects I’ve been working on…

Behind The Scenes: This is LIVE! Can you believe it? I am so very grateful to all the couples who made it happen. These seven conversations have been so insightful in learning about relationships and marriages. If you haven’t checked it out yet, you can listen to this audio series on YouTube, Spotify and Google Podcasts.

Courses: The two courses on loving yourself and loving someone else have now gone private. People need to sign up to have access to these videos and exercises. It is an experiment, and I’d like to see what comes of this.

Sneak peak into what I’m reading/ watching/ listening to:

Where should we begin - This is Esther Perel’s podcast which features married couples who are going through relationship therapy. I found this podcast so incredibly powerful.

Apps for married couples: I was trying to research resources that are available to married couples in order to improve their relationships, and I found this article that lists several apps for couples, super interesting.

Shapely Gal song of the month: Better without you.

Shapely Gal is a monthly newsletter that discusses love, relationships, marriage and the various markets these are traded on. This newsletter is a concoction of observations, theories, ideas, real stories, figments of imagination and sometimes just rants on romantic relationships.