It always seems cute when a couple comes up with a totally original Halloween costume idea that incorporates both people and the guy doesn’t look like he was forced into it and walks around miserable all night dressed as something unbearable.
What a couple chooses to dress as actually says a lot about who they are — and where they stand — in their relationship, as ridiculous as that sounds. And if you’re tuned in to the clues, you can determine a lot about how they are behind closed doors.
Theresa DiDonato, a psychologist who has studied this particular topic (yes, everything exists) tells Personal Space that everything from costume negotiations to attending a costume party together may seem insignificant, but what couples wear on Halloween may reveal fundamental markers of relationship success.
Think about it. How a couple decides to dress must center on the needs of the two people in the relationship. Maybe they both want to do their own thing, meaning that they are probably both very independent people, even while in a relationship. Unless you didn’t consider your partner, dressed however you wanted, and then sprung it on them at the last minute ... well then there’s probably a lack of communication there.
DiDonato says that Halloween costumes could be manifestations of relationship closeness.
“From the relationship side of things, couples have different approaches to what psychologists call 'relationship visibility,'” she explains. “We engage in relationship visibility in many ways, if you think about different ways we do this — standing close to your partner, posting pics of them, talking about your partner, for some people this is a really positive way of showing you’re a couple. And that can absolutely be translated to what a couple decides for a costume.”
She adds that there is a certain underlying psychological element that suggests that when you decide to do a “couple costume,” you are showcasing your coupledom.
“People can get upset or anxious when one half of the couple doesn’t want to do it because it can mean a lot to a couple to demonstrate to people that they’re a couple,” DiDonato says.
A really cool way to think about couples on Halloween, she adds, is to understand that it’s an expression of yourself, your self-concept, and tying your partner into that.
“This extension is important in relationships, it’s a transition from ‘I’ to ‘we,’” she says. “For the self to be part of a joint costume, [it] is interpreted as fun and teamwork and a shared interest, and we may see that as a higher relationship quality.”
When both parties have fun with their outfits, it also means you are comfortable being with your partner in a public setting and are comfortable being funny and ridiculous in front of friends and family and even strangers.
“If you really dig apart what’s the psychology behind that, is it more than just a costume,” DiDonato asks. “A lot of our behaviors are more than what they appear. They often have social and attachment needs to them.”
When two people form an attachment and fall in love, fun events, such as Halloween, are a chance to show the world something about their relationship — it’s not even necessarily deliberate. And although matching costumes show off the couple as a unit, keeping your individual style is also a good idea.
“Whereas anxious individuals might use relationship visibility to make themselves feel less anxious and to help their self-esteem, perhaps secure individuals simply feel safe and happy when presenting themselves as a pair,” DiDonato explains. “Your costume choices may reflect relationship quality and you and your partner’s attachment orientations.”
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