perfectionist in relationships

Ask Dr. Nancy about Real Conscious Relationships

Are you a perfectionist in relationships?

Perfectionism occurs in many people to varying degrees. The degree of your perfectionism has a lot to do with how much it interferes.

Some indicators that you are a perfectionist include:

  • Finding something wrong with every relationship you have
  • Becoming upset with your partner over small things
  • Making too much of projects together, having to have them go perfectly- For example, on a trip, getting upset if the map is incorrect, or the directions lead you astray, or at home, sending back food too often at restaurants
  • Holding onto upsets or bumps in the relationship
  • Refusing to accept others as they are, especially if it does not affect you in the relationship
  • Wrong making – when something goes wrong, blaming the partner because the movie wasn’t good or the food was cold at a restaurant.

Perfectionism destroys relationships, and is one of the main reasons why couple fight, have disharmony in their relationships and break up. But the perfectionist is just one part of the “Inner Committee,” and need not rule the whole you.  Everyone has various parts of the self that participate in relationships and life. While your committee includes some of the same characteristics, others differ and perfectionism is one that differs. If you think of other parts of the self that may be more effective in relationships, you can stop letting the perfectionist rule.  For example, you may feel that you have a compassionate, understanding nature, or that you have a playful inner child, or even a nurturer. Putting those parts of you in the drivers seat when in a relationship and letting the perfectionist take a back seat works beautifully.

Some tips to address this part of the self include:

  • First and most of all, ACCEPT YOURSELF. Accept your perfectionism so that you don’t add insult to injury by being as hard on you as you are on others! Once you accomplish this, the rest becomes easier.
  • Begin counseling to address the behaviors if they are severe OR if you have a history of broken relationships related to perfectionistic traits
  • Accept others for who they are and resist the temptation to try to change them
  • Stop at Excellence. Perfection is impossible but excellence is attainable is all parts of life
  • Understand that a relationship is not the same as a fitness plan, work activities or keeping your home.  It cannot be controlled and monitored and steered in a specific direction unless it is one that both partners agree upon. Even then, both partners should have equal participation in making relationship plans. A relationships is a constantly building and changing part of life and if you participate fully without judging the other person, it will proceed within its natural potential.
  • Remember that the perfectionist is only ONE part of the personality. Don’t let it run the whole show.
  • Finally, if your relationship does not work out, learn from mistakes so that you don’t make them again. Journal your thoughts and feelings after a breakup, watch the “mental movie” of the relationship from beginning to end and see the red flags that may have occurred so that you can avoid them next time.

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