Perfectionism is a behavior where a person projects social pressures upon themself that they must achieve at no less than a hundred percent, but no matter how good they do, they believe the audience wants more from them. That drives the desire to find “absolute perfection.”
Perfectionism in relationships can be rewarding and risky. A person wants a partner who is encouraging, supporting, and challenges them to be the best version of themself.
The problem when you’re dating a perfectionist, they have the notion that the partnership and everything about you will meet their unrealistic expectations of perfection.
That can not only affect your mental wellness and theirs, but it will prove detrimental to the relationship, likely meaning the end.
That requires honesty, vulnerability, and dedication toward realistic expectations, establishing a connection with genuine needs, a struggle for the perfectionist’s mindset, but necessary for a strong relationship.
Learn about perfectionism vs. OCPD vs. OCD in this video:
Can perfectionism ruin a relationship?
When you’re struggling with perfectionism, there is a definite possibility of ruining a relationship because the bar is set so high that a mate might not meet the standard.
That can only lead to a feeling of failure for you since your goal is perfection. This is projected onto the partner, causing you to resent the other, which can only negatively affect the partnership.
What are some ways perfectionism affects partnerships?
Perfectionism in relationships dictates that a mate will hold a partner to the same standards they carry for themselves. That means the significant other will never be able to meet their expectations, and failure is almost inevitable.
Check out a few ways you could be sabotaging your partnership with romantic perfectionism.
1. Your partner finds it difficult to satisfy you
Because of the unrealistic expectations you set for yourself, your mate, and the partnership, you are never fully satisfied because perfectionism in relationships is unattainable.
2. There is always discourse and bitterness
Despite your desire for the ideal relationship full of happiness and joy, there is always upset and contention because someone makes a mistake or fails to reach that bar that’s set so high.
Living with a perfectionist means expectations are met because anything less is intolerable, unforgivable, and unacceptable. The perfectionist is not forgiving because, to them, there’s too much to lose when someone “fails.”
4. It either is, or it isn’t; there’s no in-between
When you attempt to discern what perfectionism is in a relationship, it’s almost as though there are no “gray areas,” it either is or isn’t. When a partner breaks an intention, the conclusion is that the mate doesn’t love you despite the 1,001 things they do to prove otherwise.
5. The person is not necessarily your heart
When striving for the “goal” of love with a partner, you find the idea of “love” or attaining that vision or idea more appealing than the real mate you’re in the partnership with. That can only lead to someone getting hurt.
10 ways perfectionism damages relationship
Looking at how perfectionism affects relationships, you could see how a mate would eventually become exhausted attempting to be the definitive version of the person you want them to be to satisfy your desires.
There are unrealistic expectations, but there’s a need to control perfectionism in relationships. Look at how perfectionistic tendencies can damage partnerships here.
Because you like to be in control, spontaneity is not your strong point. You want things carefully planned and to remain in order. Anything that strays from that is cause for panic.
This podcast with Dr. Ellen Hendricksen, a clinical psychologist, discusses anxiety and perfectionism.
2. Comparisons are sometimes essential
Perfectionism and relationship mean that a partner is held to only the highest standards. How do you know what these are? You compare your partnership against what you believe everyone else’s to be and try to best that.
Again, that is unreasonable since no one can know what happens behind closed doors with another couple. Still, you presume and hold your mate accountable because your relationship doesn’t appear to be as strong.
With your perfectionist mindset, your mate needs to strive to be the best version of themself which would mean reaching for perfection. When your partner doesn’t do well or misses an opportunity, you are exceptionally critical of them as you would be with yourself.
Your ideology is there should be no mistakes; instead, work tirelessly to make sure all efforts are always fruitful.
4. Mental scorecards are maintained
In that same vein, instead of merely criticizing for what you perceive as failures, you keep these mistakes a partner makes in a “mental notebook.”
In this way, when you do something that’s not quite up to par, you can remind your mate of all the less than favorable episodes they’ve had throughout the partnership.
5. Conflict is a sign of failure
In most healthy relationships, conflict is natural when you recognize passion, opinions, and emotion. That doesn’t mean you’ll constantly be arguing or need to take a trip to the therapist.
When there is perfectionism and anxiety in relationships, the idea of conflict at all is viewed as a failure. This mindset means partnerships should be “sunshine and daisies” at all costs.
6. Lack of compromise or communication
With perfectionism and intimate relationships, there’s not a sense of normalcy in the way of a healthy partnership where issues are discussed, and compromises are made.
The perfectionist likes to keep everything in a neat little package with them in control, and compromising on their ideal is not part of that concept.
7. The focus tends to be on the negative instead of the good
With perfectionism in relationships, you tend only to see the negative ignoring the good things a mate might do. You miss out on joy and happiness since most of that comes from the little things.
Everyone will make a mistake here or there. When you focus on that and make it huge while neglecting what worked, you make a part of that person crumble, which doesn’t make you so perfect.
8. Your avoidance makes a mate suffer too
You tend to avoid social circles, family, and friends because you’re uncertain you’ll say or do the perfect thing, or perhaps you might not look exactly as you should, causing you to stay home and distressing your partner since you miss time with their close friends or family.
Abandoning social activities can cause a mate to become resentful, or as time passes, they can become bored or even somewhat concerned over this fear of getting out and having fun.
9. The honeymoon phase is the “baseline”
The honeymoon phase for the perfectionist deems the ideal version of what love should be, addictive, intoxicating, exhilarating, and something they want to maintain regardless if that might require a different partner with whom perhaps the euphoria will withstand the test of time.
Unfortunately, the perfectionist’s imperfect mindset fails to see that being in love with your mate over time and with a commitment is different from the initial stages where you’re falling in love. Until you can gain insight into those differences, you’ll never find the ideal attachment version.
10. Procrastination is a perfectionist’s trademark
Perfectionism in relationships means a mate will need to wait on you much of the time because you tend to drag your feet in most situations. After all, there is always that fear of failing with whatever you try.
In some cases, there’s such great concern about making mistakes or not coming out on top that you choose not to attempt at all. That in and of itself is self-defeatist and sort of a failure by giving in to fear.
If you recognize you’re struggling with perfectionism in relationships, that’s a significant first step in overcoming the behavior.
Most everyone has an emotional upset, a trauma, or perhaps a behavior they’re trying to come to terms with to progress healthfully in their partnerships and life.
How do we figure it all out and make the advancements? Some don’t figure out the cause for continued failures with mates. Still, when you have an idea, it’s wise to take measures, whether with a counselor or in therapy, or even research the tools you’ll need to overcome the issue.
If you want to stop being a perfectionist, we’ll look at a few tips on how you can do that, and then perhaps you can also reach out to a professional who can guide you a bit further.
1. Stop presuming when it comes to your partner’s previous lifestyle
You’re trying to learn how to get rid of perfectionism; an excellent way to start is to stop presuming your mate had a better life before you. You’re competing with an image that you know nothing about and projecting this onto your partner, who is utterly oblivious to your thought process.
It’s important to realize that this person is with you. Even if their former partner was in better shape or form, it doesn’t matter. If you need any details, communication is the way to an end. You need to take the words as they’re provided and let them go.
This book focuses on self-worth and self-criticism, offering many tools and exercises to help you learn to cope with those aspects of perfectionism.
If you feel your partner doesn’t meet your desired expectations genuinely, you need to move on to someone more adequate.
Keep in mind that the standards you’re setting are likely too high for most people to satisfy. No one is perfect. All people, including you, mess up every so often.
If you don’t like how someone does something, you do it. Problems solved, and you’re happy.
3. Focus on the positives
Overcoming perfectionism means focusing more on the positive aspects of the partnership and your mate and less on the relationship’s mistakes, flaws, and negativity.
Instead of making a huge deal when something goes wrong, you’ll celebrate the little things; perhaps your partner will take out the trash without coaxing, a victory worth praising.
4. Stop procrastinating
When learning how to stop being a perfectionist, one step is to let go of the fear that you won’t be good enough and move forward. That will mean no more procrastinating or dragging your feet when it’s time to participate in an activity or task. You will progress along with confidence.
5. Accept mistakes as learning experiences
In that same vein, when experiencing perfectionism in relationships, you will make mistakes. It will be a matter of understanding on your part that no one is perfect, not even you, and that’s okay.
Eventually, you’ll grow to be accepting of that and find that these mistakes are not failures but instead learning experiences that help us to grow as people.
When you’re learning how to overcome perfectionism, it will not come overnight, nor will it be as simplistic as it sounds. It will take time and significant effort, plus perhaps counseling sessions, to bring you the tools you’ll need to learn how to cope appropriately.
While you’ll want to do it alone as the perfectionist that you are, this is something you might need to accept some help with to undo that to break you free of that staunchest mindset. You’ll see a bit of assistance relieves you of stress.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Sylvia Smith loves to share insights on how couples can revitalize their love lives in and out of the bedroom. As a writer at Marriage.com, she is a big believer in living consciously and encourages couples to adopt this principle in their lives too. Sylvia believes that every couple can transform their relationship into a happier, healthier one by taking purposeful and wholehearted action.