Perfectionism in Relationships (7 Ways to Overcome It)

by April Maccario

Are you struggling to figure it all out? You are not alone! We all suffer from hurts, habits, and hangups!! However, when it comes to sorting these things out for our relationships, it can be a little complicated. After all, we want to see success, right? So, how do we determine which hurt, habit, or hangup we have, and how do we overcome them?

If you already suspect that you struggle with perfectionism, you are miles above so many people! Many people just wander through life, wondering why their relationships keep failing without being able to pinpoint the cause. I’m not saying that it’s your fault in any way, but if you are demonstrating perfectionism in relationships, that could be a problem

You have taken a brilliant first step by recognizing perfectionism in yourself and by looking for the answers somewhere outside of your mind! You probably have a million questions and are searching for the right answers. 

What has caused you to have perfectionism, and how can you best start overcoming perfectionism so that you can begin to have healthy, smart relationships? This article will explore this topic and try to give you the many answers you seek. 

What is Perfectionism?

I guess I thought perfectionism was more of a thing of the past, but apparently, according to Healthline, new research has shown that young adults are even more perfectionistic than their elders. The word makes you think that the person who is inflicted with this problem wants to be perfect; really, that isn’t quite the case. 

It’s basically relating to always wanting and expecting the best out of life - something that can be both a blessing and a curse. Have you ever wanted everything to be in such a way that your expectations are truly unrealistic? Have you tried reaching for the stars only to discover that you weren’t aiming high enough?

One example that comes to mind for me is when I would come home from school with a graded test that would read, “A+ 99%,” and rather than getting any kudos for doing a good job, my folks would want to know what I missed - the reason for the 99% rather than 100%. This is an example of perfectionism - having unrealistic expectations that no one is capable of reaching.

The Cause of Perfectionism

There’s actually nothing physically wrong when having high standards and wanting the best in life. However, if you frequently set your standard so high that no one can reach them, you may find yourself alone and lonely because no one will measure up. You may have been brought up with perfectionist parents, like mine, who expected too much from you.

Alternatively, you could have just raised the bar for yourself over time. Maybe the self-doubt and negativity you felt blossomed into full-blown perfectionism and anxiety every time you felt the need to be perfect but couldn’t measure up. You may simply think you are not good enough for your own standards, which is creating a no-win situation for yourself. 

How to Overcome Perfectionism

1. Don’t compare yourself to others

It’s very easy to read all about the happy couples that show up with the perfect family photos on Facebook or Instagram. Why are they all wearing matching outfits, anyway?? Stop paying attention to them! It’s just going to make your perfectionistic tendencies to start overflowing. I guarantee you that their lives are not perfect, either. 

Work on your self-awareness rather than on what everyone else is doing. They probably have the same problems you do; they are just hiding them well. 

You can talk to your partner about what you think is lacking in your relationship if you feel it’s warranted, but otherwise, just go with the flow and enjoy what’s happening in your life, not in the lives of others.

2. Don’t make assumptions about your partner’s past

Sure, we’ve all had a past; that’s what makes us who we are today. Does that mean your partner’s past was better than yours? Is that really even important right now? Don’t just go around assuming that your partner has had better sex, a better wife, a better girlfriend, and so on. In fact, stop making assumptions! They won’t get you anywhere.

If you can’t turn off your mental pictures, ask him or her to share a bit about their past and take what they say for face value - and nothing else! You don’t need every detail, and guess what? They aren’t in the picture anymore, you are! You won in the end, so forget about the past! That will get you nowhere really fast!

3. Have realistic expectations

perfectionism in relationships

If you truly believe your partner is not good enough for you, you need to move on and find someone you can like better - a person who meets your standards (if there is such a person). 

Otherwise, realize that there are no perfect people out there. Everyone makes mistakes (including YOU), so lower your standards and be realistic with what you expect from your partner! If you think they open cans the wrong way, do it yourself rather than complaining about it. That’s a simple fix that will leave everyone happy!

4. Realize your strengths and weaknesses

Yes, even you have weaknesses. Your partner has strengths, too. He or she may not get everything right all the time, but I bet your partner does things right more often than you give him or her credit for. Focus on what he or she does right, and give them credit. Show appreciation for the little things in life! You’ll get much further that way!

5. Be confident

Instead of spending time focusing on your faults and flaws (or on that of others), think about the things in life where you succeed. Everyone is good at something, so let your light shine. Stop thinking so much about the things you feel you need to improve upon. This makes you a negative person who only sees the wrong in life. You don’t want that.

Be confident in your strengths - the things you do well - rather than the many things you feel you need to do better. We all have stuff we could do better, but you don’t have to focus on that to be a quality person in a relationship. Each day, if you strive to be a little more positive in everything you do, you will be surprised at the benefits you’ll see.

6. Realize the love your partner has for you

realize the love your partner has for you

Many times, people think of all their faults and assume their partner thinks the same thing. Did you know that your boyfriend or girlfriend probably knows all your flaws but accepts you the way you are? The perfectionist in you probably thinks that there’s no way that he or she could love you with all those flaws, but they do!

Don’t become so much of a perfectionist that you cannot see the beauty you hold and that which your partner sees in you. After all, they are still with you, right? And they are with you for a reason! If you don’t understand what that could be, ask for clarification. You might be surprised by the many answers you receive!!

7. Pick your battles

It’s true that with a perfectionist, you can expect them to be pretty particular with what they want and how they want it done. If that person is you, lighten up a bit when it comes to the faults you find in your relationship. Decide what’s truly important and bring up that subject instead of the way he opens cans with the can opener!

I mean, is that really what you want your fights to be about? Pick the more important issues to discuss (at the right moment, of course), and talk that over rather than the petty stuff you could just let go of. When you learn to let go of the small things, you’ll be surprised by the freedom you will feel with your relationships. Try it!

FAQs

How does perfectionism affect relationships?

Often, in a relationship, a perfectionist will have sexual performance anxiety because he or she will be comparing themself to past lovers, which freaks them out. They think they cannot possibly measure up to what is going on inside their head - what they believe to be true.

Is perfectionism a mental disorder?

People who suffer from this usually have OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), which is a psychiatric condition often characterized by the person needing everything to be neat, orderly, and clean all of the time. Those are just a few of the symptoms you could expect to see.

How do you deal with a partner who is a perfectionist?

If you have decided to make it work in a relationship with someone like this, make sure you understand what is in store for you. You may never be able to measure up to their standards. If you are a patient person who doesn’t get upset easily, keep that up!

What is emotional perfectionism?

With emotional perfectionism, there is no room for negative emotions. Instead, the person believes that they should never feel negative emotions, only positive ones. This can cause them to have a false sense of happiness at all times, as they try to keep up with these high standards.

Are perfectionists narcissists?

Not all narcissists are perfectionists and vice versa. Many are, but that isn’t a requirement for either type of disorder. You may feel like your partner has both characteristics, and he or she may! However, that doesn’t mean one caused the other one to happen.

To Sum Things Up…

Are you a perfectionist? Do you often feel like others cannot measure up to your standards? How has this affected the relationship you are in? What nuggets of advice do you have for others who are like you? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments section below!

April Maccario
I'm a huge nerd when it comes to understanding how relationships between men and women work, and what drives a certain behavior. I spend much of my time getting into the nitty-gritty and try to share my findings on this site with the hope of making life a little easier for women that are struggling in their relationships or love life.

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