There are so many accomplished professionals who wear their perfectionism as a badge of honor. They’re ambitious, successful, and determined. But those same qualities that translate into success in the workplace can cause issues for our romantic lives.
Perfectionists often walk a fine line between smashing success and catastrophic failure. If it isn’t perfect, it’s terrible. In the workplace, those instincts are moderated by coworkers and deadlines. In our romantic lives, it’s rarely so black and white. If you’re struggling to find a perfect match, or quick to call things quits after the first sign of friction or conflict, it might be a sign that your perfectionist tendencies are holding you back.
Here are some signs to look out for if you think that might be you:
You have high expectations. For yourself, for your partner, and for what the two of you will look like as a pair. It’s good to have high standards! It’s healthy to have a sense of what you want in a relationship—but it’s important to make sure your expectations are understood and communicated clearly.
If you’re placing high expectations on your partner without articulating them, it’s a recipe for disaster. Without knowing what your standards are, your partner will let you down, leaving you frustrated that things aren’t going according to plan.
Know which things are important to you, and be open to compromise on things that aren’t.
Conflict Is Seen as Failure
Perfectionists have a tendency to view any conflict as a setback that signals fundamental incompatibility. If it feels like even minor disagreements are a bad sign for the future of the relationship, that might be a sign that your perfectionism is in full effect.
No matter how much we want it to be perfect, relationships are very rarely that. In reality, conflict is a natural part of every relationship. It can be healthy or unhealthy. When partners disagree on things but are willing to work together and understand each other’s viewpoints, that’s a form of healthy conflict.
Learning to handle conflict without feeling like it’s a failure is a key part of building a strong foundation for the future.
Loss of Individuality
When you think about your ideal relationship, what does it look like? Do you picture the two of you joined at the hip, sharing hobbies, interests, and political ideals? It’s very common for perfectionists to believe that a successful relationship is one where romantic partners do everything together, but it’s unrealistic.
In dynamics like this, you may feel threatened or annoyed by your partner’s interests and hobbies. You may find yourself setting aside your own goals and pursuits to spend more time on theirs.
This loss of individuality is likely to lead to frustration and resentment. It’s important for you to celebrate and support each other’s individuality and sense of independence.
Defensiveness & Reactivity
Feedback is a touchy subject for perfectionists. When you see everything in the black and white of success and failure, any criticisms can lead to a blow-up or withdrawal. For perfectionists, negative feedback can signal rejection, judgment, and danger. It’s not uncommon for perfectionists to react defensively to a perceived attack.
Over time, big, defensive reactions strangle good communication. Partners of perfectionists learn to avoid giving feedback. A lack of communication results in unmet needs and frustration. And if their partner hits their breaking point, the end of the relationship may come as an unexpected surprise.
Don’t beat yourself up too much (hard for a perfectionist, I know!) Understanding those tendencies is key to getting a handle on them. It’s good to have high standards, but it’s important to manage them! If you’re interested in learning more, feel free to reach out to learn more about anxiety treatment