You may not have a beautifully organized sock drawer, or have your herbs and spices organized alphabetically, but perfectionistic habits could be holding you back. The sad truth is relationships can be ruined by perfectionism. Understanding what it is and how to soften it, is a good way to avoid the risk this streak in you may be putting your intimate relationship under too much pressure.

If you find yourself striving to get the job done right and have trouble delegating because you can’t trust others to do it correctly,  you may be seen by those in your life as a “control freak”  or a “micro manager”. The problem with this way of operating is that these demanding standards you set for yourself  and others can mean you are really avoiding being seen as a failure. Of course you want to make sure you do your best work, but when this starts to become obsessive, you have a problem. It becomes hard to expereince satisfaction and contentment becasue you quickly achieve one goal and then move onto the next in a continuing unsatisfying cycle.

It’s important to understand that Perfectionism comes from an anxious mind, which is often creative and beautifully imaginative. However,  when creativity is being used to imagine bad things happening that feel unbearable, your mind is no longer helping you. Fear (F.alse E.vidence A.ppearing R.eal) can create thoughts that can drive your behaviour to do whatever it takes to avoid the scary outcome.

Welcome in perfectionism and say good bye to happy and contented intimate relationships with yourself and others!

When perfectionism takes hold, it’s not in a “ooohhh wow…. let me gently remind you of what could go wrong… just in case you’ve forgotten…. kind of way” but more in an “ooohhhh let me stay with you and look after you and never let you go” kind of a way.

Perfectionism can be stubborn and persistent and although protective at times, it can be suffocating and so exhausting for both you and the person that loves you. Maybe you think ” I’ve always been like this, I can’t change.. it is just my personality”. Yet do you think little kids are perfectionists? I think it comes from what we learned when we were little about how to feel safe, how to handle fear and what to do when we made mistakes.

How do I know I am a perfectionist? Besides I am far from perfect…

When perfectionism gets its grip on you it can tend to think in “all or nothing” terms – if it isn’t perfect, it’s bad/wrong/stupid. It becomes a kind of one sided and indeed lop-sided way of experiencing life. If you catch yourself doing a lot of black and white thinking you may be a fellow sufferer!

In the longer term, if you are in a relationship with a person who suffers from perfectionism, then you may find them getting stressed, snappy and withdrawn. This is the fall out and can cause them to give the wrong things too much priority.For example, is your home immaculate at all times? Do you hate it when there is mess or disorder in any part of your life? Do you laughingly describe yourself as “a bit OCD? When these high standards make it hard to handle mess, then the other person in the couple suffers! The problem becomes that neither person in the relationship can relax easily and well with each other.  The constant high standards lead to frustration and resentment when they cannot be maintained in the midst of a normal haphazard busy life. Reality becomes stressed and has too much striving to be perfect all the times and this can drive couples apart. After all who wants to live with a critical person, who cannot be satisified with a bit of normal everyday chaos?

This is when perfectionism starts to feel not that perfect……actually it starts to feel kind of awful and hard to live with!

Relationships have delicious highs and miserable lows. Healthy ones involve being able to tolerate this normal reality and learn from the downs and celebrate the highs, together. The good news for intimate relationships is that there is a way off the merry go round of perfectionism.  Perfectionists that learn self-kindness and compassion, end up being able to thrive in long term relationships with a greater sense of satisfaction and togetherness. They become used to being able to make mistakes, manage disappointments and handle fear in a way that does not expect their partners to be “perfect” either. If you struggle with perfectionism and need help to  learn to lighten your emtoional some support from friends, family or a professional to learn to go easier on yourself and all those that you love around you.