Ah, the allure of perfection! The perfect job, the perfect house, the dream car, or the ideal mate–we seek to find them all–whether they be “perfect” for a moment or for a lifetime. But what is perfection? Why is perfection defined so differently by each of us? How can anything seemingly perfect become undesirable and imperfect at a different point in time? What drives our desire and pursuit of so-called perfection?
According to Psychology Today author, Mel Schwarts, L.C.S.W., “Individuals who seek perfection are acutely sensitive to the judgments of others.” This sensitivity develops during our formative years if we are judged, criticized, undervalued or dismissed by our primary caregivers. When a lack of positive reinforcement and validation exists, we doubt our intrinsic worth and our self-esteem suffers. In response to these doubts, some seek perfection in an effort to rise above internal and external reproach and judgement. For these people, perfectionism is deemed a positive trait. They consider the pursuit of perfection a worthy if not noble endeavor that enables them to become above reproach. While others consider the drive, the inherent critical nature and lack of appreciation for what exists in perfectionist to be far from positive. While we all seek our best outcome in every instance in life, there is a healthy threshold to maintain, as perfection can never be achieved in a lasting manner. We may experience “perfect” moments, but we will never be perfect. Perfection in reality is unattainable. Period.
Yet the pursuit of perfection is alive and well. Never is this more true than in the dating world. Have any doubts? Just ask anyone to describe their ideal mate and they will quickly list a variety of qualities, habits, aesthetics, and behaviors they desire in a perfect mate. Further, they believe their list to be perfectly reasonable and attainable, if only the perfect person would magically appear. But, what would happen if their “perfect” mate actually showed up? Would they also be the ideal mate for their perfect person? Would dating this “perfect” man or woman insure a perfect, happy relationship? Let’s take a closer look at what’s at work here and how it just may create a significant roadblock to achieving dating and relationship happiness.
When we meet someone and find their initial qualities attractive, we are inclined to seek further confirmation of our initial assessment. During this process, if we remain objective, we can begin to determine if our date is a good fit for us in a relationship. When someone is not objective and tends to be a perfectionist, their challenges are three-fold; 1) they may project a “perfect” image rather than their true self, and 2) they may quickly dismiss someone with a perceived imperfection, or 3) may focus only on the positive traits in order to fulfill their hopes and dreams–with an assumption they can “change” their partner’s negatively perceived qualities. Unfortunately none of these perfectionistic reactions will result in a healthy, positive relationship. While it is normal for anyone to selectively filter qualities according to their own personal tastes, it’s important to accept people as they are right now. No one wants to be a perfectionistic “project”. We all long to be loved and accepted for exactly who we are–a unique mixture of traits, thoughts, beliefs, experiences and habits. When perfection is sought it can create greater disappointment down the road when needs go unmet and hidden agendas are not achieved. As the relationship moves forward it will become increasingly difficult to dismiss “unacceptable” qualities and traits that trigger the perfectionist’s fears and judgements.
Not to worry if you tend to be a perfectionist, but you’ll want to become more self-aware and objective to avoid future disappointment. Read our six top posts listed below to become more aware of your own traits, beliefs and factors that can sabotage your love or help you to find the secrets to true self-love and help you find and achieve the love you desire.
- Love Yourself First
- Know Your Worth
- How Fear and Insecurity Affect a Relationship
- Do Your Fears Unknowingly Sabotage Your Relationship
- What Makes a Great Relationship
- 10 Proven Steps to Attain Your Best Life & Relationships
When you love yourself and accept others as they are, you become free of self and other sabotage. You’ll no longer be distracted by fears or thoughts of measuring or grading yourself or the other person. You will become truly free to enjoy being in the moment. It’s in that moment that we’re truly alive. Seeking perfection in ourselves, our partners and our lives, limits our ability to be appreciate all that actually exists in our lives here and now. Ending your pursuit of perfection will enable you to experience the true joy life brings.
We wish you a great journey forward and would love to hear your thoughts and experiences with perfectionism. This is a judgment-free environment and we all learn from each other, so please feel free to share openly.