Perfectionists in relationships

Overcoming Perfectionism in Relationships - ANTI-LONELINESS




What is Perfectionism in Psychology

You have probably heard about perfectionism and its most common traits: attention to detail, strive for perfection, unrelenting standards, wanting to be prepared for all cases, struggling to make decisions, fear of failure, intolerance for mistakes, confused priorities, and generally the feeling that one can never rest because what one has done so far is not enough.

You probably think that this applies only to work or work-related tasks: where you are trying to be a better employee, a better manager, or a better student. However, if you have a perfectionist mindset, it’s hard to leave your personal life out of it. Consequently, your relationships may be affected by this mentality and, unfortunately, they will stop being as fun as they used to be, if perfectionism prevails in them.

How Perfectionism Affects Relationships

A perfectionist is more easily disappointed in a relationship than others. If you are one, you probably don’t allow mistakes in the relationship, and if they happen, they mean more to you than what they actually mean to others. As a consequence, you usually feel that your partner is not good enough for you, and there is someone better out there. Or you decide to go your own way, compromising with the idea that it’s better to be by yourself. You view relationships as “too much work” and “there’s no point trying since no one will understand me”.

In order to understand perfectionism in relationships better, let’s focus on the common beliefs or behaviours of someone who is a perfectionist in their relationship. Note: you don’t need to have all of the below-mentioned features; these are some indicative traits, so that you can understand how perfectionism is expressed in your relationship with your partner.

Perfectionism Test For Relationships

When you are expecting yourself to be a perfect partner:

  • ​You want the "honeymoon" to last forever
  • You try to please your partner and have their needs met all the time
  • After a fight, you are worried that they will change their mind about you or that the relationship is falling apart
  • You view conflict as a failure
  • You work really hard to make the relationship work
  • You place a lot of expectations and roles on yourself and you exhaust yourself trying to meet them
  • You are hyper-vigilant, always looking for mistakes
  • You maximise and overanalyse the significance of small setbacks in your relationship
  • You have a lot of "shoulds" and "musts", rules and theories on "how to be a perfect partner"
  • You are hiding your relationship issues, even from your close friends, trying to preserve the perfect facade​

When you are expecting your partner to be perfect:

  • You fall in love with an illusion, not the real person
  • You expect them to know what you need without you having to tell them
  • You believe that "If my partner were the right one, we wouldn't disagree so much"
  • You get easily disappointed with your partner
  • You always have one foot out of the door
  • You want to do everything together
  • You focus on how you will "fix" them, their habits and behaviours
  • You cannot focus on the present moment and enjoy it
  • You are strict and judgmental towards your partner's mistakes
  • You don't allow them to take the lead or make decisions
  • You don't like "negative" emotions in the relationship, and you try to keep a positive vibe at all costs
  • You need a plan for the relationship
  • You don't cope well with change and uncertainty
  • You can't forgive them if they fail your expectations

How To Overcome Perfectionism in Relationships

We know it’s hard to drop perfectionism and to not get disappointed at your partner when they don’t meet your expectations, but is this the kind of relationship you want to have with them? A relationship where you measure each other and you walk around with a (mental) checklist for you or your partner can be extremely exhausting and there is no room for love, fun and connection in there.

1. Find the roots

First, it’s useful to ask yourself where you have learned this. Perhaps it’s a mindset you “inherited” from your family, where your mother always wanted to have a clean house and be endorsed as the best cook in the neighbourhood, or you have watched your father pretend to his friends that everything in his life was perfect, even though you knew that wasn’t true. Therefore, try to separate their mindset and their values from yours. Now, it’s your turn and you want to be honest and transparent with your relationships and focus on the important, instead of what people will think.
It is extremely useful also to find what is your attachement style and what is your partner's. Perfectionism is related to our attachment style and how we cope with vulnerable feelings, with fears and with rejection. 

2. Remind yourself of the cost of perfectionism

Since there is no such thing as perfection, it is highly possible that if you are looking for the perfect partner, you will keep looking for a long time. It’s painful to look behind and see all the disappointment you felt from your partners and all the goodbyes you had to say when you realised they were not perfect.
Even if you are still in a relationship with a partner, and you see them through the prism of perfectionism, it’s exhausting to change your mind about them all the time, to strictly judge them, to focus on their faults instead of their talents. It’s even sadder to realise only later that there were many beautiful moments, many opportunities for growth and many healthy and positive characteristics in your partner, but you missed them.

3. Practice acceptance

In this tiny moment where you feel disappointed with yourself as a partner or with your partner lies the chance to practice empathy, compassion, humility and understanding, instead of perfectionism. See them as another human being who is imperfect like all of us. 
Instead of disconnecting from them and starting to think that this is not a relationship that suits you, approach them with vulnerability and curiosity. Practicing acceptance will bring you closer and make you happier. 
Ask each other questions, explore possibilities, go deeper. It’s easy to label one person as "wrong", but it’s more useful to try to understand the deeper truth of their behaviour.

4. Connect with your real needs

Perfection is not a real need. Perfectionism is how we cope for the need for safety. Is there any other way you can bring safety into the relationship? Are there any other needs that are more important here?
To name a few: connection, trust, understanding, validation.
These are the needs that you can never meet if you see others or yourself as imperfect because they make you take distance from others. But these things we need most.

5. Remind yourself of healthy relationship qualities

Healthy relationships practice acceptance, not perfectionism. There is a lot of trust, awareness, forgiveness, compassion, honesty, communication and, most importantly, a vulnerability in them. How liberating and wonderful relationships can be when accepting and imperfect!

You are not alone

Perfectionism is one of the most common conversations in individuals and couples in the therapy room. The perfectionistic mindset where we think that we need to master in everything we do and in the people we choose is more prevalent than you think. But it also leads to a lot of anxiety, depression, loneliness, divorces. 
That's why we are changing it. Here and Now. 

Take action now.

  • Sign up for my newsletter here and get the FREE 40-page guide/workbook on Self-Care filled with practical tips that can make your life more peaceful and balanced.  
  • Get your FREE Guide "How much of a Perfectionist are you?" and find out which of the features you own are highly related to your Perfectionism.
  • Visit AntiLoneliness Academy for more workshops and courses on Self-Growth and Relationships. ​
  • ​Book recommendations on Perfectionism:
    • The CBT workbook on Perfectionism: https://amzn. to/3ri7gb6​
    • The Gifts of Imperfection:​
    • The Perfectionism Workbook:​
    • How to be an Imperfectionist:​
    • I thought it was just me:​
    • The courage to be disliked: 
  • Watch our videos with Psychology tips and insights on Relationships, Perfectionism, Anxiety, Burnout, etc. 
  • Read our more articles on Relationships and Perfectionism here. ​
  • Don't let anxiety pull you down, contact me and start your own therapy journey in order to get you out of this negative circle. 
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    To be with someone else in an intimate relationship means that we entitle them with our love, friendship, partnership, etc, and most of the times this is irrelevant of their talents, values, morals. No skill can lead to an emotional decision. Therefore, we can feel the same passion for a hero or for a coward. Being loved is not something we earned (like a job through an interview), but something that was given to us generously, like an unspoken favor. Thus, love means to live in the eternal coexistence of terror and miracle. (Pascal Bruckner)


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10 Ways Perfectionism Damages Relationships and How to Overcome it

In This Article

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.

The core of an authentic partnership is communication and compromise, which would mean the perfectionist would need to “overcome” their tendency toward perfection. 

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.

Also Try: Are You a Perfectionist in Your Relationship?

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.

Related Reading: 14 Ways to Keep Your Relationship Strong, Healthy, and Happy

3. Forgiveness is not part of the relationship

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.” 

Related Reading: Benefits of Forgiveness in a Relationship

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.  

Related Reading: How to Avoid Consequences Of Perfectionism On Relationships

1. A change doesn’t bode well with you

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.

Related Reading: 10 Reasons You Should Never Compare Relationships or Your Partner

3. Critical of your companion

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.

Related Reading: How to Deal With Procrastination in the Relationship-12 Tips

Can you overcome perfectionism in relationships? 

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.  

Related Reading: Should You Tell Your Partner Everything About Your Past or Not?

2. Set realistic expectations

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.

Final thought

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.

The limit of perfection: why perfectionism is dangerous in relationships


The word perfectionism comes from the English word perfect - perfection, and means striving for the ideal - in business, study, life and relationships. There is nothing wrong with striving for the best if you know how to stop in time. The problem is that the characteristics "prone to perfectionism" and "suffer from perfectionism" are separated by a very modest distance.

In other words, perfectionism is good in moderation, and the key is not to indulge it. Let's see why.

The Good and Bad of Perfectionism

Perfectionism is a behavior driven by the pursuit of excellence. This is both a positive trait and a disadvantage - it all depends on how much you are overcome by the need for ideals.

In psychology, a perfectionist is one of the nine basic personality types. The basic desire of such a person in the concept of personality types is to be good, decent, balanced, purposeful, the main fear is to prove dishonorable, to find some flaws.

Many people around the world want to succeed and work towards it, but working hard to achieve goals does not always mean obsessing over perfection. The term "healthy perfectionism" means a habit of quality, but, unfortunately, the craving for perfection rarely remains within the normal range.

When perfectionism flourishes in a person, its harmful side effects are manifested. Dependence on ideals, as a rule, is accompanied by low self-esteem, anxiety about the opinions of others, criticism of other people's deeds and actions, and almost always - procrastination (the desire to put things off until later). More serious consequences include anxiety, panic, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and other psychological ailments.

Perfectionists are spoiled by an innate fear of making mistakes. They tend to keep everything under control, including feelings and desires, especially those that, in their opinion, are contrary to moral standards. They are preoccupied with success, and at the same time they are critical, impatient, stubborn, touchy. The focus on the quality of the result prevents perfectionists from choosing a rational path. It is difficult for such people both to get to work (they think for a long time how to do it “five”), and to complete the job (thoroughly tinkering, redoing a lot). Sometimes they are so afraid of failure that they procrastinate to victory, because in their understanding it is better not to start if the task cannot be performed perfectly.

Perfectionists don't need outside help because they don't trust anyone else to do a better job. And instead of being proud of their success or hard work, they constantly compare their work with the work of others. The dream of a perfectionist is to be the first A student: in class and in life.

How perfectionism interferes with relationships

Romantic relationships with a perfectionist are not easy. Being overly demanding of himself, he/she makes excessive demands on the partner, and is naturally disappointed when faced with imperfection. It is unfortunate that understanding does not come immediately. Unexpectedly descending love can confuse even a perfectionist, but after some time, getting used to feelings, he/she will again take up his/her own - will begin to try on a partner with ideal parameters.

“Striving for perfection is an acquired mindset behind which there is psychological trauma, and possibly more than one,” explains clinical psychologist and hypnotherapist Olga Golosova. - Perfectionism is a developed habit of effort, a shield from reproach, condemnation or shame. In the desire to be perfect lies the need to please, to be worthy of love.

In a relationship, a perfectionist wants perfection from the one who is nearby. The same requirements are put forward for the second half as for oneself . The perfectionist gets hung up on the partner's shortcomings, fearing ridicule from the outside, which reveals other unpleasant traits - the inability to compromise and show flexibility in views.

The higher the bar, the more lonely and misunderstood the perfectionist feels. Unattainable standards lead to an endless search for the ideal instead of working on relationships. And because perfectionists tend to suppress their feelings, it's easier for them to build a wall between themselves and their partner by distancing themselves emotionally and physically, instead of coming clean.

How to overcome perfectionism

To get rid of belief in ideals and distract from the shortcomings of a partner in order to find happiness in love, here are some tips from a psychologist:

  • Focus on the positive, not on the perfection that exists only in your head . If someone or something brings you joy, no matter how imperfect it is.

  • Be patient and understand that not everyone sees things and situations the way you do.

  • Allow others and yourself to make mistakes without getting angry.

  • Learn to relax and trust that the world won't go to hell if you're not always alert.

  • Don't take criticism to heart: mistakes and blunders are completely normal and happen to everyone without exception.

  • Avoid negative influences; The school and parents have already done enough. Do not let social networks and strangers correct your desires.

  • Talk to a specialist. It can be a one-time conversation or a series of meetings, but therapy will definitely benefit and help you understand the reasons that confused you on perfection.

Smirnova Natasha


  • relationships in the work and personal life of a perfectionist - today's publication.

    Perfectionism affects mental health. Perfectionists tend to be motivated and energetic. From the perspective of an outside observer, perfectionists are always happy, cheerful, and full of optimism. If you dig deeper, you will find incredible internal tension that can lead to depression, anxiety, anger, shame, helplessness, and sometimes even suicide.

    Perfectionism also affects physical health. While some people are sensible about exercise and proper nutrition, others are able to drive these seemingly healthy habits to the point of absurdity: from vigilant control over every bite of food to a complete violation of food culture. On the other hand, the principle of “is it worth trying at all” can lead to obesity.

    Along with the stress caused by perfectionism, other stress-related disorders may appear: insomnia, headaches and other chronic ailments. Perfectionists are at risk for alcohol and drug abuse.

    In relationships, perfectionists are very active, especially in such activities as helping a friend or organizing family evenings on weekends. They often put the needs of others ahead of their own health or pleasure. This leads to strained relationships with loved ones: for example, when the "activist" misses his daughter's performance in a sports match or is late for a family meeting. Relatives often feel left out.

    In personal relationships, perfectionism can interfere with physical intimacy: for example, a woman avoids sex because her body is not perfect. Or she is occupied with thoughts: “What sex, when the dishes have not been washed yet?”. It is difficult to remain close to a person who thinks in perfectionist standards. And sometimes it means loneliness. Many are afraid that others will notice their imperfections, and they do not let anyone get too close to themselves.

    A perfectionist tends to project his own high standards onto others. A banal example: a wife clings to her husband because he did not start the washing machine, although he vacuumed the whole apartment to please her.

    Another variety is parental perfectionism. Imagine a young mother who does not allow anyone, including the father of the child, to approach the baby for fear that the other person will do something “wrong”. Or a dad who makes a child succeed in sports, depriving him of his childhood and simple joys. Perfectionist children constantly feel judged and judged. And it seems to them that they will never be able to justify the trust of their parents, because they "do not pull."

    Perfectionism often manifests itself in work, whether it is work in the classical sense, student life or housekeeping. In this case, the perfectionist is either the hard worker who answers email at 2:00 a.m. and is the first to arrive at the office, or the “supervisory executive” who is unwilling (or unable) to delegate despite his workload. And even if he shares part of the tasks, he continues to closely monitor every step of his team.

    Perfectionists find it hard to finish what they start. Many entrepreneurs and small business owners are reluctant to create their own website, publish articles, or make presentations for fear that it will not be perfect. Striving for perfection can lead to difficulty generating ideas or writer's block. Stress resulting from over-correcting leads to a desire to quit rather than to persevere.

    Some perfectionists are extremely demanding of their environment. Many place great importance on details and are overly organized (even their trash drawer is neatly divided into sections!). Even worse, such people can get really upset if something is out of place.

    Perfectionism can affect the money sphere. Many incredibly wealthy individuals (CEOs, movie stars, professional athletes) are perfectionists. There is a feeling that, despite the fact that a person has millions of dollars, they are not enough.

    But not only people with high incomes are characterized by perfectionism. The flip side is the perfectionist procrastination, despondency and decadent moods that occur when a person barely makes ends meet.

    Because perfectionists tend to prioritize productivity over pleasure, it's not uncommon to hear them say, "I haven't been on vacation in years.

    Learn more