In college, perfectionists are everywhere. They’re the people in the library studying until 2am on a Saturday. They’re the roommates that leave you Post-It’s asking you to clean the dishes in the sink. They might even be the person whom you’re in a relationship with. They might even be… you.
A perfectionist sets very high standards for themself (and others), enjoys doing things that are “good” or the “right” way, and focuses on avoiding mistakes. In relationships, a perfectionist might act controlling. They’ve got their partner “whipped” and everything the couple does is on their call. They love the feeling of being in control and working toward success.
For the person in the relationship with the perfectionist, it’s not fair. If they are naturally a very relaxed, go-with-the-flow type person, it could be hard for them to date someone that seems so controlling. This could cause them to do things their partner would deem “shady,” like talking or hanging out with people their partner doesn’t like behind their back.
The problem with being a relationship perfectionist is accepting that there are some things (many things) in life and love that you cannot control. For example, as much as you wish your partner would stop doing that annoying tick they do, or wish they’d figure out their career path post-graduation, it’s all up to that person. You can encourage someone all you want, but a person has to want to change himself or herself to actually change.
So, what can you do to calm your perfectionist tendencies and have healthy relationships? First, figure out what you want in a partner and what you want in life. When you’ve got your life figured out, you can focus all your energy on working on yourself rather than someone else.
Second, do some internal reflection. Learn the virtue of patience. When you realize you can’t control everything and that it’s OK to forget about what “should” or is “supposed” to happen to you two, life will become a LOT easier – and even more beautiful! Learn how to sympathize for others, too. You can’t always break down and rebuild things when there’s a problem. When you sympathize you encourage people rather than try to change them altogether.
You know what they say, opposites attract. So if you’re a perfectionist and in a relationship with a free bird, don’t act too surprised. Take some tips from your partner and learn to just ‘be.’ Better to be happy than right all the time!