Life

Ditch the Dream Date: Love Perfectionism Is Ruining Your Relationships

I was chatting with friends a few days ago and found that although everyone has different worries in love relationships, they have similarities:

▨Little A has a Crush whom he has liked for a long time, but he has never dared to meet him. She always said, “When I lose another 10 pounds, I will definitely ask Crush out.”

▨Little B has been in love for almost a year, but feels that he doesn’t like the other person that much. Little B attributes the reason to, “He is completely different from my ideal boyfriend.”

▨Little C’s love always ends within half a year. Because as soon as it enters the running-in period, she will stop. “If it’s true love, there won’t be so many differences, right?” This is Little C’s question.

Although the three friends express themselves in different ways, they all seem to have a “perfect” fantasy when it comes to love.

In psychological research, this may be due to falling into the dilemma of “romantic perfectionism” , which refers to: rigidity and setting unrealistic standards for oneself and one’s partner in a relationship (Hewitt & Flett , 1989).
Perhaps, some people may have doubts about why they don’t pursue perfection very much in normal times. They tend to be lazy when doing housework and want to sleep flat when doing work, but when it comes to love, they become “perfectionistic”?
This is because a person may be perfectionistic in only one area of ​​life but not in all areas (Stoeber & Stoeber, 2009).
In today’s article, we want to talk about what kind of problems “perfectionism” will cause if it occurs in love.

01 What are the impacts of the three types of “love perfectionism”?

According to the findings of psychologists Hewitt and Flett (1989), there are actually three different types of “perfectionism”: perfectionism that “demands oneself”, perfectionism that “demands others” and perfectionism that “demands society”.

In intimate relationships, these three different types of perfectionism will also have different manifestations and impacts.

1. Self-requiring perfectionism: I am good enough to deserve “love”

Love perfectionists who demand themselves are expecting “themselves” to be better.

They always hope that they are a 100% “perfect partner”. Therefore, in relationships, they often feel self-blame, such as being dissatisfied with themselves and feeling that what they have done is not good enough. If this sense of self-blame is too strong, it can also lead to depression (Hewitt & Flett, 1990).

Such people will also shy away from intimate relationships. Psychologists Halgin and Leahy (1989) argue that perfectionists “avoid intimacy” because they fear that opening up to others will lead to vulnerability, ridicule, and eventual rejection.

Just like in the movie “A Little Thing About First Love”, the heroine Xiao Shui must become “prettier” and “have better academic performance” before confessing her love to her long-awaited senior A Liang before she dares to take that step.

This may be because Xiao Shui always thinks that he must be very good in order to be loved and accepted.

2. Demanding perfectionism from others: Always expecting your partner to be the “right person”

Love perfectionists who demand others are expecting “the other person” to be better.

In their hearts, there may be a firm belief that only a partner who meets their various expectations can truly be regarded as the “right person.”

Therefore, before entering an intimate relationship, they may have sketched out a specific portrait of the “right person” early on, such as: outstanding appearance, very gentle, willing to spend a lot of money on themselves, and must have the same interests. …

However, this kind of expectation that your partner should be “perfect in every aspect” is bound to lead to disappointment.

Perfectionists who demand others also create more conflict in relationships due to unfulfilled expectations.However, they tend to be impatient, irritable, authoritarian, and even excessively blame their partners during conflicts (Hewitt & Flett, 1991).

Because they have been dominant for a long time, this type of perfectionist can even create “actor effects and partner effects” in intimate relationships (Kenny, Kashy, & Cook, 2006).

It’s as if one person has set up the script and rules of this love drama, and all his partner needs to do is cooperate with him to complete the performance.

3. Perfectionism required by society: My love must be envied by others

The perfectionist required by society expects “relationships” to be better.

This type of perfectionist will feel that there is always a pair of eyes looking at them and that others have very high expectations of them. Therefore, they will hope that their relationship will be seen by others as a “model of love” that is perfect and worthy of blessing.

Perfectionists required by society may find it difficult to adapt to changes and adjustments in relationships because they fear that their “role template” will be shattered .

For example, when the initial “honeymoon period” of a relationship gradually ends and conflicts between the two parties begin to emerge, they may respond to conflicts in more negative ways such as sarcasm, nagging, demanding changes, blaming their partners, etc. (Haring et al., 2003 ).

02 Behind the love perfectionist, Maybe you all have a pair of “strict” parents

Many psychological studies have shown that “love perfectionism” is mainly formed in people’s early life experiences. Among them, the role of parents plays a very key influence.

1. Authoritarian parents are more likely to raise children who “pursue perfection”

Psychologist Baumrind (1966) summarized three different parenting styles: authoritarian parenting, permissive parenting and authoritative parenting. Among them, parents with authoritarian parenting are most likely to raise children with “perfectionism” tendencies (Damian LE, etal. 2021).

Authoritarian parenting includes the following characteristics:

▨Parents always treat their children with a strict attitude;
▨Expect children to abide by all imposed rules and have excessive expectations;
▨Attempts to shape, control, and evaluate children’s behavior and attitudes.

Parents with this type of parenting style make criticism a daily routine but are stingy about recognizing their children’s performance.

This causes children to have a distorted understanding of “love”: only perfection and success can obtain love, while losers are not worthy of love.

2. Parents of perfectionists may also be perfectionists

Perfectionism has intergenerational genetic effects. This means that perfectionistic parents are more likely to raise perfectionistic children.Because children will unintentionally imitate their parents’ “perfection-seeking” behaviors (Cláudia Carmo, etal. 2021).

In the movie “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, the protagonist Wonka may have perfectionist tendencies: he not only pursues perfection in the research and development of chocolate, but also always keeps his teeth clean and white and his hair neat and tidy.

He wanted to find a successor because he “found a white hair” and thought he was old.

This trait may come from Wonka’s dentist father, the man who forbade Wonka to eat all candy because he was afraid that he would have tooth decay. Even though he has been away from his father for many years, Wonka’s pursuit of perfection has always remained in Wonka’s memory.

3. Children who always witness their parents quarreling are more likely to feel “dissatisfied” with their partners

Many studies have confirmed that the relationship between parents will affect the way children get along with their partners in the future.

The study by Cansu Tosun et al. (2021) goes further and links the parental relationship with love perfectionism.

After studying the parental relationship and love status of 246 college students, they found that if parents have experienced authoritarian, neglectful or dependent behaviors in their relationship, for example: one party has absolute requirements for the other, and turns a blind eye to the emotional needs of the partner… …Children who witness these experiences are more likely to feel that their partners are not meeting their expectations.

03 Get rid of the burden of “perfection” and try these 3 tips

If you have already felt troubled by “love perfectionism”, you can try these methods:

1. Be aware of the impact of perfectionism on you

Being aware of your own “perfectionistic tendencies” is the first step to change.

If you feel that some negative experiences in your relationship are related to your belief in perfection, see it and acknowledge its existence.

2. Throw away many “standards” and set three “bottom lines”

For some people, pursuing perfection in love may be to reduce the “cost of trial and error.”

But Shen Yifei, a professor at Fudan University, believes that if you want to reduce risks and don’t want to miss out on love, what you really need to do is to eliminate Mr. Wrong instead of obsessively looking for Mr. Right. This means that the focus should be on formulating the “bottom line for mate selection” rather than the “mate selection criteria.”

In the book “What kind of love is worth being brave once”, Professor Shen Yifei introduced the “three bottom line principles” method:

▨ Think about past relationships and write down on a piece of paper all the issues you find unacceptable in your partner.
▨Cross out which shortcomings are relatively acceptable to you ;
▨ Finally, force yourself to keep only the three points that matter most.

These are the “three bottom lines” that you need to focus on in love.

3. Be your own friend and learn to sympathize with yourself

The concept proposed by psychologist Kristin Neff is called “self-compassion” , which means that you treat yourself with kindness, acceptance and love like your own good friends. Specifically , “self-compassion” includes three ways:

▨Non -judgment: Do not make arbitrary conclusions about your own behavior;
▨Understand your own flaws and failures with a warm attitude ;
▨Tell yourself that there are many people who have done the same thing.

When we can empathize with ourselves as a friend and acknowledge and accept our own imperfections, we will also be more understanding and forgiving of the imperfections of others.

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