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Perfectionism and romantic relationships

Perfectionism can take a toll in our marriages and romantic relationships. On the surface, our partners may enjoy the benefits of having a perfectionist in their life. Maybe they have a clean, organized home, maybe they get to do less as their partner takes on more and more over time, or maybe they have a partner who takes care of her body.

But when we let our perfectionism go too far, it undermines the things our partners really want, deep down: They want to be in loving, compassionate relationships where they are accepted and valued for who they are, flaws and all. (And I hear you, there may be a lot of flaws! 🙃)

Our perfectionism may lead us to be unreasonably harsh with our partners. The famous researcher John Gottman points to the need for a 5-to-1 ratio of positive to negative events in a marriage. Our perfectionism – and its tendency to cause us to see imperfections, gaps, things to improve – limits our ability to be as positive as we need to be to sustain a healthy marriage over the long haul.

Our black-and-white thinking as perfectionists may cause us to be erratic -- shifting from one extreme view to another and seeing our partners as either completely amazing or completely flawed, leaving our partners feeling disoriented, anxious and confused.

Or perfectionism can cause us to feel ashamed of our bodies and limit intimacy. Because perfectionists are focused on faults that may be uncovered by themselves or their partners, we may feel fear or reluctance related to sexual intimacy. As opposed to a perspective that accepts the imperfections of our bodies as natural and human and beautiful.

As we do the hard work of unwinding some of our unwanted patterns of perfectionism (while maintaining the positive qualities we want to keep!), our romantic partners may benefit as much as we do. They get to experience a kinder, more relaxed relationship, one where they are loved for who they really are, one that feels more deeply vulnerable and intimate. But in the process, they may need to give up some surface-level benefits they enjoy from having a perfectionist in their life. But when asked if it’s a worthy exchange, they ultimately recognize it is.

Join us and experience what it feels like to breathe greater life back into your marriage or romantic relationship – giving it the space to deepen, the freedom to loosen up, and the language you both need to work through challenges as they arise.

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