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Consequences Of Perfectionism On Relationships: How to Avoid


The Consequences Of Perfectionism On Relationships: How to Avoid Damaging Effects

Perfectionism, while often seen as a positive trait, can have damaging effects, especially on relationships. In a world where standards are constantly elevated, individuals may find themselves trapped in a cycle of unrealistic expectations and eternal dissatisfaction. This article delves into the consequences of perfectionism on relationships and provides actionable strategies to reduce its damaging effects.

Consequences Of Perfectionism On Relationships How to Avoid 3

Understanding Perfectionism

Perfectionism means more than just trying to be excellent. It’s about wanting to be flawless in everything, which isn’t realistic. People who are perfectionists set very high goals for themselves and everyone else. They are also afraid of failing or being judged.

Types of Perfectionism

  1. Self-Oriented Perfectionism: This involves setting high standards for oneself.
  2. Other-Oriented Perfectionism: This entails imposing unrealistic standards on others.
  3. Socially Prescribed Perfectionism: This is the belief that others expect perfection from oneself.

Perfectionism isn’t always bad. However, if it’s constant and strict, it can seriously damage relationships.

The Impact on Relationships

1. Unrealistic Expectations

Perfectionists often impose unrealistic expectations on their partners, expecting them to meet impossibly high standards. This creates an environment of constant pressure and dissatisfaction, leading to frustration and resentment on both sides.

“Perfectionism is a self-destructive and addictive belief system that fuels this primary thought: If I look perfect, and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of shame, judgment, and blame.”
Brené Brown

2. Communication Breakdown

Effective communication is the cornerstone of healthy relationships. However, perfectionists may struggle to communicate openly due to fear of vulnerability or rejection. This communication breakdown can hinder intimacy and foster misunderstandings.

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
George Bernard Shaw

Consequences Of Perfectionism On Relationships How to Avoid

3. Inability to Compromise

Perfectionists often have difficulty compromising, as they believe that any deviation from their ideal standards is unacceptable. This rigidity can lead to conflicts and power struggles within the relationship.

“The essence of a successful relationship is not to find the right person but to be the right person.”

4. Diminished Self-Worth

Constantly striving for perfection can take a toll on one’s self-esteem. Perfectionists may tie their self-worth to external achievements, leading to feelings of inadequacy and unworthiness when they fall short of their goals.

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life.”
Anne Lamott

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Strategies to Mitigate the Effects

1. Practice Self-Compassion

Learn to treat yourself with kindness and understanding, especially in moments of failure or setback. Cultivate self-compassion by acknowledging your humanity and embracing imperfection as a natural part of life.

2. Set Realistic Expectations

Challenge the notion of perfection by setting realistic and achievable goals for yourself and your relationship. Focus on progress rather than perfection and celebrate small victories along the way.

3. Prioritize Communication

Create a safe space for open and honest communication within your relationship. Practice active listening, empathy, and vulnerability to foster deeper connections and mutual understanding.

4. Embrace Vulnerability

Recognize that vulnerability is not a sign of weakness but rather a catalyst for intimacy and growth. Share your fears, insecurities, and failures with your partner, knowing that true strength lies in authenticity.

5. Seek Professional Help

If perfectionism is significantly impacting your relationships, consider seeking therapy or counseling. A qualified mental health professional can provide personalized strategies and support to help you overcome perfectionistic tendencies.


Perfectionism can cast a shadow over relationships, breeding discontent and disconnection. By understanding its detrimental effects and implementing proactive strategies, individuals can cultivate healthier and more fulfilling relationships. Remember, perfection is an illusion, but genuine connection and acceptance are real and attainable goals.

“The only way to achieve the impossible is to believe it is possible.”
— Charles Kingsleigh, “Alice in Wonderland”

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Perfectionism and Relationships

1. What is perfectionism?

Perfectionism is a personality trait characterized by setting excessively high standards for oneself or others, accompanied by a persistent effort to achieve flawlessness. Perfectionists often fear failure and criticism and may experience anxiety or dissatisfaction when their expectations are not met.

2. How does perfectionism affect relationships?

Perfectionism can have detrimental effects on relationships by creating unrealistic expectations, fostering communication breakdowns, and hindering the ability to compromise. It can also lead to diminished self-worth and increased conflict within the relationship.

3. What are the different types of perfectionism?

There are three main types of perfectionism:

  • Self-Oriented Perfectionism: Setting high standards for oneself.
  • Other-Oriented Perfectionism: Imposing unrealistic standards on others.
  • Socially Prescribed Perfectionism: Believing that others expect perfection from oneself.

4. How can perfectionism be harmful to communication in relationships?

Perfectionists may struggle to communicate openly due to fear of vulnerability or rejection. This can lead to a breakdown in communication, as individuals may avoid discussing their true feelings or needs, resulting in misunderstandings and resentment.

5. What are some strategies to overcome perfectionism in relationships?

To mitigate the effects of perfectionism on relationships, individuals can:

  • Practice self-compassion and acceptance of imperfection.
  • Set realistic expectations and focus on progress rather than perfection.
  • Prioritize open and honest communication within the relationship.
  • Embrace vulnerability and share fears and insecurities with their partner.
  • Seek professional help or therapy if perfectionism significantly impacts their well-being and relationships.

6. Can perfectionism be beneficial in relationships?

While striving for excellence can be positive, the rigid pursuit of perfection can often be detrimental to relationships. It’s essential to strike a balance between setting high standards and accepting imperfection to foster healthy and fulfilling connections.

7. How can I support my partner if they struggle with perfectionism?

Supporting a partner who struggles with perfectionism involves showing empathy, encouraging self-compassion, and creating a safe space for open communication. Validate their feelings and experiences while gently challenging unrealistic expectations and promoting acceptance of imperfection. Additionally, encourage seeking professional help or therapy if needed.


  1. Brown, B. (2010). The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. Hazelden Publishing.
  2. Shaw, G. B. (2014). The Complete Works of George Bernard Shaw. Delphi Classics.
  3. Lamott, A. (2007). Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. Anchor Books.
  4. Carroll, L. (2009). Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Macmillan Collector’s Library.


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