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Trying to Find (or Be) the Perfect Partner?

We tend to deal with a lot of relationship issues here on the blog. Most of the relationships we have covered so far are monogamous (although I, and I believe other bloggers here, accept poly relationships, etc.)

So, of the various hats I wear, I happen to have a degree in psychology. I didn’t go into psych for reasons many people suspect, though. I didn’t aspire to help people, be a counselor, or anything like that, even though I have worked as a Mental Health Case Manager. I mostly focused on social psychology because it’s crazy interesting. However, I do get psych updates that may help readers here who have dealt with and are currently dealing with relationship issues. One of my favorite places on the web is PsychCentral. It offers a lot of articles, tests, blogs and areas to talk with people who want to help.

This article at PsychCentral struck a chord with me because I am a recovering perfectionist. I’m told that some of our readership (possibly the submissives, though maybe others) tend to also be perfectionistic. Although perfectionism can be seen as a good trait, in it’s extreme form, maladaptive perfectionism, it can be debilitating and actually cause underperformance. (So it’s also self-defeating.)

We grow up, unfortunately, in mostly a fantasy world in which we are supposed to meet our one, true love and live happily ever after. But anyone who’s lived just a little bit knows that reality is much more complicated. In addition to having a degree in psychology, I also worked at a university as a philosopher for several years, and one of the things I supported was a kind of inherent messiness in the world–in love, in ethics, in politics, in science; in just about everything.

So, I bring this article to my perfectionist readers, to let them know that extreme perfectionism is an undesirable, and self-defeating thing.

Here’s an exerpt:

If you are looking for the perfect partner or trying to be one – think twice. Perfection is painfully unrealistic for individuals and emotionally costly for couples.

While there is no doubt that striving to be your personal best and feeling good about your efforts is healthy as well as relationship enhancing – perfectionism is something else.

Perfectionism is the belief that a state of completeness and flawlessness can and should be attained. The literature on perfectionism underscores that there is an important difference between adaptive and maladaptive perfectionism. It is a difference worth considering.

Adaptive Perfectionism

  • Adaptive perfectionism involves striving for high standards as motivational and encouraging but there is choice in the pursuit. Everything does not have to be perfect.
  • There is emotional resiliency to stay with the training, the studying, the belief in one’s partner despite human error- mistakes are allowed.
  • Failure can be tolerated without threatening self-worth.
  • Those with adaptive perfectionism can still feel positive about themselves, their partner and other aspects of their life – even if they don’t get the raise, score the highest or have the perfect home.

Maladaptive Perfectionism

  • Maladaptive perfectionism is different. Those with maladaptive perfectionism don’t really have a choice to  strive or excel. They have a pervasive need to achieve an unrealistic standard of perfection as a proof of self-worth.



About Jen

Have been a jack of all trades. I'm a former philosopher who specialized in ethics and political philosophy. I'm a sex positive feminist.

One comment on “Trying to Find (or Be) the Perfect Partner?

  1. Very interesting post. Thank you

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