Perfectionism in relationships

How does it look a “perfect” relationship?

As a perfectionist, you always form an idealized view of the relationship, how should look like, how should be the partner, sometimes we idealize also the way the partner SHOULD love you. You may also believe that couples should never fight, always respect/agree with each other. 

You might find it difficult to form lasting relationships because they don’t need to meet your high standards. 

And guess what? Perfection doesn’t exist!!! It is hard to understand this concept and the attachment to this idea is enormous, it is challenging to let it go..

And yet there are no perfect relationships, because they are made up of fallible human beings – two different people often pulling in different directions!

I don’t say that is not O.K. to have high standards, to aim for the best for you, for what you deserve, but the question is: This aim serves you well or stops you achieving the right relationship you want?

 The perfectionist’s deepest need is for control – where everything is predictable and ‘safe’, and it is that which probably causes the greatest problem in their relationships.

They begin to focus on the negative aspects of the relationship and end up sabotaging them. They become pre-occupied with people’s short-comings, often using ‘all or nothing’ language e.g. “you never get it right”, “you always let me down”. These are the voices they were brought up with and unintentionally play back in relationships. They may exhibit ‘entitlement’, in other words they feel entitled to certain treatment, demand respect, and get excessively frustrated or angry when other people, or the world in general doesn’t measure up to their expectations. They like things to go the way they expect, and generally don’t appreciate surprises – often that includes nice surprises as well! 

Of course another significant way in which perfectionist’s relationships suffer is that they can be very focused on their work – indeed probably most of their compulsivity is expressed through their work. This manifests itself in their driven workaholic-like behaviour. They are often stretched to the limit, constantly tired, tense and unable to relax. Some perfectionists can drive their nearest and dearest crazy with their need for things to be ‘just so’, and this is dealt with further under the ‘Obsessive compulsive tendencies’ heading below. 

“The perfectionist’s deepest need is for CONTROL – when every thing is predictable and “safe” and it is that which probably causes the greatest problem in their relationships. They begin to focus on the negative aspects of the relationship and end up sabotaging them”.

So, my question is where do you put your energy? Do you see the world as a general background for a battle and need for control or an wonderful place where you can fly, pursue your dreams and express yourself?

One thought on “Perfectionism in relationships

  1. Every person NEEDS some control, or some sense of control. And I think the most SEEKED forms of control are: of others, of the future and of the self. These are all correct, but in the reversed order 🙂 .
    Although it makes sense that perfectionism and need of control (and power, according McClelland) are related, I think that if a research is conducted into a wide enough heterogenous population, the motivations will be different. Perfectionism comes from the transactional analysis driver “be perfect” (, and the DESIRE for control can come from all kinds of different sources: levels 3 or 5 of Spiral Dynamics (, McClelland types (, fear of uncertainty (
    I’ve written some articles in Romanian about it:

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