The Effect Of Perfectionism And Eating Disorders On Relationships:
One of the most important things in a relationship is
knowing that you and your partner are on an even playing field. However, for a person who struggles with an
eating disorder, and addictions constant comparing and the strive toward perfection can taint
a good relationship formula. When a couple or individual strives to become the
“perfect” partner or couple neither is possible or desirable. In
fact, strong perfectionist traits usually prevent healthy relationship
formation. Rather than experiencing a full and healthy range of emotions, a
perfectionist often vacillates between two primary emotions—dread and relief.
The up and down pattern of dread and relief endlessly repeats itself in the
life of a perfectionist, and partners and children often bare the whip lash of
In fact, perfectionists spend most of their time dreading
the next potential failure, and successes are met with a feeling of temporary
relief, rather than with a feeling of satisfaction in having done a thing well.
Self-esteem does not build from feelings of relief, or the temporary reprieve
of having succeeded at something. Lacking a deep and consistent source of
self-esteem, failures hit especially hard for perfectionists, and may lead to
long bouts of depression and withdrawal in some individuals.
Further, perfectionist individuals are often hypersensitive
to perceived rejection or possible evidence of failure, and there is a
fundamental rigidity in the relentless stance of preparing for failure.
Unfortunately, when an individual is caught up in the throws of perfectionist
striving, that person is likely to be less interested in developing a healthy,
mutually satisfying marriage and more interested in chasing the elusive rabbit
in his or her own head.
Along these lines, partners of perfectionist individuals
often comment on their partner’s emotional unavailability. It is very hard for
a perfectionist to share her internal experience with a partner. Perfectionists
often feel that they must always be in control of their emotions. A perfectionist
may avoid talking about fears, inadequacies, insecurities, and disappointments
with others, even with those with whom they are closest. Naturally, this
greatly limits emotional intimacy in a marriage.
Perfectionist individuals can also be fiercely competitive,
even with their partners. Feelings of inadequacy may set the stage for downward
social comparison within their own homes. Celebrating the victories of a spouse
may be especially hard if such success threatens a perfectionist partner’s
sense of being the more intelligent partner in the relationship.
The exhaustion that comes from striving to be perfect can
also lead a perfectionistic individual to give up in the face of obstacles. A
marriage of equals is hard to create when one (or both) partner(s) are
perfectionists. A marriage of equals is a partnership between two people who
see each other as true equals. Not only must they be true equals, but both must
be open to influencing each other continuously in order to become perfect for,
and irreplaceable to, each other. When perfectionism has been conquered,
healthy self-esteem can flower, and when it does, you are much more likely to
attract someone with the potential and desire to work at becoming the perfect
partner for you as opposed to the perfect specimen of human.
with perfectionism in your relationships?