I once had amazing boyfriend who sent me a note in the mail every day for a month while I was living in Dublin. Every note had something he loved about me and a drawing of two people running towards each other day by day, and when I put all the pages together they made a flipbook of two stick people running towards each other step by step until they reached the middle and kissed!
I told him his loveyness was making me feel sick.
I couldn’t accept his love for me, it literally made me feel nauseous.
I used to constantly want to change my boyfriends. By jove I tried to. I got annoyed with them and snapped at them even when they behaved like prince charming. It annoyed me that they didn’t meet my perfectionist expectations, and when they did, I raised the stakes or got annoyed with them for being too nice.
I now realise that I was treating them how I treated myself –
I judged and criticised myself for not being perfect, even though I didn’t know what perfect was.
And so I judged and criticised my boyfriends in the same way.
I was so hard on myself, I certainly didn’t love myself and it got in the way of my ability to unconditionally love anyone else, nor accept the love they showed me.
I have a friend who is a serial dater, no matter how awesome the girls are that he dates, he always find something that’s missing. He doesn’t find them exciting or passionate or interesting enough for the long term, or there’s just not the zest for life that he’s looking for.
But upon psychoanalysing him, which I know I shouldn’t do, I’ve concluded that it’s because he doesn’t see those things in himself anymore. Like me, he’s a chronic perfectionist, and hates when things aren’t done right. So, when he looks at his great life, he doesn’t see perfection, he just sees the areas where he’s missed out or lacking. And then he judges himself for failing in those areas. So in relationships, it’s no wonder that all he sees is the bits where the other person doesn’t quite fit the bill.
As humans, we have a constant drive to push ourselves, to constantly better ourselves,
to keep up with or do better than the rest.
But this makes for a lot of negative self-talk, self-criticism, judgement and guilt when we don’t meet our own high expectations. We tell ourselves that we’re a failure; that we’re not good enough, not smart enough, not pretty enough. Yet when we DO meet our own expectations, we brush it off like it was nothing and ratchet the bar a notch higher.
If we want to be more tolerant and loving towards our partners and loved ones, we’ve got to first look at our own life. Where are we not being tolerant and loving towards ourselves?If you’re a perfectionist/ control freak like me, your only option is to learn to accept imperfection, Click To Tweet
first in yourself, and then in others. Eventually you’ll come to love it.
What I previously saw in myself as faults and imperfections, I now see as quirks and things that make me unique, and I see the same in others now – the more unique and quirky a person is, and the more willing they are to own their imperfection, the more I love them.
So if you find yourself snappy-trouting around your partner or love ones, do a little stocktake.
And then give yourself a break. Have a Kit Kat.*
*This is not an endorsement for Kit Kat. Those things are yuck. Who puts biscuits in the way of a perfectly good chocolate?