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Dating Den Episode 137 – With Dr. Margaret Rutherford: How to Date When You Are a Perfectionist
Marni speaks with a Clinical Psychologist with over 25-years of experience in working with people battling perfectionism. Dr. Margaret Rutherford recently released Perfectly Hidden Depression: How to Break Free From the Perfectionism that Masks Your Depression, a book she wrote to acknowledge the hidden epidemic of perfectionism and how it can be more damaging to your life than you know.
Key takeaways from this episode:
Identifying the hidden epidemic of perfectionism
The beauty of being vulnerable when dating
How perfectionism can block intimacy
How to recognize and release childhood patterns that no longer serve you
How to self-soothe after implementing behavioral changes
How Perfectionism Leads to Depression [2:23]
For most of our lives, many of us heard that perfectionism is a good character trait. Striving for excellence has been a common thread taught to us by parents, professors, and work colleagues. But, perfectionism is a critical aspect of depression and it gets too little attention.
Dr. Rutherford explains that it begins to become a problem when our perfectionism is fueled by shame and goes rogue. If perfectionism leads to a feeling of low value or failure, that’s when we need to inspect our motivations.
People who identify with depression based on perfection go to great lengths to hide their vulnerabilities. They try to control what other people think about them. Sometimes people who struggle with this can describe emotions but are unable to express their pain.
There is an emphasis on perfection in the world of social media.
How Perfectionism Blocks Intimacy in Dating & Relationships [5:52]
When people become uncomfortable with stating their vulnerabilities it can impact their lives in dating and relationships. Sharing with others can open up a wellspring of emotion and increase life and relationship satisfaction. If perfectionists don’t share with others they will never know if they will be accepted.
Perfectionism can impact your ability to choose a good partner because if you feel someone isn’t perfect you will feel as if you are settling. If your ‘picker’ is based on finding perfection you will never find what you seek. Women can sabotage perfectly possible relationships by holding men to the same standard of perfection they hold on to and it’s impossible to attain.
Perfectionism is Rooted in Our Childhood [22:39]
Do you take responsibility for everything? Do you manipulate your world so that you are always in control? Maybe you were yelled at or an alcoholic mom, or you believed you only had value if you were the best every time? Many perfectionists had to create a survival strategy to endure their families. But, why do they continue the same behavioral patterns as adults?
To move past these survival strategies and grow, look at the emotional connections you may be suppressing. Does it scare you when someone knows too much about you? It could stem from being taken advantage of or made fun of in your childhood when you reveal your vulnerabilities. Acknowledge your perfectionism and honor it for how it helped you survive in the past. Acceptance leads to personal growth. Go slowly and have compassion for yourself. It is a process that will take time but you are worth it.
Make a Connection:
“When you show your vulnerabilities and imperfections it can create a connection with your partner.”
“Your vulnerabilities empower you when you reveal them to yourself and people you trust.”
“Acceptance is far from resignation. Acceptance promotes growth and invigorates hope.”