9 Ways Being An Overachiever Hurts A Relationship

by Lily Feinn
Sermrat Saribut / EyeEm/EyeEm/Getty Images

An overachiever is able to find success above and beyond what is expected, ascending to great heights in their school and career. But when it comes to succeeding in love things are not always so easy. Maintaining a healthy relationship can be the Achilles’ heel for many who suffer from the driving need to succeed. Some say due to their overachieving habits, they just don’t have the “skill set” necessary to retain a happy partnership. Overachievers are used to taking on enormous workloads, staying late, shouldering responsibilities alone, so when the time comes to connecting with another human, the dominating lone-wolf nature needs to take a back seat. If they cannot separate the two, overachievers may have to face the one word they dread more than anything — failure.

A relationship is not a short-term goal that needs to be fulfilled and crossed off the to-do list. Many overachievers who are used to thinking about their life as a succession of tasks to complete are not able to change their mindset so they can slow down and bond with a partner. There is nothing wrong with being a passionate perfectionist who loves their work. But oftentimes, what is great for your career is not great for your relationship. So, how can you kill it in the boardroom and in the bedroom? Whether you are an overachiever, or are in a relationship with one, it can help to be aware of some of the pitfalls. The only way one can change their bad habits is by being aware of them. Here's how being an overachiever can hurt a relationship.

1. They Are Workaholics

"Overachievers generally have impressive resumes because they overextend themselves and do not know how to succeed without overachieving," explains Dr. Bridget Ross in her article "Plague of the Overachiever." Sometimes accomplishing so much comes at a cost. Overachievers are first in the office, and the last to leave. They taking on huge projects, because they feel responsible, and they enjoy taking the credit, surpassing expectations, and impressing superiors. In school they studied tirelessly, made perfect grades, and were the president of several clubs. But as an adult, time is a valuable commodity, and you need to be willing to put your partner as a priority. Relationships will falter after the initial attraction if they are not given the attention necessary to create a stable bond and flourish. Playing second fiddle to a partner's career makes one feel unimportant and left out. Even if both partners have demanding jobs and overachieving tendencies, without relaxed time together, the couple will drift apart, and ultimately fail.

2. They Need Control

In order to have a successful relationship you have to give up a certain amount of control. Many overachievers are not great with compromise and tend to prefer to work alone so they can regulate all elements of the outcome of a project or situation. Many believe in their hearts that they can only count on themselves. So when an overachiever is asked to let go, compromise, or delegate many do not have the skills to do so and can breed difficulties in their romantic life.

3. They Are Plagued By Anxiety

"They tend to punish themselves or feel ridden with guilt whenever they relax," says Dr. Ross. And many overachievers feel like if they stop for a moment or do not give over 100 percent they will fail. This anxiety can disrupt their home life and manifest itself in a lot of other emotions such as anger, frustration, depression, and resentment.

4. They Are Never Satisfied

"Good enough" is not a term overachievers use often and average is unacceptable. They will put in the extra work even if it is at the expense of their partner. It's difficult to have a fun night out when they are obsessing about completing everything on their insane to-do list. You essentially have to force feed them a sleeve of Oreos so that they can chill out.

5. They Have Skewed Priorities

By measuring success in goals and achievements and not their own personal happiness, an overachiever's priorities can seem pretty messed up. Overachievers are more likely to flake on social commitments, because they deem work life more important. They go the extra mile at the office leaving them too tired and frazzled to have a fulfilling home life. If they don't get their priorities in order, their personal life turns into cold takeout and falling asleep in front of the TV. Finding balance between home and work is key, because oftentimes paying attention to your partner and their feelings is more important than the next promotion.

6. They Put Undue Pressure On Their Partners

The overachiever can cause problems in a romantic life if they keep mental tabs on every contribution their partner makes to the relationship. They can end up feeling resentful because they feel like they work harder, and contribute or sacrifice more to the relationship. These feelings can turn to long standing frustration, and low-lying anger that can sour loving feelings.

7. They Are Focused On The Future

Being goal-oriented, the overachiever tends to live in the future. When asked to be in the present, they have trouble fully experiencing it. Constantly thinking about what they need to do next instead of paying attention to their surroundings impedes them from having fun and relaxing. It can blind them to their partner's needs, and they may miss important signs to prevent the relationship from going off the rails.

8. They Don’t Know When To Call It Quits

An important part of a relationship is knowing when it's over. Staying in a bad relationship will only cause your partner or yourself more pain, and stop you from moving on. Overachievers may stay in problematic relationships longer because of their fear of failure. Sometimes they would rather be unhappy, than have people judge them negatively.

9. They Are Competitive

Being highly competitive may help drive the overachiever at work and in school, but it can harm a relationship. In a healthy relationship, one should support their partner and champion their success. However, an overachiever's insecurities may make them jealous of their partner and even undermine them. It's important to focus on one's happiness, and not just #winning.

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