If you're a perfectionist, you already know that for every pro it has, there's a corresponding con, particularly with regard to your relationships. In fact, being a perfectionist can sabotage your family relationships just as easily as it can your friendships or romantic relationships. Now, this is certainly not to imply that nothing positive arises from being a perfectionist; indeed, many people who identify as perfectionists have better time management, more organization, and are more reliable than others. Furthermore, the way people express themselves as perfectionists will vary from individual to individual — some may focus it on their work, while others might express is more in their personal life and hobbies. But no matter where it manifests, it's important to temper it so as to avoid having it turn from something that helps you into something that hinders you.
Being a perfectionist can either be awesome or stressful, depending on the personalities you're dealing with. After all, there are as many Type A personalities as there are Type B, and while opposites can attract, it can also be a recipe for disaster if too many people have conflicting ideas about how to approach the tasks at hand.
Family is no exception to this — if you have a family of perfectionists, you probably grew up thinking everybody shares your drive, attention to detail, and planning techniques. If you're the black sheep of your family, you might cringe every time you make plans to meet your parents for dinner, knowing they're likely to arrive late or get lost on their way to the restaurant.
Either way, it's important to step back and reflect on the ways your perfectionism might be sabotaging your relationship with your family. If these behaviors sound familiar to you, it might be worth doing a little self-examination to keep your relationships healthy.
1. You Expect Too Much From Your Family Members
While it's totally normal to have standards for the people in your life, it's important not to impose your own goals and desires onto others, especially when it comes to family. Even if your family is full of like-minded perfectionists, people still have their own values and ethics, and it's important to respect others for what they choose to do and what they're capable of taking on. If you expect others to react to situations the same way you would, or contribute as much to a task or project as you are, it's possible they'll end up feeling like they can never meet your expectations. Remember that it's OK for people to offer what they're able to give at a certain time, and that you can only control what you do, not what others do.
Also worth noting: Although our families can be an important part of our support system, just becaus they're related to you doesn't entitle you to make demands on them. Respecting people's boundaries is important for every kind of relationship, including familial ones.
2. You Can't Enjoy Inside Jokes
Now, there's a difference between jokes and "jokes" — with the latter often being something people who make mean-spirited comments say to excuse the hurt that they cause. "It's just a joke! Geez, lighten up!" is never an OK thing to say to someone if they call out hurtful behavior.
That said, though, being able to laugh at yourself is important, and families are often one of the places where joking about each other's foibles can be a valuable way of communicating and bonding. If you bristle at the slightest suggestion of something not being perfect — and let's face it: No families are perfect — it might isolate you from your loved ones. Laugh together. Laugh with each other. And support each other with humor and love.
3. You Don't Let Others Plan Family Events
Perfectionists are awesome planners by nature: They triple check everything from the time of the flight for your vacation to the lunch menu at the restaurant you're going for your grandfather's birthday. No detail is left to chance, and that can be a really nice treat for people who are looking to enjoy themselves and not sweat the small stuff. That said, it's also easy for perfectionists to go overboard and micromanage every last detail of events, trips, and holidays. Unfortunately, this can lead family members to feel stifled or unheard when it comes to their own ideas and opinions. Heck, it can make even the most well-intended plan feel like a school field trip. Let others take the rein once in a while and see what happens! It's OK if things don't go according to plan all of the time; your family has your back, just as you've got theirs.
4. You Overthink Everything
If you're bringing home a new partner to meet your family for the first time, it's normal to overthink how everything will go. It's normal, too, to worry about your siblings or parents will react if you give them a big piece of life news, like that you're transferring to a new college or quitting your job. If you're a perfectionist, however, it's possible you'll overthink things too much and too often, and it'll begin to impact how open and honest you are with your family. It's OK to go to your family for advice before you have everything figured out, and it's OK to admit when you're struggling with an obstacle or hard decision and just need someone to listen.
5. You Can't Admit When You're Wrong
I know, I know. It's hard to hear this, but it's true: Everyone is wrong sometimes. Seriously, no matter how hard you try or how much effort you put in, everyone makes mistakes sometimes and everyone comes up with the wrong information or makes a bad decision once in a while. It's totally inevitable. For a perfectionist, it may be tempting to brush off a bad decision or avoid discussing something when you know you've made a mistake, perhaps because you feel embarrassed or ashamed of yourself, but it's important to be honest with your family. Owning up when you've made a poor decision or led someone astray is important because it builds trust with your family. It also makes you feel more human and relatable; after all, we all make mistakes, and learning how to overcome them is something everyone can connect to.