An Insatiable Desire for Perfection

Have you ever beaten yourself up for making a mistake? Have you ever regretted how you handled a situation? Have you ever gotten angry with someone over something insignificant?

photo credit: MeeshBomb via Creative Commons

photo credit: MeeshBomb via Creative Commons

If you are honest with yourself, you have probably done all of these. We are imperfect people who strive to be perfect even though we have no chance of getting there. However, we get angry with ourselves (and more destructively others) when perfection is not reached.

I recently watched the movie, The One I Love. In the movie Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss are in a floundering relationship they are attempting to repair. Their therapist recommends spending a few days at a cabin. He sets it up and informs them it has worked well for his other clients. (Spoiler alert) When they arrive at their home for the weekend, they discover in the guest house on the property there are people staying there who look exactly like them. Not only do the look exactly like each other but they talk and act identical. Even better, and more problematic, they are the perfect versions of the person. Every imperfection is gone. As the story goes on they each want to spend more and more time with the perfect version of themselves in the guest house as opposed to the real version they came with. It’s an interesting dynamic because we all expect our partners to be perfect. We know we can’t be perfect, and they can’t be either, but we desire it anyway.

You love someone in spite of their shortcomings. You love them because there is an inexplicable feeling you get when you’re around them. It feels right. It feels like this is where you’re supposed to be. You don’t fully understand it which is partially what makes it great. We want them to be there for us to do anything and everything. We want them to love us all day every day, even if we mess up. We want them never to be angry with us even if it is warranted. We expect from others what we ourselves could never be.

I struggle to deal with problems and choose to avoid them far too often. I can’t fix anything in our home which breaks. If I don’t sleep well at night I am in a bad mood. If I don’t drink coffee first thing in the morning I am a terrible person. I like spending a great deal of time alone which can be challenging at times when you’re married. I could go on and on. Morgan knows all of these things and she loves me anyway. She doesn’t like these but she accepts me. When someone loves you in spite of your faults you will do anything for them.

There is an intimacy we have with our spouses and close friends because they know our faults. They know we have messed up. Not only do they know we have, they have specific examples they could recall. They accept us anyway. We have the same experiences with them. We know their faults and accept them as well. True intimacy is about accepting another person’s imperfections.

This isn’t hard to understand. It is incredibly hard to follow through on. People you love will disappoint you. You will disappoint people you love.

Instead of searching for perfection, which you will never find, saturate yourself with the acceptance others give by loving you even though you are far from perfect.