This morning, over coffee, one of my good friends spilled her guts to me about all of her failed attempts to find the perfect man. Although her story is about her unique personal experiences, I couldn’t help but feel like I had heard the same story told by others in completely different circumstances a hundred times before.
It’s a heartbreaking tale about the endless quest for perfection that so many of us are on…
The Perfect Woman
Once upon a time, an intelligent, attractive, self-sufficient woman in her mid-thirties decided she wanted to settle down and find a husband. So she journeyed out into the world to search for the perfect man.
She met him in New York City at a bar in a fancy hotel lobby. He was handsome and well-spoken. In fact, she had a hard time keeping her eyes off of him. He intrigued her. It was the curves of his cheek bones, the confidence in his voice, and the comfort of his warm, steady hands. But after only a short time, she broke things off. “We just didn’t share the same religious views,” she said. So she continued on her journey.
She met him again in Austin a few months later. This time, he was an entrepreneur who owned a small, successful record label that assisted local musicians with booking gigs and promoting their music. And she learned, during an unforgettable night, that not only did they share the same religious views, but he could also make her laugh for hours on end. “But I just wasn’t that physically attracted to him,” she said. So she continued on her journey.
She met him again in Miami at a beachside café. He was a sports medicine doctor for the Miami Dolphins, but he easily could have been an underwear model for Calvin Klein. For a little while, she was certain he was the one! And all of her friends loved him too. “He’s the perfect catch,” they told her. “But we didn’t hang in the same social circles, and his high-profile job consumed way too much of his time and attention,” she said. So she cut things off and continued on her journey.
Finally, at a corporate business conference in San Diego, she met the perfect man. He possessed every quality she had been searching for. Intelligent, handsome, spiritual, similar social circles, and a strong emotional and physical connection—absolutely perfect! She was ready to spend the rest of her life with him. “But unfortunately, he was looking for the ‘perfect’ woman,” she said.
Everything We’ve Ever Hoped For
As human beings, we often chase hypothetical, static states of perfection. We do so when we are searching for the perfect house, job, friend, or lover.
The problem, of course, is that perfection doesn’t exist in a static state. Because life is a continual journey, constantly evolving and changing. What is here today is not exactly the same tomorrow.
That perfect house, job, friend, or lover will eventually fade to a state of imperfection. Thus, the closest we can get to perfection is the experience itself—the snapshot of a single moment or vision held forever in our minds—never evolving, never growing. And that’s not really what we want. We want something real! And when it’s real, it won’t ever be perfect. But if we’re willing to work at it and open up, it could be everything we’ve ever hoped for.
That Imperfect Man (or Woman)
The truth is, when it comes to finding the “perfect man” or “perfect woman” or “perfect relationship,” the journey starts with letting the fantasy of “perfect” GO! In the real world, you don’t love and appreciate someone because they’re perfect, you love and appreciate them in spite of the fact that they are not. Likewise, your goal shouldn’t be to create a perfect life, but to live an imperfect life in radical amazement.
And when an intimate relationship gets difficult, it’s not an immediate sign that you’re doing it wrong. Intimate relationships are intricate, and are often toughest when you’re doing them right—when you’re dedicating time, having the hard conversations, compromising, and making daily sacrifices. Resisting the tough moments—the real moments—and seeing them as immediate evidence that something is wrong, or that you’re with the wrong person, only exacerbates the difficulties. By contrast, viewing difficulties in a relationship as normal and necessary will give you and your partner the best chance to thrive together in the long run.
Again, there is no “perfect.” To say that one waits a lifetime for their perfect soulmate to come around is an absolute paradox. People eventually get tired of waiting, so they take a chance on someone, and by the powers of love, compromise and commitment they become soulmates, which takes nearly a lifetime to perfect.
This concept truly relates to almost everything in life too. With a little patience and an open mind, over time, I bet that imperfect house evolves into a comfortable home. That imperfect job evolves into a rewarding career. That imperfect friend evolves into a steady shoulder to lean on. And… that imperfect man or woman evolves into a “perfect” lifelong companion.
(Note: Our New York Times bestseller, Getting Back to Happy: Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Reality, and Turn Your Trials into Triumphs, is an easy-to-read guide that will make your life and relationships a lot healthier, guaranteed.)
Now, it’s your turn…
Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think of this short essay.
What resonated? Any other thoughts on perfectionism’s harmful role in relationships?
I’d love to hear from YOU. 🙂
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