Relationship Diversity Podcast

Can Embracing Imperfection Lead You to More Fulfilling Relationships?

November 02, 2023 Carrie Jeroslow Episode 72
Relationship Diversity Podcast
Can Embracing Imperfection Lead You to More Fulfilling Relationships?
Relationship Diversity Podcast +
Become a supporter of the show!
Starting at $3/month
Support
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Episode 072
Can Embracing Imperfection Lead You to More Fulfilling Relationships?


This episode is an exploration of the debilitating impact of perfectionism on relationships. We look at how striving for perfection can damage intimate relationships, specifically when engaging in more non-traditional structures.

Even though I often talk about self-growth and evolution, when done through perfectionism, this process can compound wounds and work against healing and growth.

So how do you balance digging into your self-growth with having realistic expectations of yourself?

Learn about the subjectiveness of perfectionism and how to gracefully release these illusory perfectionistic goals.

All through the lens of diverse relationship structures.

This is Relationships Reimagined.

Join me for this new paradigm of conscious, diverse and intentional relationships.

✴️ ✴️ ✴️ ✴️ ✴️ ✴️ ✴️ 


Get Your Free Relationship Diversity Guide

Get my Free Self-Care Made Easy Guide

Connect with me:

Email me for relationship coach and online community suggestions

Instagram

TikTok

Website

Get my book, “Why Do They Always Break Up with Me? The Ultimate Guide to Overcome Heartbreak for Good”

Podcast Music by Zachariah Hickman

Book Ad Music by Madirfan

Support the show


Please note: I am not a doctor, psychiatrist, psychologist, therapist, counselor, or social worker. I am not attempting to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any physical, mental, or emotional issue, disease, or condition. The information provided in or through my podcast is not intended to be a substitute for the professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment provided by your own Medical Provider or Mental Health Provider. Always seek the advice of your own Medical Provider and/or Mental Health Provider regarding any questions or concerns you have about your specific circumstance.

Carrie Jeroslow:

Welcome to the Relationship Diversity Podcast, where we celebrate, question and explore all aspects of relationship structure diversity, from soloamory to monogamy to polyamory and everything in between, because every relationship is as unique as you are. We'll bust through societal programming to break open and dissect everything we thought we knew about relationships, to ask the challenging but transformational questions who am I and what do I really want in my relationships? I'm your Carrie Jeroslow, , best-selling author, speaker, intuitive and coach. Join me as we reimagine all that our most intimate relationships can become.

Carrie Jeroslow:

I was filled with embarrassment during my divorce. I remember the moment that I took off my wedding ring for the first time in six years. Pulling it off and feeling the indent in my finger sent daggers heavily throughout my whole body, landing in my belly. Every time I felt that dent in my ring finger, it triggered those painful sensations and after a while they gathered weight in my gut, igniting a feeling of wanting to hide myself from anyone and everyone. Yes, I felt sad that my marriage was ending. It felt devastating and was one of my biggest fears. But what was just as challenging for me was that I felt this image that people had of me fall to the waist side. I had been married to an intuitive and we had worked together in creating healing environments for others, and yet our marriage was unhealable. I felt like a failure. I felt like I failed others and failed myself. I strived to be the perfect wife and clearly failed, and I'm not sure why. I expected myself to be perfect in a marriage because I wasn't modeled that from 12 years old on. I'd never been married before and my longest relationship prior to my marriage was only about six months. So why did I hold these grandiose expectations for myself?

Carrie Jeroslow:

This overwhelming feeling of embarrassment triggered a very similar feeling from my childhood. I remember my friends telling me on the playground your parents are the perfect couple. I remember how good this made me feel and I agreed at the time. Everything came crumbling down shortly After that when my parents announced that they were getting divorced and I realized that my family wasn't as perfect as everyone had thought. But by that time my desire to be perfect myself had cemented in my psyche. In fact, sometimes I feel like I was born wanting to be perfect. I know this isn't true, but from as far back as I can remember, I always liked being the best at things. I loved the attention it brought me. I loved feeling the ease and flow of being really good at something, coupled with the admiration of others, and somehow that grew into wanting to be perfect at everything I tried and everything I was. I wanted to be the perfect daughter, the perfect student, the perfect friend and eventually the perfect girlfriend and then wife.

Carrie Jeroslow:

My inner work uncovered an even deeper cause. I found that I equated perfection with success. In other words, if I was perfect in life, it meant I was successful in life. With this perfection and success, I thought I would become someone that people looked up to, an expert from the very moment I began something. When I was younger, I correlated being a novice with being weak and unintelligent. I know that to be very different now, but back then those connections were made from the attention that I seemed to get when I excelled. The pressure from this was too much to handle. I felt weighted down by the stress to maintain the appearance that I was perfect.

Carrie Jeroslow:

The quest for perfection got even more confusing to me when I started my self-healing journey. In the beginning I felt inadequate and not enough. I felt broken, and if I could just heal enough to really make me perfect, then everything would be okay. So I would be relentless with my healing, which just compounded my wounds instead of releasing them. This brings me back to the embarrassment I felt crippled by with my divorce.

Carrie Jeroslow:

If you've heard any of my previous episodes where I talk about my first husband, matthew, you know that he was a professional clairvoyant healer. He did intuitive readings and taught people how to do psychic readings and healings. He had taught me this is what we spent a lot of our time doing, together and separately. And yet, with all of his and my experience, we still ended up in divorce. I felt like everyone around us was in shock, wondering how it could have happened. Shouldn't we have been able to figure things out as a psychic? Shouldn't he have seen what was coming, which in turn made me feel more broken?

Carrie Jeroslow:

Those first few months when we were dissolving our union were filled with this endless loop of wanting to relentlessly heal to perfection, but feeling more out of control and broken. And because this idea of perfection was and is so illusory and unrealistic, I began to see that I was just setting myself up for failure with each and every attempt. When I stopped the loop, stopped the need to be perfect, I realized that this perfection expectation I had for myself kept me from being who I truly was in my life as well as in my marriage to Matthew. It kept me from speaking my real thoughts and feelings and feeling safe doing so. I betrayed my true self by imposing a fake, yet perfect, or what I believed was a perfect persona, on myself, and in betraying myself, I betrayed my partner and our relationship.

Carrie Jeroslow:

As I painfully said goodbye to my need for perfection, I began to find balance between my healing work and release the definition that healing equaled perfection. I reveled in my imperfections, learning the sacred practice of finding comfort in the discomfort, in the unknown. I allowed myself to be more me than ever before. For example, when people asked me how I was feeling, I no longer said an obligatory good and you. I actually thought about it and gave an honest answer. I released this perfect persona and just became a real person, the real me, with a wide array of feelings and emotions. I became my unique self when people noticed. I heard from many friends and acquaintances that something seemed different. I seemed down to earth and relatable.

Carrie Jeroslow:

And this is what I'm going to talk about in today's episode how having the desire to grow can backfire if coupled with the need to be perfect, how to disentangle the two ideas and release the need to be perfect. And because this podcast is about relationship diversity, we'll use that as a backdrop for our exploration. While relationship diversity can be liberating and empowering, it also brings unique challenges. One common pitfall is the pressure we place on ourselves to be perfect partners in perfect relationships, specifically when we feel the need to prove our untraditional choices to ourselves and others In addition to our own expectations. There are people all around us experts in quotes who are saying that a relationship is right or good if done in one specific way. These statements are so damaging because they further promote that there is one way, and it is the perfect way, to be in that type of relationship. And then we have social media that is very carefully curated content, which further gives us the message that we need to be perfect in order to be accepted, loved and cared for in society. This is a perfect storm that's created a lot of anxiety and depression and isolation.

Carrie Jeroslow:

Personal growth and self-improvement is undoubtedly a positive pursuit, as self-awareness and self-improvement have been shown to lead to healthier and more fulfilling relationships. I talk about self-evolution and growth a lot on this podcast. However, when this drive to become better becomes entangled with unrealistic expectations, it can lead to the perfection paradox. This is the belief that you must be flawless to have a successful relationship. Whether you're striving to be a more attentive partner, a better communicator or a more understanding lover, these goals can morph into unreasonable demands on yourself. This self-imposed perfectionism can become a roadblock to maintaining healthy and harmonious relationships, particularly in diverse relationship structures. Diverse relationships come in many forms, such as solo, amary, polyamory, open relationships or non-traditional partnerships. Each of these has its unique dynamics and complexities. When you layer unrealistic self-expectations on top of these complexities, the result can be detrimental. So here's some ways this can play out.

Carrie Jeroslow:

Big self-expectations can make you afraid to be vulnerable and share your authentic self. You may fear that admitting your insecurities or uncertainties will make you appear less than perfect. This fear of vulnerability can inhibit deep, meaningful connections in diverse relationships. When you hold yourself to unattainable standards, you might avoid difficult conversations. These could include discussing boundaries, renegotiating agreements or addressing conflicts. Instead of confronting these issues, you may sweep them under the rug, which can lead to unspoken tensions and misunderstandings. The desire to be perfect can lead to overanalyzing your words and actions. You might second guess every message you send or every word you say, leading to miscommunications or misunderstandings.

Carrie Jeroslow:

Unrealistic self-expectations can result in a judgmental attitude both towards yourself and your partners. You might criticize yourself and others for any perceived flaws or missteps, eroding the empathy necessary for understanding and supporting each other. Specifically in non-monogamous relationships, comparisons between partners are natural to some extent. However, unrealistic self-expectations can amplify these comparisons. You may constantly compare your actions, qualities or role in the relationship to those of your partners, which can lead to resentment and jealousy. When you're preoccupied with your own perfection, it can be challenging to step into your partner's shoes and see things from their perspective. Jealousy thrives on understanding the feelings and experiences of others, but an obsessive pursuit of perfection can hinder this ability. The pressure to be perfect can contribute to insecurity. You might constantly worry about measuring up to your partner's other relationships or fulfilling their every need, which can lead to feelings of inadequacy. Unrealistic self-expectations can fuel jealousy and envy. You may become overly sensitive to your partner's interactions with others, interpreting them as threats to your relationship. This heightened jealousy can strain trust and harmony in your relationships. And finally, relying on external validation to feel secure is a common consequence of perfectionism. This might manifest as a constant need for reassurance and validation from your partners, which can be emotionally draining for both you and them.

Carrie Jeroslow:

This isn't an exhaustive list by any means. There's much complexity with this. But does any of this resonate or lead you to other ways? Perfectionism, or your perfectionism, is hurting your relationships. So now what? How can you begin to shift this experience?

Carrie Jeroslow:

I want to start with this question what is perfection really? I believe that in the way we are talking about it in diverse relationships, perfection is a totally subjective concept. The idea of perfection is different for everyone. It's filled with past observations and conclusions that were made from your unique life experience. So being a perfect partner might look completely different to you than it does to those who you're in relationship with.

Carrie Jeroslow:

Having this awareness is imperative to begin releasing these unrealistic expectations. This, in and of itself, is a huge healing. You can take it a step further by diving into looking at where these subjective views of perfection came from. Were they self-imposed? If so, can you find where in your life it started and why? Were they adopted from your parents or influential adults in your life? Here's a really good question to ask yourself how has your perfectionism served you? For instance, has it motivated you in your schooling or in your career and, if so, ask yourself how you can find motivation without these unrealistic expectations. This is a great journal exercise to do or something to think about or talk to a trusted friend, coach or therapist about. Take your time with it and see if you can find the root cause. Here are some other things that you can do in tandem with that self-inquiry to help you balance self-improvement and self-growth with realistic expectations.

Carrie Jeroslow:

One is practicing self-compassion, which is foundational for healthy relationships. It involves treating yourself with the same kindness and understanding you would offer to someone you care about. You can put self-compassion into action by practicing mindfulness, being aware of your thoughts and feelings without judgment. When you notice self-critical or perfectionistic thoughts, gently redirect them with more compassionate ones. You can challenge negative self-talk by asking yourself would I say this to a friend? If the answer is no, replace it with a more compassionate and realistic perspective. You can practice self-forgiveness. Understand that making mistakes is a part of being human. Forgive yourself for past errors and use them as opportunities for growth.

Carrie Jeroslow:

Another is communication. It's the foundation of any relationship. We talk about that all the time, especially in diverse relationship structures where boundaries and expectations may vary. So foster open and honest communication by listening actively when your partner shares their thoughts and feelings. Listen actively without interrupting or judgment. This encourages trust and empathy. Be willing to be vulnerable. Share your own thoughts and feelings honestly, releasing this need to be perfect or what you think they want you to be or how you think they want you to be. Vulnerability can lead to these deeper connections and understandings. Create a safe space for constructive feedback. Encourage your partners to express their concerns or desires openly, knowing that your relationship can handle these discussions. Develop healthy conflict resolution skills. Understand that disagreements are normal and use them as opportunities to learn and grow together. Get help from a coach or therapist or read books on communication specifically for diverse relationship structures.

Carrie Jeroslow:

Next, I encourage you to set realistic goals, and I mean tangible, realistic goals for personal growth. Realistic is the key word here. That's why I've emphasized it, and it's vital for avoiding the trap of perfectionism. Yes, we wanna challenge ourselves, and we also wanna know that they are attainable and possible. So, instead of aiming for an unattainable ideal, consider identifying specific goals and breaking them into steps where you can easily track your progress. Maybe you wanna make sure to schedule connection time with a partner where you chill and hang out together watching your favorite show. Maybe you wanna go 12 hours without checking your phone, with the desire to really connect with your partner. Make these as tangible as possible so you can really measure results in an objective rather than subjective way. And, after a while, be willing to adjust and be flexible if your goals change. Growth is not linear and adjustments are just part of the process.

Carrie Jeroslow:

And lastly, seek support. I know I say this a lot, but connecting with others when you're doing this deep work can completely shift your experience. I remember when my son was a toddler and I was up all night with him. I felt so alone. This contributed to depression and anxiety, but as soon as I reached out to a friend and we scheduled and had a play date, my entire mood shifted. With diverse relationships, this feeling of loneliness happens a lot because many people feel alone in their exploration, adding the need to appear perfect onto this, and the potential for isolation is really high.

Carrie Jeroslow:

Seeking support can be a game changer. You can find support through individual or couples therapy, where you can explore your feelings, expectations and communication patterns, and I highly recommend finding therapists or coaches who are well-versed, accepting and inclusive of diverse relationships. You could also find support through communities and support groups that share your relationship structure. These communities can offer advice, insights and a sense of belonging. You can also find support with trusted friends and family, if you feel safe doing so. You can lean on friends and family for emotional support and perspective. They can provide many times valuable outside viewpoints and offer a sense of stability. And finally, some of the best support can come through self-care, specifically prioritizing self-care activities that help you relax and recharge. This could include meditation, hobbies, exercise, hiking, walking, spending time with an animal whatever brings you joy and comfort.

Carrie Jeroslow:

Diverse relationships can be beautiful and fulfilling, but they're not immune to the pitfalls of perfectionism. Striking a balance between personal growth and self-acceptance is crucial for building and maintaining healthy connections with your partners in any relationship structure. Embrace your imperfections, communicate openly and remember that the path to uncovering your authentic self is paved with self-compassion, not self-imposed perfection. Stay curious the more comfortable and normal it is to acknowledge the vast and varied relating we all do, the faster will shift to a paradigm of conscious, intentional and diverse relationships. New episodes are released every Thursday. Stay connected with me through my website, carriejeroslowdotcom, instagram or TikTok. Stay curious Every relationship is as unique as you are.

Carrie Jeroslow:

Are you wondering why you never seem to find lasting fulfillment in your relationships? Or do you create the same kinds of relationship experiences over and over again? Can you never seem to find even one person who you want to explore a relationship with? Have you just given up hope altogether? If this sounds like you, my recent book why Do they Always Break Up With Me is the perfect place to start. The foundation of any relationship, whether intimate or not, is the relationship we have with ourselves. In the book, I lead you through eight clear steps to start or continue your self-exploration journey. You'll learn about the importance of self-acceptance, gratitude, belief, shifting and forgiveness, and given exercises to experience these life-changing concepts. This is the process I use to shift my relationships from continual heartbreak to what they are now fulfilling, soul-nourishing, compassionate and loving. It is possible for you. This book can set you on a path to get there, currently available through Amazon or through the link in the show notes.

The Perfection Paradox in Relationship Diversity
Finding Support for Diverse Relationships