Relationship Advice Tips By Dr. Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

 relationship advice psychotherapy for intimacy problems  

Perfect roses lose their blush and bloom just like so called perfect relationships! 

photograph copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

 

Martin was determined to make his new relationship perfect

After a series of failed relationships Martin had a new girlfriend. Things seemed different this time around. He was more comfortable being with her without constantly worrying about whether he was doing and saying the right thing. For the first time he felt relaxed in the company of an attractive woman who appeared to be content when they were together.

Martin looked forward to being with Raquel and hoped that the good feelings he had about the relationship were going to last. He was all too familiar with the short ‘highs’ that came at the early stages of new romances, only to be followed by ‘low depths’ when the novelty wore off. Martin tried to do everything perfectly so that there was no chance he was the one who sabotaged the relationship. He used his past experiences as lessons to make sure that Raquel would stay interested, and want to stay in the relationship.

He called often to show he was thinking of her.

He remembered her likes and dislikes when it came to food, movies, animals, books and music. Martin arranged to go to the places that had her favorite bands, style of cuisine and group of people she felt comfortable with.

He commented on her appearance and asked how she felt, what she wanted, how she wanted it and when it was convenient for her.

Martin was the perfect gentleman and boyfriend.


psychotherapy for relationship problems with intimacy

Nature tolerates imperfections and thrives – so can you!

photograph copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

Martin’s self-criticism disconnected him from his girlfriend

So far so good.  Until the fly in the ointment spoiled a perfectly good relationship.

It happened on a wet and blustery day. Martin’s car battery died on his way to pick up Raquel for their night out at a gala event that he had paid for in advance.  He couldn’t believe it. How could this happen. He was meticulous with getting his car serviced and checked out at regular intervals. Now he was going to be late, they would miss the opening of the gala with celebrity guests and he would be wet and messy to boot!

As he waited for roadside assistance Martin criticized himself for not checking to make sure the car was in good shape. He criticized himself for not taking precautions for such an eventuality. He criticized himself for not getting limousine service in the first place. Martin criticized himself for letting his excitement get the better of him. He criticized himself for believing he could carry this plan off without a hitch.

By the time Martin got his battery charged up and the car working again he was in a bad mood. He was irritated with himself, short tempered and angry that his vision of the evening had been marred by his own lack of foresight.

Martin’s bad mood took up a lot of space inside him. He had precious little left to connect with Raquel. What little he did have was robotic. Raquel couldn’t find a way to connect with him despite her attempts to downplay the entire fiasco. 

relationship advice psychotherapy for perfectionists 

morning glories are perfect for a short moment and then die-that’s the price of perfectionism!

photograph copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

Perfectionism based on self-criticism works against intimacy in relationships

Self-criticism stemming from a need to be perfect in his relationship acted as a wall that kept Martin and Raquel apart and distant. There was no place for comfort or understanding.  An article in the Journal of Personality 2011, suggests that the self-critical aspect of perfectionism makes you feel bad about yourself and makes you afraid of getting close. It ruins relationships by creating barriers against intimacy.

When Martin began criticizing himself he turned his entire focus inward. That meant that he was relating only to himself and not to Raquel. When she tried to find a way in and connect, she couldn’t get through his bad feelings – of being undeserving and unworthy.

Martin couldn’t be emotionally intimate with Raquel if he was living in a place of feeling bad about himself. It wasn’t safe to connect if he was imperfect. He couldn’t let her see his ‘badness and imperfections.’ If he couldn’t tolerate them, then she would surely run away from him.

That would mean rejection and feeling even worse.

These are the steps that Martin went through to deny himself a chance to be loved for what he was rather than his perfectionism.

Relating to Raquel would have taken the sting out of his self-criticism and made him feel worthy of her regard and his own no matter what he believed were his human failures.

If Martin is willing to give up trying to be perfect and allows himself to be human he will make Raquel feel like an equal and establish a more secure base for their relationship.

Copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

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Disclaimer: the information in this article is for educative purposes only. There is no liability on the part of Dr. Raymond for any reactions you may experience while reading the article or implementing any suggestions therein. Interacting with this article does not constitute a therapeutic relationship with Dr. Raymond.



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