“I thought I had to date perfectly!? Hummm…so that is part of what has been going on with me!” My mind rejoiced in uncovering one of the reasons why I didn’t start dating until in my thirties…I had thought I had to be perfect before I could date correctly, so the years dragged on. At that moment a few weeks ago, perfectionism had been producing anxiety in me as I interacted with my boyfriend. He wasn’t doing anything wrong; my head was pushing me to be perfect, to not mess up, and to not make any mistakes. However, while talking with him in his kitchen, it hit me: “I have been trying to be perfect in the whole dating sphere of my life! I thought I couldn’t make mistakes, and that it wouldn’t work if I did.” All that is a lie…
Here’s some of what I’m learning: I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but no one is perfect out there. Not even you. That means, that if you are going to date anyone, they will not be perfect. He or she will be wonderful, quirky, and amazing in certain areas, but not fully perfect royalty that whisks you away to a castle and meets your every need.
I thought I had to be perfect before someone would like me. Lots of people like me just the way I am. Most people start dating in their teens, but it scared me too much then, and I didn’t think guys liked me. I had a lot of recovery to do, but after I worked through some of the lies I had believed, I started trying to date.
I thought I had to not do anything wrong while dating. Certain trends while I was a teenager drilled “Don’t do anything wrong while you are dating!!” into my head. These messages built up unreasonable fear about getting close to a guy. I’ve had to work through these and other messages through going to counseling. Now I can enjoy hugging my boyfriend in his cozy kitchen and dancing with him at contra dances.
I can be extremely patient with students, but my patience and sensitivity with guys used to be short. I became easily offended and that short-circuited several relationships before I learned to relax and not be so uptight. Once a guy that I thought liked me called me, “Hey Kid!” And that just turned me off and I shut down toward him and stopped talking to him. Learning to trust men and relax has helped me be able to extend grace to the guys in my life and to myself much more.
For years one of the reasons why I didn’t date is because I had perfectionism in regards to guys. It kept them away from me: they weren’t perfect, so I couldn’t date them! Once I opened up more and was willing to learn more, admit I needed to learn to trust men, the opportunities came, and now dating my wonderful boyfriend is so much fun.
Here are some tips to help overcome dating perfectionism:
Learn to love yourself in a healthy way. If you don’t like who you are, it will be hard to like another person over a long period of time.
If you aren’t friendly and open, no one will WANT to date you.
Practice going on dates with quality people, even if you are not sure if you like them or not.
This dating thing is messy, but it is SO worth it!
By M. H. Campbell