How To Shake The Perfection Infection

By Kerri-Anne Brown

Building a lasting relationship involves having realistic expectations of yourself and your partner. In my years of working with couples, I’ve seen how having unrealistic expectations has caused great conflict and, in some cases, been responsible for the relationship’s demise.

Being in a committed relationship means that you have decided to share your life with another human. That being said, you can expect that there will be arguments, disagreements, frustrations, and any other less than ideal thing you can think of. Everything won’t always be rainbows and butterflies. And that’s okay. Yes, it really is okay. It’s okay for your relationship to have ups and downs. What sets apart couples who have long term success and happiness is how they manage these ups and downs.

Relationships are a dance of harmony, disharmony and repair – Terry Real

Are you suffering from a perfection infection? It’s a term I use to describe the idea that many people have about what a great relationship looks like. The idea that it should be problem free. Mostly the idea that partners in a relationship have the same values, sense of humor, and shared interest and passion for all things. They always know what the other is thinking and can anticipate and fulfill each other’s wants and needs. Sounds like relationship goals, right? The truth is most relationships don’t mirror this.

Try not to focus on creating the perfect relationship or having the perfect partner. This isn’t to suggest that you should settle and just be okay with someone or something that’s not great.  Instead, learn to be okay with someone who is human, like you, and therefore imperfect.

Here are 5 things to keep in mind to shake this infection.

  1. Recognize that there’s no such thing as endless harmony. Happily ever after is not a literal translation.
  2. Embrace your humanity as well as your partner’s. You can’t offer perfection, so you shouldn’t expect it either. What you can offer, however, is lots of compassion. Self-compassion as well as compassion towards your partner is vital for growth and success.
  3. Don’t panic when you hit a rough patch. Recognize it for what it is and know that things can and will get better again. Repeat number 2.
  4. Work on your repairs. A strong repair is critical in helping couples to manage conflicts that arise. How you repair from the disharmony is crucial.
  5. Focus on what’s good. Find appreciation for what you admire about your significant other. When you’re not focusing on all the things you find less than ideal, you create room to have more appreciation for the things that make your partner amazing.

Keeping these things in mind are important when trying to shift away from unrealistic relationship ideals. If you’ve found this information helpful, please share with someone so they may benefit also.

Kerri-Anne Brown

Kerri-Anne Brown

Hi, I'm Kerri-Anne and I'm a licensed mental health counselor in Orlando, FL. I help individuals and couples who are living with fertility challenges, perinatal loss, birth trauma and difficulties with postpartum adjustments. Please feel free to reach out anytime.


  1. Amber Lewter on July 9, 2018 at 11:56 am

    Yes! powerful truths & Great recommendations. So many couples and individuals I see expect their partner to be their “soulmate” and place absurd expectations and impossible demands on the relationship. It’s refreshing to everyone when these fairytale ideals of love are let go of for healthier, more realistic approaches.

    • Avatar photo Kerri-Anne Brown on July 10, 2018 at 10:00 am

      Thanks for your dropping by Amber. I like the way you reframed it as “fairytale ideals”.

  2. Punch on July 10, 2018 at 9:18 am

    Hi I like this

  3. Olympia Therapy PLLC on July 14, 2018 at 12:31 pm

    Great article! In the age of social media and projecting the perfect image, this is SO important. No one’s relationship is perfect and to think that is so is damaging to us!

  4. Lynn Louise Wonders on July 15, 2018 at 12:27 pm

    All great advice! I really like #3 because seems like a lot of time people DO panic and jump to worst case when they hit the rough patch. Remembering not to panic and going back to #2 is such helpful guidance to remember.

  5. Lauran Hahn on July 16, 2018 at 7:33 am

    I love this! This is a good reminder that relationships can be tough sometimes and helps take the pressure off when times get difficult. Thanks for writing!

  6. Rachel (Full Cup Play Therapy) on July 19, 2018 at 9:50 pm

    All sage advice!

  7. Kim Martinez on July 24, 2018 at 2:36 pm

    I love the idea of appreciating your spouse and focusing on what you love about them. Great advice.

  8. Rose on August 2, 2018 at 8:58 am

    Great Advice! Especially like #4, repair so important.

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