Hope everyone is enjoying the summer and doing a bit of mindfulness… I don’t think I have covered the “perfect partner” issue from a rOCD perspective in previous posts so here it goes.It is also important for me to mention that I am not discussing cases of emotional and/or physical abuse. We are excluding these cases from this discussion.
There are two “lies” that rOCD tells when it comes to evaluating if we are in a relationship with the “perfect” partner:
No.1 If your partner was really meant for you, you would not be feeling any anxiety/having doubts, etc.
No.2 If only my partner had/did not have x, then he/she would be the perfect partner.
Before we go into more detail, we need to first think about what a perfect partner is. If our background is Western culture, then most often than not this notion would be based around the Hollywood myth that you just need to meet the “right” person and everyone will be happy ever after. Other things like education, social status might also be important. If we come from an Eastern or African culture, maybe we will be more concerned about acceptance within our own family and our partner’s family. The point is that there is no Universal definition of perfect partner. And there will never be. Why? Because different people and cultures, value different things.
OK, now point no.1 – No.1 If your partner was really meant for you, you would not be feeling any anxiety/having doubts, etc. This type of thinking is quite common in rOCD sufferers. In this case, we think that the cause of the problem is basically external and not internal. And the risk here is that we will go from relationship to relationship, trying to find this perfect partner as we believe that this would lead to no anxiety. And to make matters worse, even those that are close to us reinforce this myth. “If x was really meant for you, you would not be feeling or doubting this way”. Having doubts is healthy. Having doubts all the time is unhealthy. At a certain point in the relationship, you will have to take a leap of faith. It happens in all relationships – even those people that do not suffer from rOCD! So if you find yourself questioning or stuck in an unhealthy way (I call this “spinning the wheels” and not getting to any conclusions), take this as further evidence of rOCD at work.
And No.2 If only my partner had/did not have x, then he/she would be the perfect partner. Getting fixated on certain physical or intellectual attributes to the point of creating even more anxiety, can also be quite common. The number one priority for the anxious OCD brain is to find faults in our partners as these are perceived as danger sources. The brain in its best attempt to protect us, ends up hurting us. So if you find yourself obsessing about a certain lack of something in your partner for a long period of time, take it as further evidence of OCD. I am not saying that you should ignore values that you consider important in a relationship. I am saying that we need to better distinguish between essentials and non-essentials. What qualities are also important in 20, 30 and 40 years from now?
The bottom line is that no one is the “ready made” stuff when it comes to relationships. Success in a long term relationship depends very much wanting to become the perfect partner rather than finding the perfect partner. As a personal note, I have celebrated my 3rd year anniversary last Wednesday. In these 3 years, we have been through so much together, both good and bad. But our relationship is stronger today than it was 3 years ago. In the midst of my crazy rOCD period, I understood one thing: The person that I was going to propose to was willing to put the work in and so was I. Then, I gathered up the courage to ignore my rOCD and moved forward with faith.