2 Types Of Perfectionism And The Positives And Negatives Of Each

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2 Types Of Perfectionism And The Positives And Negatives Of Each
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Perfectionism has its benefits and drawbacks, just like any other personality trait. 

The need for perfection can push you to give your best effort. On the other hand, it might lead to disappointment and frustration when things don't turn out perfect all the time. 

RELATED: 4 Risks Of Perfectionism That May Be New To You ─ And You Can Transcend

If you understand the struggles of being a perfectionist, you’re not alone. 

I, myself, have seen perfectionism take its toll on my life, whether positively or negatively. 

Sometimes the first step to living a more fulfilling and balanced life is to gain knowledge on what it is that’s holding you back. 

This includes pinpointing which type of perfectionist you are.

According to research, there are two different types of perfectionism. For us perfectionists, it's important to be able to identify when and how our high expectations are causing issues.

1. Excellence-seeking perfectionism

This type of perfectionist fixates on excessively high standards and expectations for not only their own performance, but the performance of those in their lives. 

In case you’re wondering, I’ve never related to a sentence more in my entire life. The positives and negatives to excellence-seeking perfectionism have played out in my own life many times. 

There are some evident signs you may be an excellence-seeking perfectionist: 

  • Do you become disappointed in yourself when you make a mistake? 
  • Is it hard to forgive yourself after you have failed at something?
  • Have you held high standards for a loved one and seen them become frustrated with not being able to meet those expectations?
  • Has anyone in your life pointed out your tendency to expect too much from yourself and others?

Excellence-seeking perfectionists want ourselves and everyone around us to do things perfectly. 

Once we have decided on the expectation we have — say for instance quick text response time — any failure to do so leads to resentment. 

Despite popular belief, there are some positives to being an excellence-seeking perfectionist. 

For example, when we hold high expectations for ourselves we are pushed to do our best and pay attention to small details. We may be characterized as good students, hard workers, and supportive friends. 

In addition, keeping high standards in mind for the partner we choose ensures that we always get what we feel we deserve. 

This type of perfectionist isn’t likely to keep anyone around who doesn’t fulfill our needs. 

Similarly, we are good at decision-making and being confident in what we truly want. 

Nonetheless, there are negative consequences to this perfectionism. 

The idea of fixation is a hard habit to break. 

That said, excellence-seeking perfectionists waste a lot of time pondering failure and find it hard to get back up again. 

Like anything that involves high expectations, the work that gets put into it might be exhausting and these perfectionists may experience burnout. 

One of the biggest challenges I have seen with excellence-seeking perfectionism is the damage it has done in my current relationship. 

The high standards I have set for my boyfriend can be extremely taxing on his self-worth. 

Funny enough, he acts as the other type of perfectionist. 

RELATED: 4 Ways To Stop Perfectionism From Stealing Your Focus​

2. Failure-avoiding perfectionism

The reason my expectations are so tough for him to handle is because, as a failure-avoiding perfectionist, he is always worried he’s doing things wrong or isn’t good enough. 

As a result, he fears losing respect from me if he doesn’t do things perfectly. 

Failure-avoiding perfectionism is when the person has an obsessive concern with reaching high performance standards. 

For this type of perfectionist, they are very troubled by the thought of disappointing those around them. 

While they avoid failure for their own dignity, it is tied heavily to the opinions of others. 

There are some evident signs you may be a failure-avoiding perfectionist:

  • Do you find it hard to overcome disappointment from loved ones?
  • Are you often stuck in feeling like you can’t impress anyone without limitations? 
  • Is it hard for you to respect yourself if others don’t do it first?
  • Do you struggle with sincere self-hatred at any sign of failure?

Similar to excellence-seeking perfectionists, there are both positive and negative consequences of this type of perfectionism. 

For those who are failure-avoiding perfectionists, there is a certain level of regard for the needs of others that is admirable. 

They want to make others proud and do things that are out of the ordinary. 

Furthermore, failure-avoiding perfectionists work hard to accomplish their goals and find deep appreciation in being commended for their tenacity. 

On the other hand, these perfectionists tend to have low self-esteem and avoid dealing with emotion without the guidance of others. 

Since their self-satisfaction is based on the judgments of those around them, they find it hard to create their own sense of worth. 

Failure-avoiding perfectionists may turn to rage or an emotional shut-down when they have feelings of inadequacy that can’t be fixed. 

Why is perfectionism bad?

Whether you identify as an excellence-seeking perfectionist or a failure-avoiding perfectionist, it’s clear that their negatives outweigh the positives. 

Perhaps it’s time for you to look inward and work to change your mindset. 

The Oxford Review defines perfectionism as “a condition whereby the individual sets high personal standards for their own behavior and actions and can sometimes set the same expectations for others.” 

Although this can sound ideal, perfectionism is rooted in a sense of disillusionment. 

When we strive for something that is unrealistic, we are ultimately trying to convince ourselves that life doesn’t have complications. 

Perfectionists are motivated to overcome the inconsistencies in life and create a blank slate that is free from error. 

But as I’ve said, this doesn’t exist — there will be mistakes, no matter how hard we try. 

The trait of perfectionism can present itself in many different aspects. 

For some, it might come out through their effort in schoolwork or healthy eating and exercise.

Others may see it as a motivator for the jobs they take on or how they alter their appearance. 

People who are perfectionists fear failure and may put off certain tasks to avoid anything that isn’t success. 

However, success is defined differently for a perfectionist than it would be for someone who has realistic standards. 

It is believed that perfectionism is driven by internal pressures, but the ways of society play a role in creating a perfectionist. 

Perhaps you developed perfectionism because of your upbringing.

In my case, I’ve had this outlook since I was a child — playing with Barbie dolls and having to start over if I messed up a sentence between them. 

Perfectionism is not easy to maintain and there will come a time in every perfectionists’ life when they realize a change needs to be made. 

Now, let’s look into the two types of perfectionism and how they make for good and bad attributes.

RELATED: 5 Ways To Ease Unhealthy Perfectionism​

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Isabella Pacinelli is a writer who covers relationship, self-love, spirituality, and entertainment topics.

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