I’m a perfectionist.
I get my roots done every six weeks. Chipped nail polish makes me cringe. I graduated from college with a 4.0.
I run exactly 10 miles because odd numbers drive me insane. If my coffee isn’t the color of “khaki,” it’s going back to the barista. (Yeah, I’m that person.)
A quality like this is totally intoxicating and completely exhausting.
It infests every facet of your life like a disease, distorts your thinking and expels rational expectations about everything and, even more disastrously, everyone.
Nothing and no one is ever good enough. Like my chipped nail, it can be fixed.
It was this thinking, this concept, that everything in my life could be shaped into something better — something perfect — that left me feeling endlessly disappointed and alone.
And ultimately, it’s how I lost a perfectly good guy.
Here’s how it happened:
I expected him to be perfect…
Big mistake. The whole concept of finding someone who’s perfect for you, rather than just perfect, could never find its way into my rationale.
Sure, he fit the credentials just by looking at him. But, I literally don’t think there was a single thing wrong with him physically; he was tall, dark, handsome and strong with dimples included. And that smile was swoon worthy.
But casting that aside, I expected his actions to be as perfect as he was (and as perfect as I perceived myself to be.)
They weren’t. And I constantly found myself fighting this short temper, rambling off petty improvements, making demands and trying to shape him into what I thought was the perfect man.
…And that turned me into a bitch.
A demeaning, nagging, snobby little bitch. And, let’s be real: Nobody likes a bitch.
So, it grated on him, and he stopped being so nice to me. And the less nice he was, the bitchier I became.
It turned into this vicious cycle of who could act more careless, who would or wouldn’t text first, would be the first to move one inch closer on the couch during "Game of Thrones."
And, of course, it was never me.
Even worse, I loaded him with 1,000 pounds of expectations.
I’m the kind of person who always shows up early for an event, will drive an hour to your work just to bring you lunch if you’re hungry, walk your dog, answer your text immediately and always go above and beyond what’s expected.
So, I expected him to do the same. But, I had to learn the hard way that these kinds of expectations — or 1,000-pound expectations, as I liked to call them — are like handing your boyfriend an anvil and tossing him off a boat.
He’s lost before he even has the chance to win. And, I’m pretty sure that has to be the most horrible feeling in the world.
“Nothing I do is ever good enough for you,” he would say. Naïvely, I would reply, “I just expect to be treated a certain way.”
I cringe just thinking about it. Because in his defense, he was the most loyal, amazing, devoted and sweetest person I had ever met. I just wanted more. And it was so, so selfish.
And from there, every conversation was about improvement.
"You need to send me flowers, the right flowers."
"You should have tried harder on that exam."
"Why are you cutting the Brussels sprouts that way? I hate the Brussels sprouts cut that way."
Literally, I critiqued his Brussels sprout cutting skills when I should have been happy he was just cooking dinner for me. I totally missed the bigger picture.
Looking back, I probably would have dumped my snarky ass, too.
But, the biggest mistake of all is I lost my perfectly good self, too.
Somewhere along the way, I thought I was defined by the way I was being treated, that my happiness was completely controlled by those around me rather than myself.
I concluded something as simple as a forgotten “good morning” text meant I wasn’t loved and wasn’t important.
When really, it just meant he was busy or forgot to hit send.
And I think a lot of us — mainly women — think this way. We overanalyze the actions of our boyfriends, our husbands and our “it’s complicated” hookups from Tinder because we’re looking for a deeper meaning in something so simple.
And it makes us sick. It makes us unhappy. It makes us look to fix it. It makes us lose perfectly good guys.
And so, maybe it’s true. Maybe, we don’t know what we have until it’s gone — until we can’t taste it, touch it or feel it anymore.
But even though I lost a perfectly good guy, I managed to find an even better self. And for me, that is making all the difference.