9 Clear Signs You’re a Perfectionist (And It’s Ruining Your Life)

Depression, binge eating, no sex drive … Here’s how to escape the surprising pitfalls of being a perfectionist.

Your sex life is suffering

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Having a perfectionist attitude can torpedo your love life, according to a new study from the University of Kent. “Striving for flawlessness” and being overly critical of yourself and others significantly reduces sexual satisfaction—even if you’re not focusing on sex in particular, the researchers said. Not only are you less likely to be satisfied (literally and metaphorically) in the bedroom but your partner suffers too. The researchers noted a marked drop in self-esteem and a rise in sexual dysfunction in people whose partners were perfectionists. Sound like you? Make a conscious effort to check your perfectionism at the bedroom door and focus on expressing all the things you love and enjoy about your partner—you’ll both be hotter and happier in no time. You can also try these 11 simple habits to stop overthinking.

Meditation doesn’t work for you

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It makes sense that perfectionists would be more stressed out than more easy-going people—we live in an uncontrollably imperfect world, after all. But it turns out that not only are perfectionists more likely to be stressed, they’re also less likely (or less able) to take advantage of proven stress-reduction techniques like meditation and yoga, according to a study just published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. One of the reasons, the researchers speculated, may be due to a fear of not being able to do the techniques just right. But we have good news for you: There is no right or wrong way to relax! So instead of focusing on the results (“Why isn’t my stress gone yet?!”), focus on the process and let yourself go with the flow.

You always stay later than your coworkers

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Being able to laser focus on the task at hand and having a critical eye for detail are both positive traits of perfectionism—up to a point. Perfectionists at work often find themselves working harder and longer than their coworkers, unable to leave a project until everything is done just right. In addition, being a control freak may mean they take on more work than others or even do their coworkers’ jobs for them. And this has a serious negative impact on relationships both at work and at home, according to research published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences. So while it might be tempting to give your inner perfectionist free reign at the office, it’s better for your relationships and your mental sanity to limit your skills to projects directly under your control. And when it’s time to clock out? Leave work at work. Try these 36 ways to beat stress at work.

You binge on junk food

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Not even the most perfect perfectionist can maintain tight control over every aspect of their lives at all times. Eventually they crack under the pressure. One of the more common ways they cope is through binge eating, according to research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Eating compulsively allows the person both the temporary high of the sugar and fat as well as the mental escape from their chronic feelings of failure, explains Simon Sherry, PhD, lead author and an assistant professor of psychology at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. “Think about it—when was the last time that you were rapidly eating a pizza and pondering a major life decision at exactly the same time?” he says. But binge eating can have serious health consequences so if you find yourself consistently turning to food as a way to deal, seek out professional help.

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