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Three Types of Perfectionism

Three Types of Perfectionism | Written By: Melissa D. Cope

When we think of a perfectionist, we are usually talking about a person who have such high standards that they try not to make any mistakes.  But there are two other types of perfectionism that can stand alone, or go hand in hand with this “self-oriented perfectionism.”  The other two types are “social perfectionism” and “other-oriented” perfectionism.

Social Perfectionists believe that the world and everyone around them expects perfection.  They are not just beating themselves up when they are not perfect, they are constantly looking for outside cues by watching the reactions of others.  They are unlikely to share stories of their mistakes and they certainly would not ask for help, because that would be a sign that they are incapable of doing it all themselves and thus imperfect.  Shame and feeling like a fraud are the results of social perfectionism.

Other-Oriented Perfectionists expect perfection from others. This can wreak havoc on both work and personal relationships.  When others are held to unattainable standards there is a lot of criticism and judgment. Both of these will eat away at even a great relationship, destroying trust and connection which are integral to healthy interactions.

Every Perfectionist is different.  There are people who are only self-oriented perfectionists.  Think of elite athletes for example.  However most often the three types blend and can be seen in different combinations in different individuals.

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