Living with a perfectionist – The beginning!
I have come a long from dating a guy from Kanpur to marrying the quirky human being. Since we moved here, I have been asked this question a lot – did you follow an arranged system of marriage? No, I did not. But it doesn’t mean I lived with him before we moved in together as man and wife. I would have loved that, though! There are few things which you learn about somebody ONLY after living with them. I dated bae for close to two and a half years before marrying him.
Though we have travelled together very frequently before getting hitched the essence of every personality trait can only be identified once you start living together – without any other available option. If you have read my post where I talked about my first quarter of matrimony, you can relate to the title of living with a perfectionist.
Before I proceed with my whining and plights, I want to make a few things very clear. The spectrum of mental health disorders is vast. This post is about dealing with a perfectionist and has nothing to do with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or OCD. While perfectionism is a personality trait, it may or may not be a symptom of OCD. I have mindfully made it a habit to not to use the term “OCD” loosely or as a premise of any joke.
Tagging any obsessive behaviour to be neat and organized as OCD is insensitive and ignorant. We educated ourselves well with the topic of OCD before I decided to write this post, and you can do that too. There are many medical resources and journals available. This post is a humorous take on my partner’s obsession with symmetry and organization. I don’t intend to hurt anyone’s mental space or emotions.
Living with a perfectionist is not easy!
So yes, coming back to my whining. Professionally, bae is a quality assurance engineer – so his eye for details seemed justified. But that is the story before we tied the knot. I discovered that apart from being a perfect partner, bae is also a perfectionist. I often see myself trapped in the chicken and egg dilemma – is he a perfectionist because he is a QA engineer or is he a passionate QA engineer because he is a perfectionist?
Living with a perfectionist seems pretty sorted in the beginning. Come to think of it – I live in a house where no cupboard or drawer or counter is ever disorganized. It’s like having your own Mary Kondo. It’s a blessing.
Does that remind you of Monica from Friends? It does.
Do you find that cute? I did.
You love it in the beginning. As I said, it’s a blessing. Then, it grows on to you. And then, finally, it drives you crazy.
Having said that, I don’t mean it has caused any kind of trouble in my marital life. Not yet.
I have always enjoyed organized chaos in my life. I don’t run after perfection where it’s not needed. I truly believe in saving my energy. I don’t fret over it. Neither I burn myself for it. I am okay if my forks go in the spoon section and my knives go in the fork section. I don’t even bother if all my mugs don’t face the same direction.
But that and everything else related bothers bae way more than it should.
The numeric compulsion
TV volume: 20, 25, 30, 35.
Room temperature: 68, 70, 72, 74.
Baking temperature: 375, 400, 425.
You get the idea, don’t you?
Even the bills we pay – like credit cards – has to go in round figures. These are not any service bills where you deliberately round the amount with tips. Just regular utility bills.
The weird satisfaction
We have a paper shredder. It sits my living area. None of us has jobs which are paper-intensive. We both work digitally. Most of our invoices and anything that might result in paper wastage is being generated online. But we still have a paper shredder. You ask why? Because the satisfaction of seeing paper torn perfectly is oddly satisfying.
The obsession with symmetry
Bae wastes a lot of time reorganizing the kitchen cabinets. You can find him rearranging the coffee mugs, rotating them by a few degrees. Or maybe he is aligning the soup bowls correctly.
Not just that, I have now given up on explaining why is it okay if the quarter plates go in before the dinner plates in the dishwasher.
Germaphobia, before it was cool
I don’t think our consumption of sanitizer and disinfectant has gone up during the pandemic. We both are cleanliness freaks in our own ways. But bae is definitely a perfectionist even there!
That summarizes living with a perfectiont! But now we move on the bigger question, that is:
Is perfectionism bad?
I am not against perfectionism. Professionally, I have always strived for it and achieved it too. But how much is too much perfection? If that makes you defensive against constructive criticism, it’s not right. If you are also very critical of others, that is not good either. Let people be. If you invest too much time in it, it affects your efficiency. The boundary is murky. Let’s learn to be mindful of that.
What do I do? Deal like a pro!
I tried to talk to a lot of my friends and readers about how they deal with such finicky behaviour. I realized that the people I spoke to are a li’l bit like bae in one way or the other. Then I turned to the ultimate guru – Google. It scared the hell out of me. I found how perfectionism has resulted in broken marriages. Or how this bug is a relationship killer.
So I decided to deal with it on my own. Talking about it to him made it clear that we ain’t dealing with OCD here. Now with that being established, it was time to unleash the chaotic beast in me.
I deliberately jumble up the spoons and forks. There is no difference in the size or shape of their designated spaces. But bae still keeps the spoons in the second draw-store and the forks in the fourth one. I harmlessly interchange that.
I make sure that every time I refill the toilet paper, it’s done the other way. Oh, I love the silent retaliations that follow. Similarly, I put the dishes in the dishwasher and make bae take them out after they are done. Of course, I never put the dishes the way he likes them.
I think we are both establishing our grounds – in our own ways. We don’t fight over it or complain about it. Is there a better way to deal with this?
The silver lining
Our apartment is not messy. I love to clean, and he loves to organize. The teamwork is commendable. Also, bae is not a picky eater. I don’t have to spend a lot of time deciding on the menu. So, its time I start being grateful for that more and rant a li’l less!