A perfect relationship. A perfect job. Perfect feelings. A perfect friend. Perfect results. A perfect day. What could seem more like the perfect friend than perfection?

We take the desire for it perfectly for granted!

Yet, somehow, perfection often eludes us. I just don’t feel right. My partner turns out to be different from what I thought. I hate my job. Love has let me down. I could feel better. Anyway, I can’t really figure out what I want…or should want.

It seems there are so many ways to express the lack of perfection that actually is in our lives. So why is its absence such a mystery?

What in fact makes perfection such an enemy?

Each man of us is encouraged to examine the unique ways that “I personally” crave for perfection. Each man of us is encouraged to name the personal ways in which perfection is my enemy.

Please add your wisdom to our community.

Tags: enemy, feelings, hate, love, mystery, partner, perfection, wisdom

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BTW: this was originally the theme of a men's retreat but due to a unforeseen eventuality the weekend was canceled. So, I thought I would contribute here for the AoM community to contemplate. Seems like the perfect place for it!

Perfection is one of those things that I think is greatly misunderstood for a lot of people.  I knew a woman who was constantly unhappy because she felt she was supposed to be "perfect" and then, when she decided it was beyond her, she was unhappy because she stopped trying to improve her life and make of herself a better person.  Personally, I think perfection is one of those things we should always be reaching for, but should not expect in the here and now.  I see it more as a journey and less of a final destination.  I believe it is good to both hope for and work toward improving the things about ourselves and our lives that we don't like so much, but must not judge ourselves against others and the ways we persieve, usually falsely, them to be better than us in some way.  That is how I see it.

I don't think that perfection is the enemy, i think its our own needs and desires and the insatiable attitude we can sometimes be overwhelmed by.  

The idea of perfection itself is a subjective term used interchangeably with other superlatives like success, wealth, and love.  It seems like an elusive mystery because as humans our lives are always evolving and as such our needs are always evolving.  And as men our needs are always struggling with social awareness and personal desires.  We may want a nice car one day or the perfect relationship then something occurs and we no longer want these things.  What is perfection?  Your perfection might be my imperfection.  

Personally I struggle with the idea of having the perfect body, not in a glamour kind of way but in a healthy, physically fit kind of way. I suppose glamour can be implied but that isn't to say it is my main drive for physicality.  Does my perfect relationship mean never arguing, relaxing and finding a never ending compromise to the everyday dilemmas that come up?  My perfect relationship is a loving girlfriend who i want to be around, who wants to give me that exact same things I want to give her, endless orgasms HAHA but seriously...

Perhaps its not the pursuit of perfection but rather the "standards of perfection" that are the enemy, ie being too picky.  There's a difference between wanting to attain something valiant and valuable, and "setting yourself up for failure".  I may think the perfect job would be to play in the NBA, sexing lots of women, and living in Miami, but at 5'5" am i setting myself up for failure?

its being able to satisfy and exceed those standards that makes things perfect, and if those standards weren't inherently unreachable then perfection wouldn't always seem lilke a fading mystery, or something that deteriorates with time further leading us to believe it wasn't "perfection" to begin with.

Its unattainable and therefore ridiculous to be constantly looking for it.  You will always be unhappy.  Learn to love what you have and can attain. 

There's value in trying to achieve your own personal perfection, but that's just to keep you moving forward. 

"What in fact makes perfection such an enemy?"

Missed the bridge you crossed to get from where you were to there.  How is perfection an enemy at all?   "A man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?"  - Robert Browning, from "Andrea Del Sarto"

It only becomes a problem if you constantly beat yourself up about not attaining it.  I don't expect to attain it.  But I aim for it, and try to come as close as I can.  Sometimes that's closer than other times.  I rejoice in those times.  The other times just make me work harder, which is not a bad thing...

Perfection may not be a problem, but insisting on it sure is!  My perfect world, and if something disturbs it, I can brood.  If someone disturbs it, I can resent.  

From other responses here, I get that others find OP's lack of perfection to be a barrier.  Which is exactly what OP is talking aobut.

I don't think its the lack of perfection its the lack of a pursuit of anything.  Pursuit of something implies a desire to have it, and a desire to have it further implies it is an ideal of something,  And if your are pursuing anything ideal, you are pursuing the perfect of something (perfect in your eyes, to your standards).  Why pursue anything if not to pursue the ideal? Why embrace mediocrity when we have the ability to be great?

i was pointing out that its not the perfection that is the enemy but the unrealistic standards that determine perfection. 

This is semantics. . . but what you are describing "perfect in your eyes, to your standards" is what I call excellence. I think perfection is a lie. Okay, Miles Davis 'Blue 'n Green' is the exception.

I don't agree.  I think excellence and perfection are the same thing, but one can strive for excellence in something they will never be capable of being "excellent" at or "perfect" at.  The rigors of what you perceive to be excellence, or perfection, are the enemy.  ie. How can something be attained if it is not attainable?  To illustrate to the extremest sense.  I view being able to fly as being perfect.  Yet I am a human and have no biological wings, nothing innate that'll allow me to fly, even if I trained day in day out, i will never fly.  So I am setting myself up for disappointment, because even when I get in a plane, or get my pilots license i will never have perfection to my eyes.  The enemy isn't the pursuit of perfection, it is the unattainable ideals of perfection.  My perfect woman is Jessica Alba, not lookalikes, only Jessica Alba.  How is my "perfect woman" reachable?  When will i ever be able to meet her, and if I do, will i even be able to land a date? Will this date lead to a lasting relationship, will we move in together and someday get married and have sweet babies?  Very doubtful.  

I think the issue isn't whether or not perfection and excellence are the same thing; it's more of an issue of perfection being ambiguous as a concept.  Do we mean perfect in an absolute sense?  Or perfect for an intended purpose?

To me, the first sense of the word is meaningless, and it's mental masturbation to worry about it.  The second is obviously a moving target - our objectives change, our expectations change, our values change, and our understanding of our needs/desires/etc evolve.  And this kind of perfection only exists in a specific context, anyway, with respect to a specific intended use - it's often ephemeral.

Do we need to have an explicit understanding of "perfect" before we can have a concept of "better", or "worse", or "good enough"?  I don't think so, though I guess the classical philosophers that hang around here would probably disagree.

A lot of this discussion seems to focus on perfection being the enemy because it's not attainable, and if we believe in the idea of perfection, we will be unhappy.  This is the part that I don't get.  I can almost always think of a way for something to be better than it is, for some purpose I can imagine.  But I think I spend a lot more time figuring out how to accomplish what I want to accomplish with what's at hand, or trying to make what's at hand better (not necessarily perfect) for what I want to accomplish, than I do moaning about it not being perfect.

No need to dump the concept.  Only the neurotic self-punishment for not achieving it. 

I agree.  The word is meaningless, just a level of value for an end goal.  We do not need to know what perfection is to know something has gotten better or worse.  

I do think that perfection or "better" or "best" is attainable but its the how far until its "better" or "best"?  of course we know when something has improved and gotten closer to "better" or "best" but is it close enough? ie. standards and satisfaction with those standards.

I agree that we should do the best we can with what we have, but sometimes we can get clouded with what is the best, that sometimes the best we think is the best may be unreachable. 

Its not perfection thats the enemy.  Wnating to be the best is a valiant effort but what does it mean to be the "best"?  The best at what? what is your standard for judging good better best etc.   Its the standards that are harmful, too low and we are settling for mediocrity and not living to our potential, too high and we are living in a perpetual state if disappointment and dissatisfaction.  

"I do think that perfection or "better" or "best" is attainable but its the how far until its "better" or "best"?  of course we know when something has improved and gotten closer to "better" or "best" but is it close enough? ie. standards and satisfaction with those standards."

That's because, along with "better", or "worse", or "best" (in the sense of a comparison with other options, not in an absolute sense), we also need the concept of "good enough". 

I'm an engineer.  Part of our education is learning to decide when something is good enough, close enough, a reasonable compromise of cost, quality, functionality.  The best solution is the one that gets you to the point where something does what it's supposed to do, as well as it needs to do it, at the least cost.  And the best solution today might not be the best solution tomorrow, but that's ok.

You can really waste a lot of time worrying about being the best. On the other hand, it's usually not a waste of time at all figuring out how to be better.

The fundamental point here isn't philosophical, though - it's psychological.  There's an implicit assumption in what you said, and it's that assumption that I have so much trouble with, i.e. that if you aren't meeting your standards, you're living in a perpetual state of disappointment and dissatisfaction, and that the only alternative is to set the standards lower and live in mediocrity.  And that the only way off this treadmill of dissatisfaction or acceptance of mediocrity is to eliminate the idea of standards altogether.

You can keep looking at yourself and the the things you do and finding ways to improve them, without being disappointed.  It's the force that drives us to continue.  Life would be so boring if there were no "better" to keep shooting for.  I guess my satisfaction comes more from staying on the road, than from getting to the destination... 


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