Sweating the Small Stuff

   By drodriguez  May 01, 2008

Do you tend to have a hard time going to bed when you know there is a sink full of dishes waiting for you in the morning or maybe you feel guilty going out for dinner and leaving the kids with a sitter more than once a month?

Boston psychologist Alice Domar believes these are traits most often found in women and can be described as perfectionism. Domar recently gave an interview to Time magazine where she discussed patients she has seen that have these traits as well as similar ones like having a hard time finishing projects at work because they never seem good enough to be complete.

In the interview Domar discusses her new book Be Happy Without Being Perfect aimed to help women accept imperfections in their life with a smile. “Women are unhappy because, even if 11 out of 12 things are going well, they zero in on the one that isn’t, and they get miserable about it,” says Domar.

In a work setting perfectionism can be especially harmful as Domar explains, “if your boss on a Monday asks you to do five tasks by Friday, and you spend until Friday morning getting the first task done perfect and can’t get to the other four tasks, how happy do you think your boss is going to be?”

Domar’s reasoning for why women have perfectionist personalities more than men is that women multitask more and try to be good at more things on a daily basis. She cites a study that found men on average worry about 3 things every day, whereas women generally worry about 12 things every day. With more on our minds Domar believes it makes it easier for us to become neurotic about things like dishes and work projects.

What do you think of Alice Domar’s belief that women tend to be perfectionists?

Do you find yourself fretting over the small stuff when it isn’t done just perfect?

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airforcebrat by airforcebrat | Pulaski, TN
Aug 17, 2008

I'm a perfectionist and multitasker. Our kids are grown and gone from home and I really thought it would be easier and better. NOT. I've learned multitasking gets nothing done, so I do one thing at a time till it's done, then move on. I've learned I like my home organized and neat, but if it isn't sparkling the world will not end because of it. When my grandkids are here and make a mess, I've learned to join in and make a mess with them. When they leave I clean it up or they help clean it up. I used to make a "daily" list of things to do. I no longer make that list because I could never get it done and that stressed me too much. I tend to set goals for myself at an unattainable height, then get frustrated because I couldn't meet them. I no longer make lists, I no longer make impossible goals. I'm soooo much happier now and family and friends notice. What they don't notice is "my house"!! Too bad it took me this long to realize it.

Indigoblue by Indigoblue | Holly Springs, GA
Jul 14, 2008

I think there is so much expected of women now--raise the kids--dash to work--dash home--throw dinner on the table...long ago there were no appliances--dishwashers-sweepers...but life was slower...it wasn't expected that life was to be perfect...now we live sometimes separated by thousands of miles from our families...at times trying desperately to impress new friends that we are worthy of their love and attention....never measuring up to the glossy covers of magazines. Men emotionally disconnect--they have to have down time when they get in the house...women are expected to jump up at 3 am for any and every emergency...it takes its toll on your mindset...being obessively clean or even giving up altogether on cleaning is your being refusing to give any more until your soul/mind/body are healed and happy... In truth life is horribly short...beautiful children grow up and leave to live their own lives...being peaceful-happy and centered should be the main task of every woman...that and understanding--you are not a cleaning woman--you are beautiful just as you are--imperfectly perfect

helpinghand by helpinghand | West Milford, NJ
May 28, 2008

My best friend is that to a T! I'm trying desperately to cure her of it (lol)! My feeling is that no matter how much you dust,vacuum, scrub,etc., it's only going to return tomorrow. So,I clean, but I don't kill myself. I spend the time that I would have been doing ANOTHER chore, laughing and playing with my grandchildren. She's got high blood pressure, ulcers, bags under her eyes. I've got laugh lines. Take it from me,enjoy it NOW, while you CAN!

Highkickin58 by Highkickin58 | HOMEWOOD, IL
May 16, 2008

I'm a recovering perfectionist. Trying to balance a husband, 2 children, a dog, a job and my sanity cured me. I fight the urge all the time but have learned that letting a few things go is the key to a happy life.

Vanners by Vanners | SHERMAN OAKS, CA
May 14, 2008

?Women are unhappy because, even if 11 out of 12 things are going well, they zero in on the one that isn?t, and they get miserable about it,? says Domar. - I admit... I'm guilty :(

mommy2twogirls by mommy2twogirls | SAN ANTONIO, TX
May 14, 2008

I think my husband is more of a perfectionist than I am. I'm ok with a little clutter, but he can't stand it! I never am able to clean to his standards!

jkier2244 by jkier2244 | FARMINGTON, NH
May 08, 2008

I do like a clean and organized house but it is next to impossible to do with a family of 5! I am a student/stay at home mom so I clean up when the kids go to school and my husband is at work. I used to be terrible about a mess but have got used to it as my family grew! I give the kids chores and we all work together to get things done! Some weeks are better then others :)

Lusadi by Lusadi | Wasilla, AK
May 07, 2008

I like to have a clean organized house and sometimes I even get one. My girlfriends and I have decided that leaving dirty dishes in the sink is actually a community service designed to boost the ego of visiting friends that got theirs done! I do what I can during the day and get what I missed the next day. Any help that comes from my husband and child is appreciated. Even if the job isn't completed to my standards, it's one less thing I had to do.

kirstensapphire by kirstensapphire | Fremont, CA
May 06, 2008

I've always been a perfectionist, even as a young kid. I like things to be organized, neat and nice looking. Of course if things are not like that 100% of the time, it's ok. You have to be realistic and calm and not get bothered by a few mishapps. You know now that I think of it, I'am happy to be a self proclaimed "perfectionist". It's made my life more pleasing, and best of all alot easier!

sharman421 by sharman421 | TALLAHASSEE, FL
May 05, 2008

I think I always feel that way because I am just terminally disorganized! I multi-task way too much, especially at work. Don't even know where to begin sometimes. I feel that I have too many things on the back burner that will never completely get done!

libby1260 by libby1260 | FRANKFORT, KY
May 05, 2008

I am like that alot with stuff around the house, I go nuts trying to put things in their palces and trying to have my house set the way I want it.

Brea by Brea | Rensselaer, NY
May 02, 2008

Theres gotta be more to it than perfection. That is mild compared to obsessive compulsive. I personally think actions speak louder than words, so those dirty dishes are sitting in the sink, yelling at you, clean me, just doesn't cut it for me. I think everyone has things they need to get done to feel realxed. I know that situationaly if my dishes arn't done at night, I'd have to get up at 5am and wash the dang coffee cup. Not what I want to be doing at 5am. As for work, if you know your only gonna have to do it over if its not done right the first time, than whats the point. "how happy do you think your boss is going to be?? not very if you mess with numbers, like adding an extra 0 to 50 in an inventory order. Taking too long is one thing but getting it done in a timely manner and right, deserves the term perction. Its like those test people take on computers to even get consisdered for a job. Complete these questions in this amount of time....so insted of getting 6 right and leaving the rest, you would hurry to just get er done! The way you do things shows people how you are as peson, I strongly believe that! So what if its perfection, its better than, lazy slob! Its like an ols saying about being mad because you care. If you didn't it would show. Caring too much, thats it, thats a better way to say it :)

dsjohnsonswife by dsjohnsonswife | LAWRENCEVILLE, GA
May 02, 2008