The need to compete is natural among humans. As a couple however, you are, in many ways, a single entity. The way you respond to competitiveness within the relationship can indicate whether you are truly committed to each other or not.
Obviously, getting a little overzealous on board-game night or when you’re playing Mario Kart can be fun and healthy. So if you just happen to be a game/sports kind of couple, there are many areas where competing is just fine. However, when it comes to areas such as finance, careers, or family matters, overly competing with your partner could be a bad sign.
How Do You Respond To Success?
When you have a success such as a promotion, do you find yourself gloating to your partner? What about when your partner gets the promotion… Are you jealous or envious? If the answer is yes, then you may not be as committed to this partner as you should be.
On the other hand, if you’re genuinely happy when your partner has a success story, that’s a good indicator that you’re in it for the long haul. Celebrating the successes of your partner and empathizing with their failures is a hallmark of a committed relationship.
But What if You’re Just Overly Competitive?
It might seem like a chicken-or-the-egg scenario, but being overly competitive can give your partner the impression that you don’t want them to succeed.
Someone looking for a long-term healthy relationship will find it difficult to stay in one if it’s not mutually beneficial.
Remember, one of the benefits of a relationship is the idea that you both make each other better people.
You’re More Concerned About Winning an Argument Instead of Finding a Resolution
This is a huge kick in the balls to most relationships. And many couples don’t even realize they’re doing it.
Some fighting in a relationship is considered normal and, in many cases, healthy. But there is a right way to argue.
Having a fight with your partner shouldn’t be about winning the fight, it should be about coming to a resolution for what caused the fight in the first place. This means real communication aside from the desire to name-call or win verbal points.
How to Stop Competing Unhealthily
Again, if you happen to go hard with your significant other during a round of video games, that’s not a sign that there’s anything wrong with your relationship. But if you find yourself resenting them because they make more money than you, or got a bigger raise last year, or something else of similar importance, it’s time to check yourself.
When you find yourself feeling resentful or jealous, put yourself in your partner’s shoes and consider how they’d feel knowing you were resentful or jealous. This little exercise can go a long way to realizing if your own feelings are justified.
Get Couples Therapy
A lot of folks balk at the idea of therapy sessions, but couples therapy is very popular and convenient. More importantly, couples therapy is effective.
Being competitive with your partner in an unhealthy way is quite common and just about every licensed therapist is familiar with it. They can provide exercises and open communication gateways to get to the root of the problem.
Communicate Your Feelings
Finally, while it sounds awfully cliche, telling your partner in a non-aggressive way that you feel the need to compete can help alleviate the problem. Getting it out into the open helps you stay accountable to yourself and to your partner.
Sources & Additional Reading
1. Psychology Today: When Couples Compete
3. Huffington Post: All Couples Fight. Here’s How Successful Couples do it Differently