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Competition: A Relationship Killer

There are many behaviors that can slowly destroy a relationship, and “competition” is at the top of the list.

Here’s some of the most common ways it’s done:

Keeping a mental list of who does the most, one-upping, being oppositional regardless of the situation, excluding your partner in social settings, comparing assets (both personal and material), and the worst one . . . always turning conversations back to you when your partner needs you to listen.Partners who compete much of time build up great resentment toward each other.

They also feel unloved, and ultimately don’t trust their partner to have their back. They feel misunderstood and criticized.

There’s really no place for competition in close personal relationships.

It’s fine in the boardroom, but not at home, not between good friends, not between parent and child, and certainly not between spouses. Nothing good comes of it.

Personal Relationships are Collaborative

Personal relationships, whether marital, couple, parent-child, or friendship, are by nature collaborative.

The whole idea of such relationships are to feel connected, provide support, act in ways that are complimentary to each other, foster trust, have each other’s best interests at heart, and love.

Such relationships should better all parties involved. They should feel like safe places.

6 Ways to Avoid Competition

#1 Ditch the Sarcasm

Don’t respond to sarcastic quips or competitive statements with a comeback. For sarcastic statements, you can say how the statement makes you feel: “You may be kidding with me, but that hurts.”

For a competitive statement, the best defense is to go with it. If your partner says, ” I do way more housework than you do,” you might come back with, “Yes, you do a lot of housework and I very much appreciate it.”

If she continues to try and get you to join in the competition, ask what she would like you to do to help.

Don’t respond to the invitation to compete. If you’re not able to take that approach, then remain silent until you can enter into a discussion that isn’t adversarial.

Sometimes this is really difficult to do, but you can get good at it if you practice. Always go for an observation or investigation of the real feeling or problem that’s underneath the competitive or sarcastic statement.

#2 Always Be Respectful and “Do Unto Others”

Make sure that you treat your partner, friend, or child with the kind of love and respect you would like. That means no harsh criticism, no sarcasm or scorn, no competitive statements, and conversely, a show of appreciation for whatever’s right.

  • Parents that compete with their children are actually envious and threatened by them and want to make them feel small.
  • Friends who compete feel either superior or inferior at different times.
  • Partners who compete may have a history of conflict and be angry with each other, or in some cases, have a need to make the other person feel less than.

In all of these cases, the problem is either feelings of insecurity yourself, or pent up resentment and anger you haven’t addressed directly.

If you find yourself being competitive in a relationship, examine your own self-image and work on areas of dissatisfaction.

If you have standing unresolved issues, then tackle them directly and calmly and without a competitive or angry edge.

#3 Acknowledge Things That Go Well

Focus on things that go well, and on experiences with each other that are positive and affirming. If you’ve read my blog, “Catch “Em Doing Good,” you get the idea.

#4 Listen and Empathize

Take time to listen to the other with an open mind, and with empathy. People want to be understood, no matter what their age is or who they are. Listening and understanding create real and lasting bonds.

#5 Make Sure You’re Pulling Your Weight

Make sure you are doing your part.

If married or living with a partner, make sure that you’re sharing responsibilities and pitching in to run the household.

Take a real look at what your partner does and appreciate his contributions. If you feel things are really one-sided, then have a conversation about that in a straight-forward manner. Don’t try and drive the point home with sarcasm or criticism.

#6 Be a Collaborator

Just remember, you’re best friends, not adversaries. If you can burn this idea into your memory and bring it up when you feel competitive with a partner, you’ll do a lot to deepen your bond and avoid unnecessary problems.

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