From the headline, you are probably wondering why there should be competition at all in a relationship. But if you will look at your own relationship, you will find that there is a bit of rivalry going in at least one area.
It could be over who earns more, who cares more, who gives the better gifts, who is the better parent and on other levels that does not seem to matter but essentially add up to what your relationship is all about. And no, you are not weird or alone in this; did you know that it is instinctive for humans to compete with each other? Yes, we are born to compete for the scarce resources available.However, it is left for you and I to watch how much competition we allow into our relationships, because competition, if left unchecked can cause deep issues in a relationship.
Having had a taste of that medicine was Debbie, who dated her ex for two years. In that time, they moved in together and actually spoke frankly about marriage. But never set a deadline to bite the bait. Although, there were issues in the relationship, Debbie was optimistic that it would work out. She kept bending over, to allow for peace but at the end of a week filled with more arguments than bonding time, she had had enough and wanted to just go somewhere she could relax. But as was her habit, she tried to get her boyfriend to come along too and knowing his financial constraint, she offered to pay for the outing. That opened the flood gate of emotions and quarrels that led to the end of that relationship. Her boyfriend casually alluded to the fact that before he got into a relationship with her, he had more money and was always the one treating her to outings and bemoaned how the situations had reversed.
Debbie was floored, thoughts of all shades and range flooded her mind; she thought, “So my entry into the life of this man, had brought him no value? I had added to his pain.” She questioned if there was anything she had done physically, spiritually and in any way that could be responsible for the current state of her boyfriend.
True, he was employed when they met and was well paid but he lost his job and had since gotten another job but it was not as well paid as the last one he had but it was in a field he had passion for. Or so, Debbie thought.
But you know what? It was a lost cause; if he was not in charge or the top gun, he was not ready to play and that tore the very fabric of their relationship. Clearly, Debbie had become self-sufficient, she didn’t need him to survive but without having someone whom she could count on to have her back, advice or comfort her at the end of the day, she was being sucked and getting nothing in return. On the other hand, he had become the dependent person, which he did not like and the way he asserted his authority was to hit back at her with his words.
All her attempts to convince him that she was more concerned with his emotional resource than his bank account provided no reassurance and after realizing that while she was fighting for him, she was also in his corner and no one was fighting for her, which left a major vacuum in her life. That was a bad case of rivalry gone too far, and added into the mix was the man’s ego and the woman’s need for love. Of course, they could not continue the same way. They had to go their separate ways but it was not amicably.
On the other hand, this other couple knew that they were competitive but recognized it for what it is and tried to work on it. Both Mide and Mayowa were fitness buffs; having rippling muscles and solids abs tripped them like nothing else.
So, it used to be a race to their separate gyms every morning to see who could get the most miles on the machine, before going to work. Their friends wished they had such a relationship, since they have a hobby that they both like.
However, Mide felt not so lucky. The main reason they never used the same gym was not only for convenience (hers was close to her office) but because, she feared being beaten by him in one of the numerous in-house competitions that go on in the gym. She said, she would feel better, if someone else were to best her at the gym than for it for be her husband. So everyone got to do their own thing and shine in the sun.
It did not matter, the obvious fact that Mayowa was a man and obviously would have more muscle mass than she would; she was still set on packing on as much muscle as she could. Anyway, all that would not matter, if she starts trying to get pregnant as they have been discussing for some time now.
But thankfully, their competition starts and end in the gym, which was a good thing for their relationship, otherwise, they would have been somewhere up there with Debbie, mentioned in the previous story.
At the end of the day, competition in a relationship can kill it. But if it is the healthy sort, which leverage on the strength of both partners, then there might be hope that a something good will come of that relationship.
To deal with competition in a relationship, I found some tips from Dr. Phil himself and he said, for starters, you need to enjoy your spouse/partner instead of competing with them. You will not get anywhere by competing with them, instead be their chief cheer leader. Discover who you really are and accept yourself. “You don’t need to compare yourself to somebody else to be able to look in the mirror and be proud of whom you are,” Dr. Phil said. Once you are comfortable with yourself, in your own skin, you will not feel the need to win all the time or make someone else lose, just so you can win.
Another tip you can use to get out of the rivalry phase is to decide to stop. You are a logical thinking adult with experiences in making decisions. Deciding to stop being competitive is one decision you can make and stick to.
I hope we can all learn to let go of our competitive nature, as we mature into our relationships and learn to merge our strengths with our partner’s to bring about a more solid relationship and results.
Lastly, there are no losers in a healthy relationship.