2007-07-29

Relationship Comparison Syndrome

Why trying to compete with other couples is bad news for your love life?

If you could choose to be part of any celebrity duo, which one would be top of your list? Heath and Michelle? Nicole and Keith? Cameron and Justin? Be honest - you've thought about what it would be like - we all have and that's cool because we know there's no way we will ever be running with the Paris or Angelina crowd. But it's an altogether different story if you're comparing yourself to the couples on your social radar. By constantly noting how boyfriend's behaviour compares with other's boyfriend's, whether or not you hold hands as often as other couples or get a good enough bithday present compared with your bestie, you're setting youself up for plenty of relationship dissatisfaction and bedroom fights.

"Trying to jugde how good, strong, loving or committed your own relationship is by weighing it up against couples around you is a big mistake," says relationship counselor, Taylor Ferguson. "It puts you into a head space where you are likely to look for the negatives rather than the positives. How a relationship appears on the outside is no indication of what it's really like. For example, a couple who can't keep their in public may fight lots at home or have a great sex life but very poor communication about other issues."

1."They have sex three times a week or more - what's wrong with us?"
You ring and your girlfriend answer the phone giggling and saying she can't talk because they're busy getting their gear off or you meet them for dinner and they keep nuzzling and nibbling each other's ears. These two just can't keep their hands off each other and they make a point of letting everyone know it. On one hand, it makes your skin crawl and sometimes you feel like rolling your eyes and saying, "would you two just get a hotel room?"

On the other hand, their hot sex life makes you feel both envious and inadequate. You wouldn't mind it if your boyfriend desired you that much and you keep telling them so. But because he doesn't, you figure your sex life is somewhat under par.

The big picture: When a couple seem hell-bent on letting everyone know they make lovelike rabbits, you've got to ask yourself, what are they trying to prove? Could be they're trying to impress upon each other that the relationship is strong because in reality it's not terribly solid on the communication side.

"To feel secure in a relationship, both partners need to feel that they are loved and valued for who they are not just how much they put out or how great they look when they're naked," says Ferguson. "If the communication connection is as solid as the sexual connection then obviously it's a win-win situation, but often when there is an overwhelming focus sex, other aspects of the relationship are ignored and when the passion dies down - which is usually does in a few months or years - then the couple may struggle to stay together because their romance has been built on sex rather than true intimacy.

2."He's asked her to move in with him, why aren't we doing that yet?"
When you heard the news that your best friend was moving in with her boyfriend even though they've only been dating for a few months, you felt like you'd been kicked in the stomach. Secretly you've been hoping that your guy will make the suggestion but he shows no sign of wanting to take your relationship to that next level of commitment.



He waxes her bikini line; she goes to his footy training. He drops her at work even though it's out of his way; she goes to all his work functions. When you're around a couple who finish each other's sentences and want to do everything together, it's hard not to wonder what their secret is and whether your guy is not into you enough. But the thing about love is that it's very individual and copying another couple because they seem to have it together will not necessarily bring your relationship to a deeper level. So stop nagging your guy because he doesn't want to sit superglued to your side at every dinner or has hobbies that don't involve you - like playing squash. While he's out there engaging in life he's ensuring that he is a more fulfilled and interesting and interesting person - all attributes that will help improve your relationship.

The big picture: Being friends as well as lovers is healthy for any relationship and obviously, it helps if you have some common ground like interests you share and moral values that are similar. But there can be drawbacks as well. "In this kind of relationship, both partners can stop developing their own interests and so can stop growing as individuals," warns relationship psychologist Stephen Mallory. "Their self-absorption might cause them to annoy other couples and lose friend through neglect, placing more pressure on the romance to fulfill every need of each partner. In the long-term one person may end up feeling suffocated."

And what about sex? This kind of companionship relationship can sometimes lack excitement and sexual energy because the partners become more like brother and sister," adds Mallory. "This could create a risk that down the track one partner may meet someone who provides that spark and sexual excitement their own romance is lacking and they may consider leaving the relationship."

3."They do more together than we do"
He waxes her bikini line; she goes to his footy training. He drops her at work even though it's out of his way; she goes to all his work functions. When you're around a couple who finish each other's sentences and want to do everything together, it's hard not to wonder what their secret is and whether your guy is not into you enough. But the thing about love is that it's very individual and copying another couple because they seem to have it together will not necessarily bring your relationship to a deeper level. So stop nagging your guy because he doesn't want to sit superglued to your side at every dinner or has hobbies that don't involve you - like playing squash. While he's out there engaging in life he's ensuring that he is a more fulfilled and interesting and interesting person - all attributes that will help improve your relationship.

The big picture: Being friends as well as lovers is healthy for any relationship and obviously, it helps if you have some common ground like interests you share and moral values that are similar. But there can be drawbacks as well. "In this kind of relationship, both partners can stop developing their own interests and so can stop growing as individuals," warns relationship psychologist Stephen Mallory. "Their self-absorption might cause them to annoy other couples and lose friend through neglect, placing more pressure on the romance to fulfill every need of each partner. In the long-term one person may end up feeling suffocated."

And what about sex? This kind of companionship relationship can sometimes lack excitement and sexual energy because the partners become more like brother and sister," adds Mallory. "This could create a risk that down the track one partner may meet someone who provides that spark and sexual excitement their own romance is lacking and they may consider leaving the relationship."

4."How come we fight more than they do?"
Sometime when you out with other couples you worry that you look more like sparring partners than lovers. You argue on your way to a party because he didn't listen and took the wrong turn, they don't talk for the rest of the night or disagree in the middle of the dinner because he makes a joke that you're pre-menstrual and you hit back with complaints about his behaviour of late.

Meanwhile, the others couple are trying to pretend they're not noticing your public slanging matches. So what is it? How come they all manage to sort thing out without raising their voices while you two seem to always be at each other's throats?

The big picture: Firstly, if you are fighting a lot it might be a good idea to go to some couple's counseling or to both agree to try to take less confrontational approaches to dealing with problems in your relationship. Don't pressure It can lead you to discuss things that are bothering you and sort them out. When couples don't fight it can be because they are ultra compatible, but it could also indicate some issues that you really wouldn't want to have in your relationship.

According to Joan Gibson, couples counselor: "These may include a power imbalance - where one partner dominates all the decisions and the other feels so overwhelmed they've given up even trying to fight back. Or it could indicate a romance that's in a rut - and both partners are so jaded about the poor state of their relationship that they couldn't even be bothered on working to improve it anymore."

5."she got such a special birthday present from her boyfriend and I only got a bunch of flower.

So your boyfriend got you a CD for your 25th and you've just been out for your bestie's birthday and her man got her an antique lace shawl. As you watched her open the pressie you felt tears well in your eyes and realised how disappointed you still felt about how little thought he put into your gift. The minute you arrived home you picked a fight with him about it - accusing him of not making enough effort and always taking the slacker approach to things that should be special between you.

The big picture: Okay - so some guys are hopeless with gifts and either get the wrong kind of thing completely or buy something lame that they've clearly put no thought or time into. But the material things he buys you like flowers or jewellery - though nice to have - are not the only way you should measure the strenght of your relationship.

"Maybe your boyfriend is not that good with choosing feminine things to give you but makes up for this in other ways - by showing you how he feels," says Mallory. " If he's not gett5ing you exciting gifts but he shows his love in other ways by making you breakfast in bed or calling you during the day to say h's thinking of you, then in the scheme of things, a less-than-perfect birthday present really isn't that important. It's when you are not getting the TLC or the decent gifts that you have valid reason to complain."

8 comments:

DK said...

Like they say "scared dogs bark the loudest"!

mshaw said...

Well written. Nice site!

intiendes said...

that comparison thing wont happen if both of you are busy loving each other ... that thing comes when your insecure ... so I guess everyone should just heal their insecurities :)
http://intiendes.com

maureen said...

Qumang you are so right - what's right for two people as a couple should remain that way. If it's not broke - don't fix it is the old rule. My husband told me ages ago that we'd always have the right amount of sex and he was absolutely right. Some times you want to hump like rabbits day aftr day and sometimes you're not so dedicated. :) Well done.

Desmond said...

Rabbits?

Tiiin* said...

wow.. this helps a lot. thanks for posting this stuff. :)

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Dwi Setyo U said...

nice, cute.. n... famous.. :-)