Is Your Relationship Caught in the Comparison Trap?

Do you ever find your mind drawing comparisons between yourself and your peer, your friend, your family member, or even a complete stranger?

Sometimes, you might even compare your relationship to the relationships of people around you.

Especially in this age of social media and technology, we are constantly exposed to “data” about other people, so it’s nearly impossible to avoid looking at this data and thinking about how our own lives look in comparison.

Comparison is a harmful trap.

When we compare ourselves to others, we tend to fall short. This is because the “data” we often use to make the comparison is really selective. We see the “highlight reels” of other people’s lives, rather than the whole picture.

We see the cute Instagram picture of a smiling couple with a loving caption, the Facebook status update announcing a new home, a promotion at work, a baby on the way, a new car, all the happy things. What we don’t often see is the real life stuff in between all those successes. The hard times, the bad days, the stressful, messy moments.

It’s not just through social media that this happens. Sometimes, when we interact with people out in public, we may find ourselves focusing on the best features of that person, and then comparing ourselves to those.

So, of course it makes sense that when you look at all those happy moments and all those great features, you say to yourself, “My life doesn’t look like that at all.”


The thing is, when you keep making these comparisons over and over again and fall short every time, you start to think, “If I am not like so-and-so, I must not be successful”, “I must not be happy”, or “I must not be (fill in the blank)”. You start having trouble recognizing your own successes, achievements, and features, because you are so focused on the ones you lack.

When this happens, your relationship falls into the trap too. You start focusing on the things your relationship and your partner might lack as well.

You find yourself holding the relationship to expectations that are unrealistic, and you start seeing only the negative qualities of your partner rather than the things you love about them. You might even find yourself wanting your partner to succeed just so you can look better.

Your partner might start feeling like nothing they do is good enough for you. You might begin to think, “If this relationship isn’t like X and Y’s, it must not be meant to be”.

See how dangerous this trap can become?

It’s so important to have self-compassion. You are not perfect, and that’s okay. You might not have the same kind of success or the same great features as another person, but the achievements and qualities you do have are valuable too.

Your relationship, like every relationship, is imperfect too. It can be messy, complicated, and stressful. Your partner’s imperfections, like yours, make them human. Embrace your partner for all that they are, and don’t focus on the things they are not.

Have compassion for all the parts of your life: the good, the bad and the ugly.

When you see a friend, peer, or stranger and your mind points out their successes or good features, notice if any feelings of envy or jealousy come up. Gently tell those feelings that they aren’t necessary. You don’t need to put yourself down. You can have peace and contentment with who you are and where you are in life. You can celebrate your own successes and achievements and those of others.

If you can do this, you will find the happiness that you were looking for. It was right there in front of you the whole time.


If you’d like to learn more about the Comparison Trap and how not to fall into it, click here.

Photo by Ibrahim Boran on Unsplash






This “Relationship Hack” Changes the Game For Couples During Arguments

In this day and age, instant gratification is all around us. We have gotten used to having a quick fix for almost everything.


Unfortunately, there isn’t a quick fix for a lot of big relationship problems. Most of them require hard work and patience.

But, there are some in-the-moment tools that couples can use to make the problem more manageable.

YouTuber “Prince Ea” posted the video below that outlines a great 5-step tool for couples who often find themselves getting into intense and heated arguments.

Pretty interesting “hack”, right?

You might be thinking, “There’s no way a couple in the middle of fighting can stop and do this.”

I’m not going to lie. It would be difficult.

But here’s why I think pausing an argument is extremely effective:

Anger and stress can interfere with our ability to think clearly, speak in healthy ways, and react appropriately.

When we are angry, we’re more likely to say something we didn’t mean to, take something our partner says personally, and think in ways that aren’t in the best interest of the relationship. We stop looking at the big picture.

As the video shows, taking deep breaths, focusing on the present moment, holding hands, and embracing are some things we can do to stop these negative interactions in their tracks.

They slow us down at the physiological, mental, and emotional levels.

As our heart rates slow, we are better able to think logically about the situation, or maybe even realize that this is a battle we don’t even want to fight anyways.

And if it is an issue that really does need attention, that’s a great opportunity to get the help of a mediator who can make sure you resolve the conflict without causing further damage.

Featured photo by Luiz Hanfilaque on Unsplash

The Fear of Loneliness

My book club chose to read An American Marriage by Tayari Jones last month. It’s a roller coaster of a story about a marriage that faces several obstacles, including one partner being incarcerated, infidelity, and “in-law” problems, to name a few.

In one of the husband’s letters to his wife from prison, he said something that really stood out to me.

“The one thing I don’t miss is how we fought so much. I can’t believe we wasted so much time fussing over nothing. I think about every time I hurt you. I think about the times when I could have made you feel secure, but I let you worry simply because I liked being worried about. I think about that and I feel like a damn fool. A damn lonesome fool.”

Lonesome. I thought that a curious choice of words. Even while fussing and bickering with his wife, his inner experience was one of loneliness.

I thought about how loneliness, or more specifically the fear of loneliness, really drives a lot of our actions in our relationships.

It’s no secret to researchers that loneliness has drastic effects on our mental and physical health. It is one of our primal instincts to connect with other people. We need it not only to survive, but to thrive.

everton-vila-140207-unsplashPhoto by Everton Vila on Unsplash

When we feel that these connections are being threatened, and that there is a risk of feeling lonely and disconnected from the ones we love, it can feel very scary.

It may even lead us to act in ways that further strain these connections.

Imagine a recent argument you had with your partner, or a family member, or a close friend.

When you boil it down to the root of the disagreement, what do you hear?

Do you hear yourself yearning to be closer to your partner?

Do you hear your friend wishing you’d included her in that event last weekend?

Maybe it’s the voice of a family member who felt misunderstood by you?

In each of these situations, the conflict came from a threat to the connection you and that person had. Sure, it wasn’t presented in that way, and it may even have been presented in a totally counterproductive and possibly even hurtful way.

But often, when a conflict comes up between two people who love each other, it’s because one of them felt that their connection was at risk.

When you were fuming at your partner for forgetting about your dinner plans, there was likely a little voice in the back of your head saying “maybe this connection isn’t as strong as I thought it was”.

Here comes that lonely feeling.

And then comes the fear, and then comes the anger, and then comes the argument.

So, if you find yourself in an argument with a loved one, I encourage you to take a second and try to listen for that voice. Whether it’s yours or your loved one’s, try and find the underlying reason one of you is upset.

Odds are, one of you is looking for more closeness.