Relationship Help: Stop Comparing Your Relationship with Others

September 2, 2015 by

We humans compare things instinctively, from brands of laundry detergent to different recipes for pineapple upside-down cake. It’s natural if you find yourself comparing your partner to others—after all, you chose your partner because you love him or her more than others.

However, the way you approach comparisons can have a big impact on the health and happiness of your relationship. Comparing your relationship to another can be healthy and beneficial if you are focusing on the positives. Alternatively, focusing on the negatives can stir up feelings of jealousy and discontent.

Below, I’ve listed some strategies for putting an end to detrimental comparisons and criticisms so you can focus on appreciating the value in your relationship and the good in your partner.

Recognize critical comparisons. How do you feel when you witness the successes of other people and relationships? Imagine you spend time with a couple that seems very happy and sexually active, or has just taken a vacation to an expensive resort. Maybe you notice that a friend’s spouse is more helpful around the house, or has a higher paying job.

If you find yourself feeling jealous, resentful, or annoyed, the first step to putting an end to these negative feelings is to recognize them when they appear. By simply trying to overlook or swallow these feelings, you can end up allowing them to simmer and resurface in the future.

Identify the triggers. When you notice yourself reacting in a jealous way, see if you can identify what is triggering that feeling—whether it’s insecurity, anxiety, or fear of not being good enough yourself. If you can identify the cause of your jealous thoughts, you may find it easier to confront these thoughts and identify more reasonable and positive ways to react.

Make a gratitude list. One effective strategy for challenging feelings of jealousy and insecurity about your relationship is to make a list of the things you are grateful for in your relationship and partner. Make a list of favorite memories, thoughtful things your partner has done for you, and other qualities you love about your relationship. Try to update the list on a regular basis, and refer to it whenever you notice you are feeling critical, jealous, or anxious about your relationship.

Talk it out. When you find yourself feeling jealous, you can relieve negative thoughts by sharing your concerns, misgivings, and questions with your partner. You may want to consider holding these sensitive conversations in a Portland couples counseling session, where an experienced therapist can mediate the discussion in a safe space. Your therapist may be able to help you better understand the root of your jealous feelings, and provide you with practical relationship help tools for putting an end to insecurities and approaching comparisons in a positive and beneficial way.