Do you sometimes look at your friends’ partners and compare yours to theirs? Or do you see on Facebook that your friend’s husband surprised her with a weekend away and you think: Why doesn’t my husband do that?
Studies have found that a person can become demoralized when constantly reminded of his or her shortcomings. You can start resenting your partner and even risk romanticizing the other person that you compare your partner with.
You might argue that your partner must stop being so insecure and just get over it, but have you ever thought of what it does to your partner and to your relationship when you compare your partner to others and your partner falls short in that comparison?
According to psychologists the way you see your relationship will determine how you deal with your partner’s shortcomings when compared to others.
You may know that your partner lacks in some areas, but if you see your relationship as a team, you will protect your partner, and your relationship, by minimizing the shortcoming as “not so important”. You will see yourself as part of a unit, and that unit, or team, is made up of your combined strengths. So your partner might not be the best cook, but he is smart and funny. If you see your relationship as a team, his lack of cooking skills is less important, because you are a great cook. As a team you have combined strengths.
Psychologists refer to this as “self-other overlap”. This happens when romantic partners start thinking more of “we” than “I” and “me”. If you are high in “self-partner overlap” you start seeing your partner as a part of you – your team. So when comparing, you are actually not only comparing your partner to others, but you are comparing yourself as part of a team as well.
According to psychologist, those people will remain regarding their partners in a positive light in spite of their shortcomings when compared. The extent to which you will protect your partner, and your relationship, from negative comparisons, will depend on the extent to which you see yourself as part of your team.
If you are low on “self-partner overlap” and thus more of a “me” person, you will find it difficult to see you and your partner as a unit, and you will focus more on his or her shortcomings, which will make it more difficult to maintain a happy relationship.
This “self-other overlap” may explain why some people protect their partners and why others “blame” their partners when they fall short in comparisons.
We all compare our partners at some point. This can lead to a lot of conflict and stress. If you are aware of the fact that you are doing this and that this is causing stress and conflict in your relationship, maybe it’s time to take a step back. Ask yourself, are you a “me” person, or are “we” a team? By focusing on the fact that you are part of a team with combined strengths you might be able to deal with it a lot better when you do compare your partner and he or she falls short in the comparison.
Remember this is the person you chose, with their strengths and weakness, together with your strengths and weaknesses you make a team!