When you’re in a relationship with someone, it’s a common occurrence that you stop and question where you are at in your “relationship timeline.” Society has a funny and ironic way of making us think that time and expereinces–in terms of romance/relationships–are synonymous. When this happens, we look around at our friends and family who are also in relationships and begin to “Venn Diagram” our relationship vs. theirs–comparing and contrasting where they’re at and where we are. It happens to everyone–it’s natural.
We see their milestones–if they moved in together, or if they’ve gone on vacation, or if they’re engaged/marrid/pregnant–and we look back at our own relationship and begin to wonder why we haven’t reached that point in our own relationship just yet. In turn, we begin to become insecure with ourselves and with what we have with our partner. These feelings manifest into resentment and anger–and before you know it, you’re holding things over your partner’s head.
Comparing your relationship to someone else’s is the quickest way to ruin it.
It’s hard to avoid comparisons when on social media, it seems as though everyone is happy and “living their best lives” as couples–especially when you feel as though your relationship has hit a brick wall and hasn’t “moved forward” or “progressed” as fast. The problem here lies with social media and people’s habits online. Let’s get real–no one is going to live-stream their arguments. No one is taking photos of the weeks they’ve stayed in and ate leftovers because they’re both tight on money until their next paychecks. No one is posting the rude comments and harsh remarks thrown across the room after a night of toxic fighting. No one is posting the backhanded comments they’re getting from their parents about their partner’s job, religion, nationality. No one is showing the broken pieces and empty spots in their “love.”
People share their finished products on social media, not the behind-the-scenes footage.
The photos and posts that you see of other couples on social media are one aspect of their relationship. The perfect photo probably took an argument or two to pose for. The picture took another 20 minutes to edit. The restaurant’s food probably was overpriced and not that good. But, you don’t know that, because no one posts about that. Social media isn’t for showing things in-real-time–rather, the “brightest parts” of our lives to show off to the rest of the world. While you’re looking at this “picture-perfect-photo,” you’re comparing it to your every single day experiences, and, that’ll only lead to disappointment.
Comparing your relationship to other people is not only counterproductive, it’s also disrespectful.
Your partner is your partner, not someone else’s. By comparing the relationship you two have to other people’s, you’re essentially saying what you two have is not unique and special. You’re devaluing your love and your experiences together because it’s not “exactly like everyone else’s.” But, who really wants to be like everyone else? Not me. You and your partner have completely unique and different pasts–with life, love, and past relationships–which may alter the way you two interact and decide to live your lives. Maybe your partner’s parents had a messy divorce and it makes them hesitant to jump into a marriage. Or, maybe you’ve been cheated on in the past, and you have a hard time trusting someone to take the “next step in your relationship.” Whatever the case, you and your partner are two individuals who have built something together just you two.
I’ve seen first-hand at how toxic a relationship can become when you fixate on other people.
My boyfriend and I are at the ages where people around us are getting engaged, getting married, and even having their first kids. My boyfriend and I, while we do live together, haven’t reached the point in our relationship where we’re ready to get married. And, to be honest–I’m not even ready to get married. But, when I look at everyone else–their engagement pictures, their wedding invitations, their happiness–I immediately begin to wonder why my boyfriend isn’t ready for marriage…even though I’m not either.
Looking at everyone else makes me lost sight of what I truly want and need.
I begin to fixate on why my boyfriend isn’t ready for a “serious commitment,” and begin to resent his hesitation to pop the question–even though we are both on a lease together, share a bed together every single night, and are planning to adopt a dog together. We couldn’t be more serious, but when I look at everyone else moving forward, I get angry that we’re not “there yet.” In turn, we fight. My boyfriend has no idea “why I’m so insecure about our relationship,” and frankly–neither do I.
Your relationship will get to where it’s meant to be.
I know that it sounds really cheesy and cliché, but your relationship will naturally get to where it is meant to be–whether that’ where you want it to be, or where it’s meant to be. Life can work really messily and badly and things may not always work out as you hope, but we can’t plan everything that happens to us. We can try to make things work, but you never want to force a situation before it’s ready to happen–in the end, you will both be unhappy. Looking at everyone else and wanting what “they have” will inevitably put you in a false sense of unhappiness. You can be in a blissful, love-filled relationship (like I am), and completely lose sight of this because it’s not where someone else is.
Do you see how crazy that is?
I’m not telling you that you’re going to swear off comparing your relationship forever–because, it’s only natural that it will happen to you every once in a while. But, it’s important to know the difference between what’s healthy and what’s toxic. Sure, you’re going to look at people’s vacation photos and wish you could be on vacation with your significant other. You’re going to see them going to great restaurants or sites and want to go there with your partner, too–and, you can. That’s completely okay. What’s not okay is to rush through your relationship and push your partner to do things they’re not ready for–and, you may not be ready for either–just because other people are there.