Tips from a Relationship and Intimacy Coach on how to stop comparing your relationship to others…
At times, when you scroll through your social media feeds, it seems like all you see is your friends going on amazing dates, incredible proposal stories, beautiful wedding ceremonies, joyful pregnancies and happy babies. You can’t help but think, “Wow, they really have it good,” and “Why don’t I have that?”. This kind of thinking puts unwarranted stress on our lives and relationships. Protect your head and heart from unhealthy envy – it’s time to stop comparing your relationship to others once and for all – here’s how.
Read more: How To Break The Cycle Of Relationship Burnout
How To Stop Comparing Your Relationship To Others
Don’t Get Caught Up In Someone Else’s Story
What we put out on social media is never the whole story, so why would we assume that that’s any different for other people. We’re often bombarded with pictures of couples going on romantic dates, kissing at sunset or showering each other with lavish gifts to celebrate an anniversary, but we need to remember that these are just the highlights. It’s very rare that someone will post about an argument they had with their partner, a boring Saturday night at home or the fact that their anniversary dinner gave them food poisoning, but that doesn’t mean these things don’t happen. We will never know anyone’s full story, at least not through a screen, so comparing your life with anyone else’s is never going to do you any good. This holds for other aspects of your life too, including friends, vacations, jobs and weekend plans.
Identify Specific Triggers
Even if we are already aware that what people post on their feed is far from reality, stoping yourself from comparing your life and relationship to others is much easier said than done. If you’re struggling to stop, spend some time to determine what you are most sensitive to and what affects your mood the most. Is it when you scroll though your Instagram feed, or every time you watch a romanic movie? Perhaps it’s when you get together with a specific group of friends who like to brag about how amazingly their relationships are going. Note down what triggers negative feelings and who you tend to compare yourself to. Awareness is key to avoiding this pattern and behaviour, and might help you get to the core of why you are comparing your life to others.
Read more: 5 Ways To Stop Repeating Relationship Patterns
Comparing The Worst Of Yourself To The Best Of Others
One thing we’re not often aware of, but can be most detrimental, is that we tend to look at other people’s successes through the lens of our weaknesses. This means we’ll compare what we see as the best about someone else to our deepest insecurities. To make matters worse, we’re always so much tougher on ourselves than we are on others. Our inner critic can often leave us feeling not enough, discouraged and helpless. This is why it’s so important for us to be aware of this negative inner voice and make an effort to be kinder to ourselves. The best cure, in my opinion, is self-care and compassion, and this is something you can work on through journalling, mediation and coaching. I also recommend reading Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection, which teaches you to to embrace your imperfections and to recognise that you are enough.
Turn Envy Into Action
Say you’ve blocked the accounts that have triggered you in the past and are taking a break from that group of friends that always leave you feeling down on life. You may still be affected by a couple holding hands on the street or be seated next to two people getting cosy at the cinema. That is out of your control. You may just be home alone, longing for a relationship or craving some quality time with your partner – these are things you can control. Instead of getting down about it, use it as inspiration to take action. Envious of someone’s staycation? Plan a stay with your friend or partner. Frustrated that you and your partner are sitting on the couch again on a Friday night? Book a table at your favourite restaurant. Lusting for more passion in the bedroom but not sure how to go about it? You and your lover can take this quick quiz to help you discover each other’s erotic language and pathways to deeper intimacy.
Trust Your Own Path
Ultimately, comparing yourself to others will only disrupt your peace of mind. Try your best to divert your gaze from the social media posts that are less than inspiring or encouraging, and focus less on what everyone else has and more on what you do have that makes you happy. If you’re currently looking for a partner, then get out there and meet people. If you seek deeper love, passion and connection in your current relationship, bring this up with your partner and work together to see how you can fulfil each other’s needs.
Make sure to be honest with yourself about your wants and needs. Often, we find ourselves making comparisons because we care about what other people think, or see something we want (even though we might not have known we wanted it before seeing it). Take a step back and reassess. Remember, not a single soul is exactly like you and, as such, no relationship is the same. This is perhaps my best tip to end comparisons to others because it’s the truth. It just doesn’t make sense to compare apples to oranges. We’re all different and move at different paces, with different purposes.
Images via Getty images using illustrations by SiberianArt, Alisa Zahoruiko, Angelina Bambina and artbesouro.