It took me a while, but I finally got to the point where I just couldn’t take it anymore. It wore me out. It greatly stressed Jarrod and put a strain on our relationship. Rather than building our relationship on a solid foundation, it was built crumbling through the thoughts I allowed to consume me. I called it quits, on comparison.
To conclude this months topic on relationships, I want to cover the dangers in comparison. While there’s lots to cover in relationships, I wanted to target this topic specifically. I believe there are many of us that struggle with this and are either aware or unaware that we do. Comparison is not just damaging, but it is dangerous. No matter the relationship, it can never uplift. Rather it tears down and destroys both you and your significant other. We compare ourselves with others in a number of ways. We compare how we look, what we have and we compare who we are.
In dating relationships, comparison is similar. We compare how our relationship looks to those we deem as perfect. We compare what others give and do in their relationship compared to what our significant other gives and does. Lastly, we compare who our significant other is to those we’ve placed on the pedestal of perfection and judge whether they measure up.
If there’s anything you need to know, it’s this. No one is perfect. Absolutely no one. Besides Jesus who lived on earth, that is. With that, there is absolutely no such thing as a “perfect relationship.” Instagram shows the cookie cutter version of who we are. It shows the highlight and the glorified moments we live for. It doesn’t show the bad and ugly.
When Jarrod and I first started dating, I had a bad habit of comparing our relationship with friends, acquaintances and influencers who I thought had the picture perfect relationship. If I saw someone posted about their girlfriend, I’d mention that to Jarrod. If I saw a friends boyfriend bought them a charm, I’d mention that to Jarrod. If an influencer post that their significant other wrote them a song, then I’d mention that to Jarrod and by golly expect him to do the same for me. I was so focused on what others were doing that I failed to see the man that was endlessly in pursuit doing whatever it takes to make me happy.
If you are comparing your relationship with someone else’s, you first need to realize that there is an underlying issue of insecurity stemmed from poor self-esteem and self-worth. We compare because we lack the confidence in self and lack the ability to see good in oneself and in those around us. People who have low self-esteem never can see good in self and others. Rather, they always seem to find a fault. Here me out, there’s nothing wrong with setting high standards, but not to the extent that it tears down self and those we claim we love. Standards and expectations are not the same as comparison. We’ll talk about those some other time.
Jarrod called out on my insecurities pretty quickly in our relationship. I constantly compared who we were as a couple with those who I thought were in perfect dating relationships. I thought we had to be perfect because perfection is what was advertised on all social media platforms. So when we weren’t perfect, I thought we were failing at the whole “relationship thing.” If everyone else was attending an event, then that means we had to be there. If other couples dressed a certain way, then we had to do likewise otherwise, we wouldn’t be “looking” the part. If other couples got each other specific gifts, then we had to do the same in order to show we loved each other just as every other perfect couple marketed their love.
Let me tell you, no relationship is perfect! While there are glorified moments we live for, reality is, relationships are messy. They are fun, rewarding and full of hope, but also includes messy moments that require patients, mercy, compassion, forgiveness and unconditional love. Jarrod showed me just that when I battled with comparison. I wanted to perfect. He loved me through it by pointing it out and addressing the root cause of comparison. And we prayed. We prayed for healing in my heart and his.
So why do you compare? For you, it may be a childhood trauma. It may be feeling you are of no worth because you were told that all your life. It may be due to being bullied. If you’re like me, it may be because you are the epitome of perfectionism who thrives in all things “Type A.” Want to know a secret on the whole type A, perfectionism concept? That is pride. I’d dare to say comparison is a form of pride likewise. It also has jealousy and envy rapped right in it. No one likes to admit these things, but the truth of the matter is the reason so many of us try our best to appear to be perfect is because we are too prideful to let others see our flaws. We’ve become too consumed by what others may think and say that we can’t even admit to ourselves we need help. Rather, we point out everyone else’s flaws in hopes that if our surroundings change and mimics perfection then we are perfect.
I called it quits on comparison. It really wasn’t helping me nor my relationship. I was trying to make Jarrod into an godlike figure. That for one can never be done. If I truly love someone, then I will pursue them. In areas where there is need for work and improvement, then we work towards that, not because someone else said so or because others are doing it, rather because we truly want to become a better version of ourself.
If you are comparing your relationship with someone else’s one, STOP! Sweet friend, you are doing damage. A lot of times if we just think about it, the person that needs to change is not the one we are trying to change, it’s ourself. The work begins in us first. I had to realize that about myself. And the work required, is targeting the need to be perfect.
If you are comparing your relationship with someone else’s one, QUIT! Make an effort to admit where you went wrong and quit the comparison game. If there’s an area in your relationship you believe needs improvement, mention that, not with accusation, jealousy and envy, rather with hope towards growth.
So how to you stop and quit comparison? A practical step is watching our tongues. We compare through our lips. We verbalize what others are doing which puts down and dismisses the efforts made by our significant other. To the one battling comparison, we are saying, “Do better!” To the one receiving the brunt of comparison, they are hearing “You are not good enough and never will be.” That’s just not okay.
Another step to take that is necessary in quitting the comparison game is addressing the root cause of comparison. Do some soul searching for yourself. Why is nothing ever done good enough? Why do you want the picture perfect image? Why do you keep comparing? After you’ve figured out your why make it your priority to shift your why of negativity towards gratitude. Here’s what the Bible says about this in Philippians 2:3-4,
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
We compare because we secretly are envious and jealous. Because we are prideful. The opposite of these is humility. I’m not perfect and you’re not perfect. Those of us who claim perfection and compare in order to be the most perfect, we need a humbling of the heart. Let’s quit expecting others to be something they are not. Rather, let’s uplift those who we love and motivate them to be the best version of themselves. Our interest should shift from selfishness to selflessness. If you truly love someone, your goal should be to do just that. The way we love is more than action. A lot of that is found in the words be speak to them and about them. I will conclude with this, remember, before you go wanting to change someone else, try starting the change in you.
How can you begin breaking the cycle of comparison? What areas require work? Work on that, friend! You got this.