How To Avoid Comparisons In Your Relationship

Dayana Sabatin

“All they do is spend time together. All you do is work; I feel like you’ve stopped prioritizing me.”

I was angry. My partner had been working nonstop for weeks, and despite us living together, I felt like I barely ever got a chance to see him.

If he wasn’t at his computer, he was with clients. If he weren’t with clients, he’d be on his phone — working. It felt like he was prioritizing everything and everyone but me.

I always knew my partner was a workaholic, and I honestly didn’t mind. I loved that he had a passion for his work. The problem was that every night, I’d finish my work for the day, get on the couch, turn on the TV, and scroll through social media.

I saw couples doing everything I wanted to do. Epic date nights, traveling to remote areas together, taking cute couple photos, meanwhile, I couldn’t even get my partner to look at the camera long enough because work was calling his name.

I know that social media is a highlight reel, and no relationship is perfect, but it was really starting to feel like everyone else had it together but us.

Nobody talks about the bad stuff on social media.

Approximately a year ago, my best friend went to Philadelphia with her boyfriend to visit his parents. I was envious because I don’t have a good relationship with my partner’s parents, and when I saw her photos from the trip, she told me they had a great time together.

Flash forward to a few weeks ago, the truth came out. She told me that she and her boyfriend had broken up because he was emotionally and verbally abusive towards her. He had been throughout the entire course of their relationship.

“Why didn’t you tell me any of this?” I demanded, to which she responded with, “I didn’t want to share the bad parts of our relationship. Everything looked so good from the outside; I just hoped somehow it would trickle in.”

Nobody talks about the bad stuff on social media. Everybody paints the perfect and idyllic image of themselves living the life of their dreams. Meanwhile, they’re suffering on the inside.

You never really know what someone else is going through, and wishing for what others have will only put you in a negative mindset. Something I started doing to help me is unfollowing people (and couples) that I constantly found myself comparing my life and relationship to.

I left only the people that inspire me and my family members. At the end of the day, taking a social media break will benefit not only you but also your relationship. The time away from gawking at other people’s relationships will help you take a step back and address what needs to be addressed in your own relationship.

Take the time to communicate your needs.

I’m not the type of person to bottle things up, but out of guilt, I decided to bottle up the fact that I was angry at my partner for not prioritizing me.

I didn’t want him to think I was selfish, so I didn’t say anything for a long time. Whenever the weekend would come along, I’d ask him what his plans were in hopes of him saying, “whatever you want them to be,” or something along those corny lines. Instead, he would give me a trilogy of work-related things that he had to complete before Monday.

Communicating my needs has never been something I’ve done before — in any relationship. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I just never wanted to be the type of woman to ask for things. I didn’t want to come off needy.

It’s 100% stupid because we should always advocate for our wants and needs. Trust me; I wish I could take it all back.

However, I held everything in until one day, boom.

I was like a tornado, a tsunami, and a wildfire that couldn’t be put out. I spilled every frustration I ever had, every word I wanted to say but held back out of fear was pouring out of me, and I didn’t know how to stop any of it.

My partner simply looked at me and said, “why didn’t you tell me you felt this way?”

People aren’t mind-readers, and I’ve found that most men are simply air-headed (no offense) when it comes to certain things. My partner told me that he thought I was perfectly okay watching my favorite TV show (Sex & The City) at night with a glass of wine while he worked away.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with that because he was right; I was enjoying myself. The point is that while he was doing his thing, I was boiling with rage. Instead of fuming, I simply should have communicated that I wanted him to make an effort to put work down and hang out with me.

Sometimes, it’s really as simple as speaking up.

Identify the positives in your relationship.

Have you ever got so lost in comparison that you forget how good you have it? I used to have a friend that I was insanely jealous of. She had the perfect body, ultra-slim with great breasts. I loathed her ability to eat like a maniac without gaining an ounce of fat.

Every time I would go to the gym, I would think about her. I’d daydream of how happy I’d be if I had her physique. I imagined the obscene amounts of pizza I’d consume if I had her metabolism.

I later found out that not only was she on several different fat burners that were extremely harmful to her health, but she also had breast implants, which, in my defense, looked 100% natural. There’s nothing wrong with implants; the problem was she said they were real.

I’ve put myself in the same situation with my partner. I’d constantly think about how good other couples had it; one particular couple that we both know, seems to live the perfect life. They’re never apart, she works from home, and he’s an actor, so he too stays home. They’re always happy, hosting little parties at their house and having game nights around the clock.

After they broke up, she admitted that she hated being alone with him, which was why they would always invite people over. They felt uncomfortable both in their own solitude and together.

I started analyzing my own relationship. While it’s true that my partner works a lot, we still love spending time with one another, and we’re perfectly capable of being alone, although neither one of us prefer it because we’d rather be in each other’s company.

I also started changing my mindset about my partner’s work habits because, at the end of the day, he works hard with the intention of us getting married and having a family one day. Me being frustrated with him not spending time with me before bed seemed silly after that.

Take a step back from your relationship. Are you criticizing based on logic? Or emotion? Are you comparing your relationship to a successful one? Or what you’re seeing based on social media?

Instead of trying to satisfy society’s or even social media’s standard of what a relationship should look like, focus on what you and your partner want your relationship to look like. Identify the positives in your relationship, communicate your needs with the goal of coming up with resolutions.

Figure out new ways to please one another, rather than put each other down. Learn to be constructive rather than destructive.

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Santa Monica, CA

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