Caring is Not Comparing

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Sometimes, comparisons happen before we even realize we are doing it. We are trained to compare products and sometimes this leaks into the realm of dating. After all, we humans do seem to relish the ever-haunting “what if” moments, always unsure as to whether we have made the right choice. However, comparisons in regards to our partner and other people will not lead to happiness for anyone. Apples and oranges, people, apples and oranges. Here are some reminders as to why this remains true and some hints to get rid of the urge to compare when it comes to love.

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Comparing Your Partner to Your Exes

This is, understandably, easy to do. They are your romantic partner, your ex was once your romantic partner, but this sort of comparison is a major no-no. Fact is, that your significant other is not your ex. They don’t look like your ex. They don’t sound like your ex. When they laugh, it’s not going to be the same jingle or even at the same volume or note. They won’t like the same movies, frequent the same places, think the violin is the coolest instrument known to planet earth, belch the ABCs (thankfully?), or even drink almond milk. They don’t mind leggings being worn as pants, think clowns are cute in an inexplicable sort of way, carry a book in their car just to say they are reading something, or even believe in mermaids.

Comparing them (even if you think it is “innocent” because they’ll “never know”) sets your mind up for continued comparisons down the road, putting your current significant other [unknowingly] in competition with your ex, or at least the memory of your ex.

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Comparing Your Partner to Your Parents

Sure, it is normal to wonder whether or not your parents will like your new SO. You want your parents to like them and for your significant other to like your parents, right? But to compare them? For shame. Your significant other is not meant to be like your parents because they have a different role in your life (uh, hopefully). They are a romantic and an emotional attachment that is made by choice. That’s right, your significant other is choosing to be in your life whereas your parents are bound to you by genetics, maternal instinct, extensive history, or some combination thereof. Your SO is not going to be just like your parents nor should you want them to be. If they are, Freud and you could have had some lengthy conversations back in the day.

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Maintaining Friends While Dating

Comparing Your Partner to Your Friends

It’s okay to note similar interests they have with your friends or even compatible personalities. What’s not okay is to expect your significant other to be just like your friends. Sure, your partner is your friend, but they are much more than that as well. You see your significant other’s good and bad days, all of their many sides, and you’ve rubbed all their edges the wrong way. Depending on how well you know certain friends, it is unlikely that you know all of these things about them, and especially not to the same extent. If you find yourself wishing that your significant other could be more like your level-headed and funny friend Jamie, remember that you only know Jamie in certain contexts and, therefore, only know so much about Jamie. It’s not fair to compare a 3-dimensional understanding of your significant other with a potentially 2-dimensional understanding of your friend. This is setting your relationship up for failure.

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Comparing Your Partner to a Stranger

Comparisons made between your significant other and the stranger across the room are likely limited to the physical (or your unfair hypotheticals). It is one thing to take note that the stranger across the room is attractive. It’s ridiculous to expect that someone is going to stop noticing things about other people just because they are in a relationship. That’s not how things work.

What is reasonable to expect is that your significant other is not in competition with the stranger across the room. What’s the difference? The difference is having the acknowledging thought of “That person is attractive” versus the thought “I wish my significant other was as attractive as that person.” That second thought process sets your significant other up as a disappointment in your mind and, no matter how small the initial let down was, more moments will likely add up to this pile until you are wondering what it would be like to go home with the stranger from across the room or even why you are with your significant other in the first place.

Before all of that happens, stop and remind yourself how well you know your significant other –past the exterior. You know your significant other’s strong points and their vulnerabilities. They have traits that make you laugh, make you proud, and maybe even ones that make you mildly embarrassed (in a “I’m still smiling right by your side sort of way”). You don’t know any of these things about the stranger across the room.

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Comparing Your Partner to the Person They Used to Be

Unless you are going to bask in pride and joy over how much your significant other has blossomed into the person they have always wanted to become, avoid comparing them to who they were back when you first met. The reality is that you didn’t know them in as much detail as you do now. Back then, they were the stranger across the room. You knew so little about them and, therefore, everything was new and wonderful and sparkly and pretty. They were representing themselves in the best light that they could, dressing up, brushing their hair, going on nice dates, and all the other dances of new relationship initiation. Now your significant other is, well, complicated. It is your job –no, it is your chosen opportunity –to love your significant other for who they are in this moment…and that means who they are in this moment regardless of who everyone else is or may be.

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#relationships #comparing #love

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