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When it comes to relationships, none are alike. Each one moves at a different speed, and what feels comfortable for one couple may not be right for another. But even so, it’s easy to look at other people’s relationships and wonder why yours isn’t progressing at the same pace. Maybe your friends are moving into a luxurious apartment together or your coworker won’t stop telling her amazing proposal story. We get it. Feelings of comparison are normal for everyone from time to time. What makes the difference is how you respond to them.
How can you do that?
Responding in healthy ways often starts with asking yourself some honest questions. Questions help you check in with yourself when you’re feeling jealous or comparing your relationship to another’s. Find yourself here? Check out these questions to get you started:
What areas in our relationship are growing well?
Focusing on the areas you’re happy with right now is a great place to start when you’re feeling less than satisfied. Remember what you’re thankful for and share this with your partner. Then, ask them the same question. Their answer might surprise you!
Which areas in our relationship do we need to work on?
Find a time when you can discuss this together. Where would you like things to improve? Keep this focused on things like communication or appreciation, rather than the material items or goals you want right now. Why is this important? Because even if you want the engagement ring or the apartment together, your relationship won’t thrive with this next level of commitment unless you’re moving in the right direction to begin with. When you work together to strengthen your bond, you build deeper trust and connection that makes the way for greater commitment down the road.
What type of relationship are we experiencing right now?
Are you experiencing an interdependent relationship or a codependent one? Interdependent relationships are healthy relationships where both partners are securely attached. Interdependent means that both partners mutually depend upon each other for emotional needs. Both partners feel comfortable asking for what they need and both partners feel comfortable meeting the other person’s needs. Securely attached partners feel emotionally safe with each other and they trust that the other person will be there for them. Both partners are available, reliable. and emotionally engaged with the other person.
In contrast, partners in codependent relationships feel responsible for each other’s emotions and have a difficult time articulating their own. One or both partners find that their mood, emotions, and identity are defined by the other person. It’s really difficult to grow trust in this environment.
So, when you find yourself comparing your relationship to others and feel unable to express these emotions to your partner in a healthy way, it may be because one or all of those three components—availability, reliability, or engagement—is missing.
Assess whether or not you’re growing in each of these areas. Liz Colizza, MAC, LPC, NCC, Head Therapist at Lasting, the nation’s no. 1 relationship counseling app, offers a simple checklist to run through:
- Do you feel that you’re both appropriately available to each other throughout your day and week?
- Do you feel that you’re both appropriately reliable to each other?
- Do you feel that you are both appropriately emotionally engaged with each other, giving each other your full attention?
- Do you feel emotionally safe with your partner?
- Do you feel that you are both growing in your dependence upon each other?
- Do you feel that you both practice vulnerability with each other?
- Do you feel comfortable asking for what you need?
If your answer to any of these is “No,” try to address it with your partner and talk about how you can grow in this area. If that feels difficult or uncomfortable, speaking with a therapist is a great way to involve a third party and ensure both partners feel heard. Lasting is an effective, low-cost option for this and will give you practical tools for addressing your needs.
Remember, feelings of comparison are totally normal. Everyone can work on the ways these emotions affect them. If you’re experiencing these feelings, let them drive you closer to your partner rather than away from them.
When you’re growing in the direction of a secure, interdependent relationship, you and your partner will be able to move toward the bigger commitment questions together. You’ll feel comfortable talking about next steps with each other and what it means for each of you. You’ll be able to work through your differences and better understand each other’s perspectives. You will also feel comfortable expressing what you need when you need it…like that ring or apartment.
Ultimately, by asking yourselves these questions, you’ll grow closer together, and in the end, it’s your strong bond that others will envy.
Looking for more relationship advice? Take a look at the 7 questions you should ask yourself before you tie the knot.