How Competitiveness Sucks Joy From Relationships

How Competitiveness Sucks Joy From Relationships

When we think about the word competitive or describe someone as competitive in nature, I doubt that the first thing you think of is how this can be a red flag in regards to relationships. However, it is quite common for me to have couples coming to see me with complaints about their partner ruining what they hoped would be a relaxed and joyous time together because of their competitive nature.

I see competitiveness simply as a branch of a bigger issue of perfectionism. The competitive person has a strong underlying fear of being wrong or making a mistake.

Not all competitive individuals are perfectionists. I am speaking of the extreme cases in which they devalue themselves as a person based on their score, placement, rank, likes, etc.

These individuals fall under Type 1 on the Enneagram. Often they thrive in their careers but fail in their relationships. As with most of my couples, the problem lies within the individual themselves. In other words, it doesn’t need to be a couples’ session. When someone is a perfectionist they are improvement-oriented, critical, and self-judging of themselves but unfortunately, of others as well.

The most recent example I can think of was that of a man complaining that his wife is not spending enough time with him. He spoke of how he wanted to have more shared experiences with her. When we began discussing what this might look like to him, he described golfing with his wife. However, upon further explanation, it was not golfing for the purpose of walking, talking, and connecting while practising their game, it was about improving their score. When she didn’t accept his seriousness and critical comments about her effort, skill, etc. he criticized her for ruining his time on the course. Another example was when they were playing a board game with friends. His serious competitive nature took over the game and took away any lightheartedness of the moment. His incessant need to win made the evening uncomfortable for everyone.

I asked him to practise the art of active listening. I insisted that he get curious with his wife in terms of what connection looks like to her. I also suggested that when planning time together, they choose experiences where there is nothing to compete with, it is simply just being with one another. I worked with him to understand where the fear of failure first came about, but most importantly, why is he holding on to this fear? How is fear serving him in his relationships? How does his level of competitiveness and perfectionism affect his children, colleagues, and neighbours? As his wife and I worked closely together, we practised the art of staying aligned to her core values and not acting submissively to his demands. She realized that she needed to challenge her own unhealthy thought patterns to not be distraught when her partner becomes insensitive and critical toward her needs and desires.

If you can relate to the above scenarios in any way, understand this is a real problem, and it shouldn’t be approached lightly. Without the correct course of action, the situation will not resolve on its own. 

When Your Partner Craves a Substance More Than He Craves You

When Your Partner Craves a Substance More Than He Craves You

If you are someone who has been in a committed relationship in which your partner is struggling with substance abuse or misuse, you will certainly relate to the words on this page. No one wants to compete for attention with a drug or behaviour, whether it be cocaine, alcohol, work, pessimism, or gambling. It is a very lonely place to find yourself.

Everyone has a different story as to why they started to take on an unhealthy habit. For some it might be trauma, others peer pressure, while for others it can be innocently beginning a to just feel what it was like, but after years of partaking realized that their own body’s physiology has changed, and the craving is now controlling them. They have normalized disconnecting from their body.

Difficult conversations need to happen between the couple. For the partner that chooses the substance over family and friendships, it is a choice of whether they are ‘interested’ in breaking the cycle of addiction, or whether they deeply want to change. I have a lot of individuals coming to me that are interested in quitting, but very few who are committed. I can reflect back to how I helped a woman break free from a relationship where her partner chose a drug over her.

I explained that she did not need to feel embarrassed, guilty, or ashamed of her decision to step away from the relationship. The solution lies in looking inside herself. What sort of person is she aligned to becoming? When asked this question, she realized that her values aligned with family life, spending time with the children, and building a future together that would support one another as they work towards a shared vision of what their life might look like once the children have left the family home, and retired from their respective careers. As clarity and light penetrated her loneliness, she didn’t approach him with blame and criticism as she once did. Instead, she used loving words to communicate that she decided to honour herself and her needs, and therefore took responsibility towards herself and left the marriage. Every woman’s decision to remain in a marriage is based on many variables and must be treated case by case. However, it all starts with self-honour and then practising this skill set daily to build a new thought pattern that reflected her values.

I hope that in the process of sharing my experiences as a coach might shed light on what your next steps may be. You are welcome to contact me if a similar transformational journey is something you crave.