It’s not a sport, it’s a relationship.

I’ve never considered myself to be a competitive person. Any sport I played as a kid was for the purpose of spending time with friends and staying active — not so much to win. 

However, I’ve found someone that brings out the competitive side of me and it’s not what I was expecting: it’s my boyfriend. 

A little competition between you and your partner isn’t always a bad thing — you should always push each other to be better versions of yourself. But when it turns to unhealthy competition that could send your relationship in the wrong direction.

Since beginning my relationship with my boyfriend over a year and a half ago, I’ve noticed that I have this desire to be better than him. I want to have more money, be fit, and be more content. 

Don’t get me wrong, I want him to succeed. But I let insecurities get in the way and convince myself that it’s not possible for both of us to accomplish our goals. 

Unfortunately, he does the same thing. And out of nowhere, the competition between each other begins. Who will be the winner?

The truth is, with an overly competitive relationship, neither partner wins. You replace support with a battle against the one we love.

It’s hard to say where this competition stems from and why it feels so suffocating. Is it because I’m afraid his achievements will take the focus off of me? Could it be that I know I’ll feel worthy enough for him if I’m doing my best? 

Whatever the reason, I’m starting to reach my breaking point and I think he is too. It takes a lot of energy to push yourself to be better than someone you love, especially when you know every move they make. 

I’ll admit that I’m exhausted. And I feel mature enough in my relationship now to figure out how to combat these competitive feelings. 

I don’t want to feel like my partner’s successes diminish my own. After all, if I’m really striving for the future we talk about together, his victories are my victories, right?

It may not be easy to make these changes but I believe it’s possible. By recognizing that my boyfriend’s happiness influences the state of our relationship, I can better understand the importance of selflessness and encouragement. 

If you relate to any of what I’ve said, I hope it helps to know that you’re not alone. There is a way to free yourself from this cycle and manifest the positive side — that you are continually bettering the woman you are today. 

Here are some ways to stop unhealthy competition in your relationship and create an authentically cheerful response to your partner’s accomplishments. 

1. Approach every situation with love in your heart. 

It can be challenging to see the big picture and not focus on how something makes you feel in the moment. That’s why it’s important to stay grounded and remind yourself of the love you have for your partner. 

If it were your mom or best friend sharing good news about a new job offer, how would you react? I’m sure you would be proud of them and recognize what a great opportunity this will be. 

When you remember how much you love your significant other, you can re-center the competition to just being happy for them. If you truly love this person, you want them to get everything that will bring them joy. 

2. Stop comparing your life trajectories. 

Even though there are probably a lot of similarities between you and your partner, you’re sure to have some differences. For instance, their home life might be different than yours and you most likely have different career goals. 

That being said, it’s not fair to either one of you to compare what you both have. They have unique experiences and aspirations, just like you. What works for them might not work for you and vice versa. 

When you realize that it’s okay for them to make different decisions than you would, you can allow for support and understanding. For once, don’t put yourself in their shoes and acknowledge that they are living a different life than you. 

3. Focus on your own achievements and share them with your partner. 

It’s obvious that when you become less concerned with what your partner’s doing, you can feel fulfilled in what you’re doing. Take every chance you get to be proud of your accomplishments — they count just as much as your partner’s. 

In addition, by sharing what we accomplish with our partner, we can hear their support and be motivated to do the same. For example, if you reach a personal record in running, share it with your partner. You will appreciate their feedback and want to give them the same gratification.

4. Remember that your partner’s accomplishments are your own. 

I’m not saying to take credit for the good things your partner achieves, but maybe, just maybe, you played a role in their success. Did you encourage them to try something new? How did you support them along the way?

By not separating their accomplishments from your own, it can feel like you’re a real team. If they succeed, so do you. When you’re going through the ups and downs together, both people are significant in reaching goals. 

5. Don’t assume your partner’s successes will overshadow you. 

Sometimes it’s scary to think that we’re not always the main focus in our partner’s life. But the truth is, that’s the healthy balance. Just because your partner is anchoring other areas of their life doesn’t mean they will forget about you. 

Remember that you are special and if they love you, nothing will overshadow the relationship you’ve built. Avoiding selfish behavior will bring you one step closer to accepting that competition between you and your partner is purely a waste of time.