The Upside and Downside of
Comparing Relationships


“It is absolutely normal” to compare your relationship to someone else’s, according to Dr Brian Doss of the University of Miami. He goes on to add that “It’s hard to know what a relationship ‘should’ or ‘ideally’ looks like, so we use our previous relationships, relationships of our friends, and our parents’ relationship as important benchmarks for our current relationship.” Pattemore suggests that “In some instances, looking at other couples can help you determine the direction you’d like your relationship to take”.


While comparisons can be beneficial, there can also be a downside if negative thinking is frequent. When couples compare their relationship or partner to others, it can often lead to dissatisfaction, resentment, and hopelessness in both partners,” explains Megan Haase, a mental health counsellor. Frequent negative comparisons can also create, sadness, low self-esteem, and demoralization. Social media provides numerous comparison-making opportunities, which can impact mental well-being (Frampton & Fox) and lead to unhappiness about relationships. What we see on social media is a very limited view of what others might be going through.

5 Things to remember when comparing relationships

  1. We need to remember that each person and relationship is unique.
  2. We often compare our relationship to others when we are struggling.
  3. It is ok to struggle in relationships – relationships involve imperfect people learning to navigate life together. (Abuse is not ok.)
  4. We can plan for our relationship to bring fulfilment by focusing on positives and spending quality time together.
  5. If you think comparisons arise because there is abuse, or you feel your relationship is missing something, consider seeking outside help.

If you think it would be helpful to talk to someone about your relationship, or for ideas to support a fulfilling relationship, please contact me, Jenny, on my contact page.

For 24/7 support please phone/text 1737 (Need to Talk).

For 9.00am to 11.00pm support for abuse please contact the Family Violence Information Line 0800456450.

For emergency support, please phone 111.

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