young couple playing cards together

—Karime C., University of California Los Angeles

Some competition in a relationship can be positive and fun. However, since you’re asking about it, it seems that it might be problematic for you. What we don’t want in relationships is for people to feel like there is a “winner” and a “loser,” as that can shift power unequally. Seeing a partner as a rival rather than a teammate can be an issue too—it can cause partners to be less supportive of each other and to not celebrate each other’s successes.

However, having both partners be good at different things can enhance the relationship, and appreciating each other’s strengths can be healthy and helpful.

So what are some ways to work on feelings of competition in a relationship?

  1. Acknowledge things that go well for your partner and try to feel truly happy for their accomplishments.
  2. Find ways that you can both “win” or allow each other to “win” at something that is meaningful to both of you. That’s not to say one person should always let the other person “win” to keep harmony. If that is the case, then the relationship may not be a healthy one. Instead, think of it as a compromise of what you’re OK with and what you’re not OK with.
  3. Communicate what your limits are and what you’re willing to give in on.