Can I Be Compatible With My Boyfriend If We Are Competitive?

Can I Be Compatible With My Boyfriend If We Are Competitive?

My boyfriend and I are both very intelligent, driven, and competitive people. Just like you talk about the negatives to each positive, our competitive attributes definitely have a negative side for us. Because we are both so competitive, we often end up competing with each other. We have been together since college, and in college it felt like there was a constant unspoken competition between us for grades, sports success, and general life success. Who would become an All-American athlete? Who had the best social standing and most friends? Who would get top honors in their degree? Who would get their job faster?

Post-college, the competition continued. Who would get the promotion first? Who was making the most money? Who has the biggest social network and is the best at meeting new people?

While the competition often keeps us at our best, it can also lead to strife. For example, sometimes I feel I am not as supportive of his success as I should be, because I secretly want to be better than him. I try to be as supportive as possible and tell him that I believe in him and that he can do great things, but when I take a closer look at how I feel, I see him as a threat. And sometimes, he notes that I’m not being entirely genuine, just like I note that he’s not exactly wishing me “congrats” for my latest success. It’s hard to swallow the fact that one of us might not be as smart, funny, talented, or athletic as the other. I also know that he, as a man, needs to feel valued and special for his accomplishments and successes, as he should.

How do we handle this? I love him dearly and I feel we are otherwise very compatible, but I’m not sure I should be with someone who I feel is always a threat to me, and I also want to be the supportive girlfriend he wants and needs. Is it possible for two highly competitive individuals to be happy together? –Julie

Thank you for your thought-provoking question. And yes, it is possible for two highly competitive individuals to be happy together.

Yes, it is possible for two highly competitive individuals to be happy together. It just may not be possible for you and your boyfriend.

It just may not be possible for you and your boyfriend.

I’m not worried about assigning blame – after all, I haven’t heard his side of the story – but here are a few lines I pulled from your question:

  • I secretly want to be better than him.
  • I see him as a threat
  • It’s hard to swallow the fact that one of us might not be as smart, funny, talented, or athletic as the other.

Without going any further, Julie: would YOU want to be in a relationship with that person?

She doesn’t sound very mature, supportive or evolved, does she?

I’m not ragging on you, as much as commending you for your openness. We ALL think thoughts that don’t make us look good and the first step is taking responsibility for those thoughts.

As I see it, you have essentially two choices (and, by the way, they are the same two choices that you have in most situations):

You can grow. You can realize that there’s no value in being “better” than your partner, because you’re only as strong as the relationship itself. How well would my marriage work if I were always trying to prove to my wife that I was “better” than her? Not so well, huh?

Who makes more money? Who cares? Who has more friends? Who cares? Who runs faster? Really?

So, even though you’re trying to “win” the battle, you’re losing the war by hurting your own relationship. Your boyfriend isn’t a threat to you; he exists independently from you. His accomplishments are to be lauded, because they don’t take away from yours and there’s no point in keeping score. Literally, the ONLY way there should be a direct conflict is if you’re both applying to the same job. But who makes more money? Who cares? Who has more friends? Who cares? Who runs faster? Really? Please tell me about the marriage that is dependent upon Tough Mudder times for sustenance.

Growth involves serious change and maturity. The ability to step away and admit that all the things about which you’re competitive literally DON’T MATTER.

And if you’re reading those words and thinking, “Of COURSE they matter! I can’t let him think he’s smarter, funnier, or more athletic than I am!”, well, then, you’ve arrived at the other conclusion:

You can dump him and find a guy who is not competitive.

A guy who will get as excited for your accomplishments as if they’re his own.

A guy who removes his ego from the relationship because it only serves to diminish you as a couple.

A guy who knows there’s no “I” in team.

Who wouldn’t want to date that person?

The real question is whether you can BE that person, Julie. I’d highly suggest it.

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Comments:

  1. 31
    Tao System

    There shouldn’t be any reason for either of you to compete with each other, you are both highly skilled in different areas, so it’s completely unnecessary to think that one is better than the other. Accept each other and be grateful that you both a lot going for each other. Most couples are unhappy and don’t really have productive lives as much as others do. We live in a self-fish world and people don’t appreciate anything until it’s gone!

  2. 32
    Taylor Ray

    I understand where she is coming from. First off, I was a female college athlete as well. I am in the same boat, I am dating a Navy seal that was a collegiate athlete so you can only imagine the ego and competitive nature that is instilled in him. The first six months to a year of dating we butted heads constantly, like 2 bulls in a china pin. I would constantly doubt if it was worth dating someone so much like myself. Since I started playing sports at age 3 I have always had an extremely competitive nature. You could say it was more or less bred into me from day one. Therefore that can be carried onto friendships and relationships as well. I don’t think it so much more than being better then the person that you were with it’s just you’re so use to being “number one” in everything you do you strive to be the best. Losing was never an option, if your going to go whole heartedly in something whether it’s a game or job your end all verdict is winning. As a woman, naturally we are supposed to be submissive to our husbands so I have to keep in mind that it should be a turn on to see him better at things and to win. He’s a man let him be the man. It’s not my place to have the better job or to always be better at everything. You have to ask yourself what is the verdict? Be with a man that is not competitive doesn’t have any athletic background? you want somebody that can give you a run for your money to say the least if I was with a man that was opposite of me I would run him over because naturally I am a dominant competitive person therefore there wouldn’t be any passion within the relationship. I can say that sexually there is more passion between us than I’ve ever experienced with anyone else. Why? Because we give 100% within anything we do. honestly I wouldn’t be content with the opposite stereotype, I would run him over and easily get bored. Don’t get me wrong it is a tough challenge to find your place in a relationship such as this type. If you love this person unconditionally then you need to change to keep them in your life. Once you do that, your partner will naturally transition with you. In the end you’ll both be happier and start to grow into a passionate love life. It’s worked so far for me. Once I made the decision that I wanted to be a team player and be the bigger person things have been easier.

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