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Kamis, 12 Agustus 2010

Romance advice: competition in relationship

We're all exposed to some form of competition from our earliest childhoods. We competed with our siblings for our parent's affections, we competed with our classmates for the teacher's attention, and we competed in sports or academic events. In our adolescence, we continued to compete for college scholarships or spots in an athletic team. We even competed for the attentions of members of the opposite sex.

This competitive spirit often serves a positive purpose- it keeps us motivated to improve ourselves by occasionally comparing our own skills against others. But sometimes competition brings on situations where we get so caught up in the pursuit of 'winning' that we lose sight of the benefits of NOT winning. This is one of the dangers couples face in romantic relationships.

It would be nice if we could completely switch off our competitive urges, but we can't. Two individuals meet, often under competitive circumstances, and a complicated cycle of ambition and compromise often begins. In a sense, the meeting itself is a result of competition. One or both partners took the initiative and successfully pursued someone who may have been seen as a 'prize catch' by others. Thus a romantic relationship already begins with a sense of achievement through competition.

Sometimes a competitive spirit can bring out better qualities in both partners. Each individual accomplishment promotes a positive sense of 'if she can do it, so can I'. Romantic partners can provide each other with a tangible example of what ambition and drive can do. Someone who tends to remain on the sidelines while others move forward may find the resolve to improve himself or herself. In the most positive sense of competition, demonstrating your own ambition might spur a romantic partner to break out of a slump and become more energized. The only caveat would be to realize when you're being constructively competitive and when you're being recklessly driven by ego. Romantic partners may appreciate each other's competitive natures, but one may begin to build up resentment if the other is constantly away for contests or career-boosting business trips.

Some couples find that competition left unchecked can lead to conflict. An issue that may be readily resolved with a little compromise may escalate to a full-blown battle instead. The idea of being proven wrong or having to settle for second place is not always a good thing for competitive personalities to consider. Winning the argument becomes more important than reconciling the facts which prompted it. Romantic couples who don't want to live in a 'fight or submit' atmosphere must learn to discuss problems non-competitively. There may indeed be one opinion closer to the truth than another, but it shouldn't be viewed as a win or lose option. Both sides might present their position with passion and authority, but ultimately compromises should rule the day.

Another difficult competition issue to face as a couple is career success. If the man is an auto mechanic and the woman is a legal secretary, they may not experience much in the way of career competition. He may harbor thoughts of becoming the manager of the shop or starting his own garage, but he is not competing against his wife or girlfriend vocationally. She might want to go back to school for more legal training or find a completely different occupation. Again, her career interests don't interfere with those of an auto mechanic. But let's examine another couple for a moment. He has always wanted to be a successful writer and she works as an assistant newspaper editor. Both are driven to become successful in an extremely competitive business. He sends out numerous manuscripts while she happens to meet a publisher at work.

In this scenario, an unhealthy competition can lead to a very serious conflict. The publisher may read her manuscript and offer her a contract, while his efforts come back with rejection slips. Both understand the competitive nature of the writing business, but she experiences the first real success. Her partner may find himself caught between two very human emotions- pride for his partner's accomplishment and jealousy that she received a 'lucky break'. The danger of competition becomes more obvious as time goes on. He may devote more of his time to improving his own craft, which would seem to be a positive outcome of his partner's success. But meanwhile, she's written a second successful book. The conflict begins anew. Whenever both partners are in the same competitive vocation, it is essential that they reach an understanding. The real 'competition' are those unseen faces trying to get the same contracts or accounts or clients, not one another. Remaining competitive in a business sense may benefit both of them, but they cannot remain competitive in a romantic sense and expect a long-term relationship to survive.

Another problem that some couples face involves the outcome of one partner's success. He might be offered a remarkable opportunity to work at the company's headquarters, but the office is located in California. She may have a satisfying career at a local hospital with the potential of becoming a supervisor. If she moved with him to California, she'd have to take a lesser position and begin with no seniority. If he remained in Maine with her, the job in California would be offered to someone else. Both partners have a solid case for remaining in place or moving away. Both achieved their career goals by being constructively competitive. But in order for one partner to reach the next stage in his or her career, the other must make a tremendous sacrifice. This is where competition between couples would not be helpful. The only resolution is finding a workable compromise in which both partners would feel they received proper respect. If they both remain competitive, then the 'losing' partner may build up tremendous feelings of resentment. They may have to decide the matter on the basis of real economics and the potential for employment. If his new job in California came with a significantly higher income, then she may have to consider taking a small step back in her own goals. He may have to consider keeping his old job so she can stay in competition for a supervisory position. Competitive couples might easily decide to go their separate ways over an issue like this, or attempt to maintain a very difficult long-distance relationship.

Competition in a romantic relationship can bring out the best in both partners, since each one sincerely wants to become the best he or she can be. Without some spirit of competition, relationships can quickly become boring and routine. Having passionate discussions about movies or politics or books can keep the couple moving forward in their relationship. It's only when winning becomes more important than the time spent together that competition can become a difficult thing to face.

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