Comparing your partner with others is bad for your relationship

It is the key source of stress and conflict in people's relationships

Ians July 23, 2015
It is the key source of stress and conflict in people's relationships. PHOTO: FILE

Do you often compare your partner with someone else's when it comes to children's homework or household chores? Well, be careful as this may be detrimental to your relationship, shows research.

According to researchers from the University of Toronto, people do compare their partner to others with significant negative consequences for the relationship.

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Whether or not someone protects a partner from the negative implications of comparisons depends on the degree to which they view themselves and their partner as one unit.

This phenomenon has been dubbed "self-other overlap" by psychologists.

"People who are low in self-partner overlap have difficulty maintaining positive partner perceptions following threatening comparisons of their partner to others. This may be a key source of stress and conflict in people's relationships," said Sabrina Thai, psychology PhD candidate.

On the other hand, people who are high on 'self-other overlap' will attempt to protect their partner and minimise the threat by rating the trait or skill that they compared their partner on as less important.

Furthermore, these people are able to maintain positive views of their partner in spite of unfavourable comparisons.

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"They still see their partner as being close to their ideal partner, which has positive implications on their relationship," Thai said in a paper that appeared in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

By highlighting the benefits of high "self-partner overlap", this research may identify a possible future intervention technique.

"Perhaps temporarily boosting someone's perceptions of 'self-partner overlap' may help them cope with and overcome the negative outcomes of comparing their partner," the authors said.


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