A Definition of Overly Competitive Relationship

Overly Competitive Relationship” type refers to a partnership in which one or both individuals consistently engage in competition, striving to outdo or surpass the other in various aspects of life. Instead of fostering mutual support and collaboration, the relationship becomes a constant battleground of proving oneself. This competitive spirit can span a range of areas, from career achievements to personal interests or even in mundane daily tasks.

While a healthy dose of competition can sometimes spur growth, when it dominates the relationship’s dynamic, it can erode feelings of mutual respect and understanding. In such relationships, there’s often a lack of contentment and peace, as every accomplishment gets viewed through the lens of rivalry. Over time, this can lead to resentment, a lack of mutual appreciation, and diminished emotional intimacy, as partners feel they are more adversaries than allies.

(This article is part of the series: Unhealthy Relationship Patterns: Categorizing the 21 types)

The Perspective of Partners

Partner Acting as Challenger:

  • Perception: Views the relationship as an arena where they must constantly prove their worth. Believes that their value in the relationship is tied to their ability to outperform their partner.
  • Emotions: Feels a persistent drive to be one step ahead, leading to a mix of exhilaration and stress. Experiences satisfaction when outdoing their partner but also feels threatened or insecure when they perceive themselves as falling behind.
  • Behaviors: Regularly turns shared activities or decisions into competitions. Might downplay Partner B’s achievements or overemphasize their own successes.
  • Rationalizations: Believes that competition keeps the relationship exciting and dynamic. Thinks that this competitive spirit pushes both of them to be better, both individually and as a couple.

Partner in Role of Contender:

  • Perception: Also sees the relationship as a competitive field, feeling the need to match or surpass their partner’s achievements. Believes that to maintain respect and balance in the relationship, they must not be outdone by their partner.
  • Emotions: Feels a constant pressure to keep up, leading to feelings of anxiety and determination. Experiences a sense of accomplishment when “winning” but also disappointment or inadequacy when “losing.”
  • Behaviors: Engages in competitions, often rising to the challenges set by their partner. May become secretive about certain achievements to strategize a “reveal” or to avoid immediate competition.
  • Rationalizations: Considers the competitive nature of their relationship as a unique bond they share. Believes that, through this competition, they are building a stronger, more resilient partnership.