Is comparing your relationship (to other people's) healthy?

When couples come in and see me on a daily basis I give them practical strategies to break old patterns and create new habits. Over time, they start to see changes and their happiness increases. As they do this, they often begin to compare their new relationship with others. This can be a re-assuring and encouraging experience - one that makes them feel good about where they are in their relationship, or compels them to keep going. In this situation, comparing your relationship with others can be healthy.

However, in general I would say that it's best not to compare your new relationship with others around you. This will usually only bring you anxiety, insecurity, worry, and often lead to more arguments and tension. The reason why I suggest you keep away from this temptation is because you don't have all the facts. You might think that your current relationship is better or worse than someone else's, but you don't know the real story. All you see is how they appear in public - not behind closed doors. You may assume that because you don't see them argue, they must have a better relationship than you do. Wrong. They might fight like cats and dogs - but you never see it. Another reason why you don't want to compare your relationship with others is because not everyone tells the truth. A couple might tell you that everything's amazing - when they're actually really thinking about breaking up! As well, everyone has experienced a different upbringing that shapes the way they are in relationships. This means your relationship is going to be very different from all of those around you. You'll have been exposed to different role models, childhood events, communication styles and levels of affection and intimacy that makes social comparison extremely difficult. Finally, you'll all have different relationship skills and levels of emotional IQ. This will see you all act very differently when it comes to how you are with your partner. Some will find talking easy - others won't. Some will love to be affectionate and intimate - others will be more standoffish. Some will want to commit quickly - others will take their time. The moral of the story here is: don't compare your relationship with others. Instead, focus on increasing your happiness with your partner and becoming a better team when you're together. Let the rest take care of itself.

John Aiken, RSVP dating and relationship expert, as seen on the hit show Married At First Sight, and on Ch 9’s Today show, Today Extra and A Current Affair. He is a best-selling author, regularly appears on radio and in magazines, runs a private practice in Sydney, and is a sought after speaker. (

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