In the era of social media, reality shows, and hashtags people often feel as if they have to compete or keep up with what others are doing. Considering how prevalent these things are in society it should be no surprise that this spirit of competition has bombarded our relationship lives and now threaten the dating scene.
I’m all for being a serial dater, casting a broad net and picking a few promising prospects until you find the special one. But under no circumstances should your dating life seem like a reality show where you’re put through challenges, in direct competition with other people, or expected to go out of your way to win affection/be something you’re not.
We’ve made every part of a relationship a competition and we let the social media studio audience have an opinion via their comments on who’s winning.
Who makes the first move? Who should ask? Who goes for the first kiss? Who’s more interested? Who loves whom more? And we feel this need to constantly keep score and made up statistics as if any of this matters.
We’ve made the negotiation a competition. We now talk about and have to prove who’s a better catch by comparing what each brings to the table. You got some people so conceited that they think that they are the table. News flash: no one is. The table is neutral, we both put our attributes, skills, and contributions on the table to see what we can cook up or build when we combine those ingredients. When we start competing with each in this stage, what we are secretly measuring is who needs who more or who benefits more, rather than what we can achieve to gather.
If you’re competing against your mate, you should stay single.
Even in the rejection or break up stage, we compete to see who can be pettier, who can get the most severe gut punch in and one up the other. It’s utterly childish and unbecoming of grown-ups, but I know you have seen this before: A guy approaches a girl, she’s not interested, he gets offended and acts like she’s not all that. Now insults are being hurled back and forth for public consumption to see who can cut the other the deepest.
We even compete in the hypothetical aspects of a relationship: who pays, who sacrifices, who caters, who provide. Are you happy? We’re so busy worried about what celebrities and people we hardly know are doing in their relationships. We change our wants, needs and relationship dynamics to compete with others’ happiness when in actuality, we could be the complete opposite and still be three times as happy as they are.
We see what other people are doing and make their relationship our goals without even making goals for our own damn relationships. We pay attention to what vacations other couples are taking, how many pics they have together, how they proposed, how was the wedding, what they did for Valentine’s Day, birthdays, Christmas, New Year’s, Man Crush Monday, Woman Crush Wednesdays, and anniversaries, then compare it to what we’re doing. Then we decide if we wish to bash them or step our game up when in actuality, we may not be playing by the same rules or the same game.
Just like reality TV, social media is scripted and edited. People only show you what they want you to see and tell the compelling stories that they want you to know. It’s a waste of time to compete with false and incomplete narratives when you could be busy designing your own and minding your own. You’re trying to keep up with the Joneses when neither their last name nor yours is Jones. Your only competition is making your relationship better and stronger than it was the day before.
Written By: Johnny Brownlee II
Follow Johnny on Instagram: @slin_k_polymath