6 Unfortunate Signs Your Relationship Is Too Competitive To Last

No relationship can withstand a constant battle like this.

Last updated on May 03, 2024

competitive couple looking at each other Motortion Films / Shutterstock

Many people don't see themselves as the competitive type, but when it comes to relationships, irrational competitions can ultimately be quite destructive.

If you're constantly trying to keep up, save face, or stave off insecurity in your relationship, or if you find yourself looking down on your partner with a mean spirit or any other type of cutthroat dynamic, it might be time to assess the situation and work at changing it — or move on.


Because when you're competing with your partner, no matter what end of the dynamic you're in, it's sure to drive a wedge between you.

Here are 6 signs of a competitive relationship that won't last

1. You're not fully happy for your partner when something good happens to them

You may also resent them when they're happy, more generally. Whether we want to admit it or not, we all know what it's like to have felt this way, even if it's not with a romantic partner, and even if we squashed the thoughts down immediately.

Despite pushing those thoughts down, they still hide under the surface. And when you have a relationship with resentment, you and your partner suffer.


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It's hard to live in the world as we know it, with its endless stigma around lack of ambition, drive, or talent, without feeling we're not doing enough. Many of us live daily with self-applied pressure.

Although at the worst of times it can become difficult to feel anything but envy or irritation at someone else's success, being in a relationship means being supportive of your partner, becoming aware of when you're feeling competitive about their success, and then moving past it.


2. There's tension around who earns more money

Perhaps your partner is a man and happens to be stuck to the deeply gendered, antiquated notion that men should earn more than women. However, it doesn't matter if your partner is a man or a woman; arguments and resentment building due to one partner making more money is never a good sign.

Maybe you'd rather your partner not be such a go-getter so you can stop feeling like an underachiever who sleeps too late, eats too many carbs, and lives from paycheck to paycheck. Perhaps your self-esteem is beginning to suffer because of the pressure you place on yourself and your relationship to make more money.

But the thing is, it's not your job (or your partner's) to earn less or more than someone else just so they don't feel bad. It shouldn't matter that one partner makes less or more than the other; what matters is that you support each other.

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3. There's also tension around who accomplishes more

Ever been with someone who seems never to have doubted their purpose in life, while you flail about in confusion about what your next step might be? It can leave you feeling dysfunctional. But don't let it.

couple mad at each other Karolina Grabowska / Pexels

It's not in anyone's job description as a human to hold back one's great qualities and uniqueness, given that what the world needs now is more of that.


It can be a real challenge to separate out what you actually want to accomplish for yourself from what you feel you should accomplish because you're measuring yourself against an impossible standard: another person. But try.

In a relationship, if there's anger or tension about who does what in the home or outside of the home, remember that healthy partnerships don't involve "keeping score."

4. You get angry when your partner is better at something

Let's say you're a writer and your partner is a barista who suddenly decides to write and publish a book, while you're still working on the novel you started when you were 15. You may feel panicky about your own talents or may begin to doubt yourself as a person.

It's hard, but guess what? We all come into this world with different setups. Different parents, siblings, upbringings, experiences, traumas, setbacks — the whole deal. We are all, every one of us, highly specific.


And guess what else? You are, without a doubt, better than your partner at a bunch of stuff. And they are better than you at some things. And that's perfectly okay. Don't hold it against yourself or your partner.

@leilahormozi If Your Partner Is Doing Better Than You: ✅ Feel Inspired ❌ Not Envious #relationshipadvice ♬ original sound - Leila Hormozi

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5. You put each other down

Relationships can easily become a battle of the wits. At best, this can be a real positive, feeding the intellectual and creative fire and encouraging both of you to be the best versions of yourselves. At worst, however, it can become downright abusive.


No one is well-positioned to legitimately put down another person, be it subtly or explicitly. It's a giant red flag that your relationship is toxic.

If you find yourself starting to insult your partner in response to them insulting you, it's time for a big, real, vulnerable talk. If you can't find common ground and stop this extremely toxic behavior, this may not be the right relationship for either of you.

6. You feel the need to make it abundantly clear when someone finds you attractive

You either do this, or your partner does. Either way, it's a big sign that you have a competitive relationship that won't last.

Perhaps your partner makes it a point to tell you about the attractive people who flirted with them during the day or checked them out. Perhaps they also tell you that they found these strangers attractive as well.


For someone with insecurity issues, this easily becomes a toxic dynamic. While anyone who behaves this way is insecure themselves, it's not a good idea to respond with passive-aggression or anger.

couple arguing Yan Krukau / Pexels

The bottom line is that if you see someone who is supposed to be your romantic partner as more of a rival than a devious collaborator, it might not be worth your trouble. 


You may need to do some lavish self-reflecting and self-loving to get to the root of your own feelings, especially if this is a dynamic that repeats itself from relationship to relationship. Or, you may consider moving on from the relationship.

If you're in the type of partnership where there exists a mutual motivation to try, then get it done: celebrate each other's best qualities, do things together, commit to one another, and be patient with yourself.

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Maya Khamala is a freelance writer, editor, and contributor to Bellesa and Goalcast. Her writing covers gender, race, mental health, and humor.