What Is A Scarcity Mindset — And Why It's Destroying Your Relationship

Do you ever feel like there isn't enough time in the day, or never enough money? You might have a scarcity mindset.

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Most of us are in search of a loving, deep connection with another person. However, there are a few subtle, underlying forces that can set women up for failure. One of those things is when you are influenced by what's called "scarcity mindset".

Living in such a fast-paced, unpredictable world, a scarcity mindset can sneak into your relationship and ruin what was once a good thing. To avoid this, it is important to understand what a scarcity mindset is and how it can impact your relationship.


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What is a scarcity mindset?

A scarcity mindset is one in which you believe limited resources are available. In other words, there just isn’t enough.

There isn’t enough time, money, supplies, jobs, social connections, etc. Whatever it may be, there just isn’t enough.


In some ways, a scarcity mindset can be beneficial as you will be mindful not to waste things. For example, instead of just putting a few items in a trash bag, you actually fill it up before taking it out. Or you are conscious about the food you buy, not having to throw anything away wastefully.

But when your mind becomes so focused on what you don’t have, you are not fully aware of what is happening around you. People stuck in an unbalanced scarcity mindset may begin to make irrational decisions — short-term actions that can negatively impact your relationship and future.

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Six ways scarcity mindset affects otherwise good relationships

1. Fighting over money

Finances can be a major point of failure in a relationship. You and your partner may have decided to keep a budget, and you’ve been sticking to it. But you see your neighbor acquiring new items like a new car or furniture or taking exotic trips. These are things you think you want to do and have, but there just isn’t enough money.


The green-eyed monster, jealousy, steps in, and friction develops. The pressure is on you and your partner to make more money to keep up with the purchases of neighbors, friends, and family. 

The impact of working so much and conversations around the need to have these things can lead to arguments where there seems to be no resolution. The feeling of scarcity, of having what you see others having when sometimes you don’t even want them, can lead to failure.

If you can talk openly and lovingly about money, you can avoid the worst fights and the division that occurs when a scarcity mindset puts people into fight mode.

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2. Fighting over time and household efforts

Scarcity mindset in a relationship can also pit your partner as your enemy when it comes to who takes care of chores, home maintenance, scheduling and planning, and even childcare and parenting duties.

If you see your partner as you competitor for scarce resources, day-to-day life can be come miserable. For instance, a scarcity mindset can cause you to fight over who has to wake with the baby at night, who needs to put away the clean dishes in the morning and who should be buying the holiday gifts for extended family. 

If you can ditch the scarcity mindset, you can look at each responsibility as a team and divide things equitably. When you are both being generous, you can stop being competitors and create a real partnership, but that cannot be done if you are so tied to the idea that you have to fight for every morsel of those limited resources. 

3. Over-buying or hoarding in your shared spaces

As you watch TV or are scrolling through social media, you see advertisements that say, “Act Now,” “Limited Time Offer,” or “Only a few remain.”


 To avoid missing out, you take out the credit card and start making purchases. You may not need the item right now, but you may never find it at that price again. If you look around your home, you might notice you have multiple packs of the same items. They may be in different colors, but they all do the same thing. Your rationale was, I’ll buy them — just in case.

Behaviors like this can unconsciously and quietly shift into hoarding. You hold onto items because of fear, from a scarce mindset, of not having enough. You don’t want to risk being without things. A future problem is being solved by stocking up, just in case, but what you have really done is break the budget to create a cluttered home.

A disorganized home can create an uncomfortable living situation which can impact your relationship. If you are not residing in the same house, you may even be too ashamed to invite your date or partner over, causing the relationship to fail before it even gets started.

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4. Neglecting other priorities that don't feel as scarce or urgent

A scarcity mindset can distract you from other areas of your life, especially how you care for yourself. With such a narrow focus, you can forget appointments that don’t seem so important. This can include routine checkups and other doctors’ appointments. What could have been preventative care becomes urgent care.

You may also tend to neglect your self-care routine. The steps you took to take care of yourself and keep yourself healthy are things that attracted your partner to you and keep them around.

Your thoughts are so focused you can stop doing the small things your partner loves. It could be the simple things from a text during the day or a thoughtful action around the house. They will notice a difference in your behavior and can feel neglected. After a while, they can pull away from you and seek attention elsewhere or decide this relationship isn’t for them.

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5. Leaving your partner out of important conversastions

When you have a scarcity mindset, you often feel there just isn’t enough time. You can skip steps to get things done or even overpay on projects or items because you need them now. Maybe you are saying yes, when you don’t have enough time or don’t really want to, ultimately overloading your schedule.

When this happens, you make decisions quickly without enough information or consulting your partner.

Being so focused on what you don’t have, you are less attentive to other important aspects of your life. You may forget things you have to do or even fail to share important information with your partner. Your partner may begin to lose trust in you and begin to rethink the relationship.

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6. Your mental and emotional health may suffer

Behaviors associated with a scarcity mindset can lead to depression, anxiety, or other mental health challenges.

With your thoughts focused on one thing, you can become obsessed with it leading to reckless behaviors and uncalculated risks. You can act irrationally and never escape the feeling that something is missing, a sense of lack. But a concern for mental health is not just for you, but your partner as well.

Your partner may suffer in silence, not knowing how to respond to your behaviors. This can lead to resentment, which can be very hard to overcome. Or they may seek to secretly find someone who does see them and acknowledge how they feel. If you find yourself or your partner experiencing depression, anxiety, or other mental health challenges, please seek assistance from a counselor, coach, or therapist. 


When you have a scarcity mindset and are so focused on one thing (what you believe you have less of or not enough of) this mindset distracts from your relationship.

It would be best if you began to shift your mindset to avoid a failed relationship. Be aware of the impact a scarcity mindset can have, and if you value your relationship, remove the blinders to look past the situation.

Shift your mindset to the opposite of scarcity, which is abundance. Once you shift your mindset, not only will your relationship begin to thrive again, but you will also open the door to new possibilities.

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Carolyn Owens is a best-selling author and master-certified (MCC) executive, leadership, and mentor coach. She has more than 25 years of experience working with top figures in leadership and professional development.