When asked what they want out of a relationship, many people will give your typical good qualities: smart, funny, honest. Further exploration beyond the typical one-word adjectives will find more interesting answers that may start to vary from person to person. Some may be looking for a person who is willing to go on spontaneous adventures with them, or perhaps someone who finds comfort in curling up on the couch for an evening hot cocoa and Doctor Who binge watching. With a wide variety of characteristics, more often than not, many people are looking for—on some level—someone who challenges them.
Now, to be challenged in a relationship can mean anything from keeping one another motivated to endless contests involving a variety of board games. When it comes to competitive—or not so competitive—couples, the main concerns are typically “Will this work?” or, more importantly, “Is this healthy?” First, always consider the latter, as it is generally a good indicator of the former. A couple that plays a game under the idea that the challenge is motivating them to better themselves on some level are in competition for the benefit of one another. They are in a symbiotic relationship. However, if a couple plays simply to win, to watch the other lose or to make the other doubt their strengths, the game becomes fun for neither party involved. The difference is whether the two partners are on the same team. Partners that play for motivation play on the same team; they support one another. On the other hand, partners that play for their own satisfaction are on two different teams.
Competitiveness is always healthy on some level, but, like everything, there is always a limit and as a couple you must find a balance. Unfortunately, balance is not universally defined for each pair. For some couples, competitiveness is essential, and acts as their way of motivation for one another; the games they play function to set the bar for one another again and again, thus creating almost a never ending challenge for the two of them. Always remember: when it comes to relationships, every couple has established their own norms, and to compare one couple’s protocol to another’s, that would be simply unfair. Like comparing apples to oranges, attempting to pick out similarities and differences between other relationships and your own will only promote stress. Balance in a relationship is key, but understanding that every couple has their own balance is vital.
This then begs the question: will each partner’s level of competitiveness allow the relationship to work? If you find yourself not being an active member of the competition, while your Type A partner is already on the starting line, will it not work out? The answer is more complicated than a yes or no. For example, a non-competitive person sometimes is just what a Type A needs, and vice versa. Again, this may be what motivates one another or serve as a reminder that being challenged can be a good thing, but at the same time understanding that winning is not everything. In any situation, if you find competition to be a problem, whether there is not enough or too much, know that, like balance, communication in any relationship is key.