It’s normal to compare.
It’s one of the main reasons why social media is so addictive.
Who has the best house? The most Insta-worthy meal? The most luxurious holiday, cutest pet, best body, glossiest hair?
Anyone (everyone) who has ever scrolled and felt lacking in any (all) departments, knows comparing yourself to others isn’t usually a pleasant experience.
Start doing it with your relationships, however, and you’ll lose more than pride and ego.
This week, UK sex expert Tracey Cox reveals why being envious of other people’s partners will leave you unsatisfied and resentful for no reason. Stock picture
Comparison is the thief of joy
This saying has been around for years – for good reason.
Figuring where we stand in the scheme of things can sometimes be productive. Wanting someone else’s job, for instance, can spur us onto working harder and trying for that promotion.
Wanting someone else’s partner does little else but make us feel unsatisfied and resentful – often for no good reason.
Here’s why you shouldn’t envy other people’s relationships.
They are never quite what they seem…
There’s a negative flipside to any positive quality. The guy you admire for being so free and spontaneous is also rarely on time and can’t commit to anything. He’s manly and takes charge? He might also be misogynistic and controlling. What attracts us at the start, often repels us at the end.
It could be a front. Plenty of women who’ve been victims of domestic abuse had partners who were charming.
It’s not unusual for friends to disbelieve their victims, when they do find the courage to speak out. ‘He wouldn’t do that! He’s not like that! He’s funny and clever!’. The public and private face of someone can be completely different.
Tracey reveals what you can do when your consumed by the throws of envy
Some people make great friends but terrible partners. You’re a little in love with your friend’s husband who flirts a little, takes an interest, gives you compliments and makes you laugh. If only you could have him for yourself. Now imagine what it’s like being with a man who pays a little bit too much attention to your friends…
What you see is clouded by what you think you’re missing out on. If your husband sits on the sofa and watches sport all weekend, the husband who’s out mowing the lawn and playing with his kids is going to be look mighty appealing. This can blind you to other factors. He might treat his children well but ignore his wife.
We take our own partners for granted. We notice the things that annoy us but often overlook the everyday things our partner does to make our day go better. The cups of tea that appear magically. The lift from the station. Not being one of those couples who sit across from each other with nothing to say. Bringing back daffodils along with the milk and bread.
Look at your partner through eyes searching for positives and you’re likely to see plenty of ways they show love without wanting something in return.
Many a person regrets trading ‘up’. The richer, more successful version of your current partner is also likely to be a workaholic. You get the spoils of success – but no partner around to enjoy them with.
Still feeling pangs of envy?
Write down the qualities you admire in the person you’re longing to be with. Be realistic. Is your current partner capable of achieving these things? Would they even want to?
Envying other people’s relationships can sometimes mean you’ve outgrown your partner. If this is the case, an honest chat about what you both want from life, is long overdue.
I WANT HER HUSBAND
Julianne, married with a child, longs for a husband like David. (Both names have been changed.)
‘I’m forever watching David and comparing him unfavourably with my own husband. David rowed for his university (of course). He’s got muscular calves and great shoulders and walks with purpose. My husband works in an office and has that I’ve-been-hunched-over-a-computer thing going on. He doesn’t work out and he should.
You can tell by looking at David that he’s successful. His clothes aren’t designer flash but everything he wears is elegant and well-cut and well-made. My husband keeps himself slim but rarely steps out of jeans. He dresses the same as every other man in his late 40s.
But it’s the way David deals with things that’s so impressive. He’s the one we send to try to get us a table at a restaurant on impulse, when you usually have to book a month ahead. He’s always successful. My husband wouldn’t know where to begin. It’s his competence, complete command over any situation, the way he assumes he will get his own way because he always does. He’s not pushy or brash. He’s calm, likeable, good-looking and a doer. That’s a dynamite combination.
I am used to carrying two people. I am the doer in our relationship, the boss, the person who makes all the decisions. I’m a control freak, he’s not. It works but I often wonder: What would it be like to have a husband who took control and you never had to double check what they’d done? That’s damn appealing for most women.
I’m not the only one who wants David as a husband. It’s a joke among the women in our group that he’s the one we’d all trade our partners for. We say this in front of his wife who isn’t in the slightest bit threatened. That’s the other thing that’s so attractive about him. He knows he could be having affairs but doesn’t.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my husband. He’s kind and funny and very caring. I think we all lust or long for other people’s partners in some way. I told a friend I was being interviewed about this and she told me she wanted MY husband.
Her partner is quite prickly and controlling and always picking her up on things she does. She sees my husband as laid-back and easy to live with. She thinks he’s amusing, not hung up on image and spontaneous. If I look at him through her eyes, I can see it. You always want what you don’t have.
I LONGED FOR MY FRIEND’S PARTNER – AND IT ALMOST COST ME EVERYTHING
Jodie, 36, had been married for 17 years when she first met Stacy and her husband John. (All names changed.)
‘I got with my husband in our late teens. By 25 we had two kids. We loved them and we loved each other. Sex was never really our thing, but we didn’t know any different so muddled along. I would have said I was 9/10 happy.
THE HUSBANDS NO-ONE WANTS
Absolutely no-one’s lining up to take this guy…
The one who puts his wife down in front of everyone.
The one who barely acknowledges his kids.
The one who’s cheating.
The one who lies.
The one who secretly racks up huge debt.
The one with a drug or alcohol abuse problem.
The one who is verbally or physically abusive.
My husband worked with his father who ran a local real estate firm. There were lots of dinners with clients, but I didn’t mind because I had lots of friends to fill the time with. Then his Dad asked him to open an office out of town. We moved and my support system was gone. My husband worked all the time trying to make it and I became desperately lonely.
Eventually, I made friends with a woman at my gym. Her husband, who worked in IT, worked from home. I liked him right from the start and the three of us started hanging out together. My husband didn’t even meet my new friends for four months. The few times he was home, he said he wanted to spend it just with me.
John and my husband are opposites. Stacy works and he helps with the kids, does all the cooking and lots of ‘women’s’ stuff. I couldn’t help but compare. I was the traditional ‘wife’, my husband was the breadwinner. I’d never questioned whether that suited me or not. Now I did. Every time I spent time with the couple, I wanted their life not mine.
I started fantasising about John, imagining him as my husband. I’d dream about getting a great job and having a relationship like theirs. In my fantasy, my husband and his wife just disappeared, there wasn’t any nastiness. We just ended up together and led a life this idyllic life.
What started out as harmless daydreaming turned weird. I became obsessive. I’d talk about him to my husband incessantly. All he did was ask if his wife was also there and I’d say yes; he clearly thought, nothing to worry about then.
She was always there but I’d vie for his attention whenever he was around, and she commented on it. ‘Are you flirting with my husband?’ she asked, laughing at first. He’d just look embarrassed but – I kidded myself – also secretly pleased. I had both their numbers and one day I rashly took a chance and texted him and asked if he wanted to have a drink, just him and I.
He didn’t text back, just showed his wife. She called me, furious, asking what the hell I was up to. She also called my husband and told him what had happened.
I was shocked. All I’d done was ask him for a drink. But we all knew I was in love with him, and everything fell apart. They told me never to come near them again. That meant coming up with a story for my kids, who had become close to their kids. They told their children the truth, so my kids quickly found out, too.
My husband came home immediately and was devastated at my potential betrayal. He kept saying, ‘What’s happened to you? This isn’t you? What’s going on?’ and crying. We’re still together and having counselling to sort it all out. I’m hopeful but even though nothing physical happened, the intent to cheat was there for all to see. My husband knows it and my kids know it.’
Listen to Tracey’s podcast, SexTok with Tracey and Kelsey, on sextokpod.com or wherever you get your podcasts.