This saying is common in relationship advice: “Relationships are about giving and taking.” Is it true? This is a complicated question that requires a longer answer. Although relationships are about the natural flow of two people giving and receiving, others interpret this to mean they should be 50-50. One person begins keeping track of other people to match them up, but this is rarely the case.
This article will go into more detail about this phenomenon and show why it harms and hinders intimacy.
What does it mean to keep score in a relationship?
Let’s review the behavior before we start. According to behavioral science, the practice of keeping score within a relationship may have had evolutionary value. This could be due to protective instincts. Our safety, shelter, and food depended heavily on our acceptance and belonging to a particular social group in the past. Humans sought to avoid isolation by maintaining status within their social groups. What better way to do this than to demonstrate our worth?
But today, the world is drastically different. So what does it mean for modern relationships to be successful?
Our primary stressors no longer concern survival. We face different threats today than our predecessors. Modern-day relationships are more likely to be about keeping score. This is because asserting a lack of contribution or a sign of the power dynamic is easier. People may try to prove that they are right and their partner wrong.
However, it is a bad habit to keep score. It can lead to increased conflict and decreased intimacy.
You are on opposite sides.
Your relationship can become a game of scores. Instead of playing with your partner, you are now playing against them. Both of you are on opposing sides and believe that one can win. Instead of being at ease with each other, there is a reminder of your competition. How can you expect to have a loving, healthy relationship with someone who is constantly in competition?
Change your perspective to shift the dynamic. It would be best not to view your partner as a rival; instead, consider them your friend and teammate. Try to make your team more substantial together. You can find new ways to support each other when you are tired. Instead of insisting that your partner does the dishes, try a different way. You can save money and buy a dishwasher to load your words together. This will allow you to spend time on something more important for your relationship.
Your partner’s happiness in love is your happiness.
Your win will be their loss if you keep competing with your partner. This competition could lead to your happiness being their loss. If your partner receives good news, it is possible to withhold your joy. This can lead to resentment and distance in a relationship that does not support a positive one.
John Gottman, the renowned marriage expert, discovered that relationships could end when spouses cannot connect or bond over positive news. These are known as “disaster couples“. Gottman’s research can help you invest in your relationship’s success. To foster a loving relationship, acknowledge and celebrate each others’ achievements every day. Incorporate empathy and understanding in your daily interactions.
You can’t listen if you keep score.
You know how it feels when your partner suggests something and you decide to shut down the other person immediately. You and your partner want to snuggle up on the sofa together to watch your favorite TV show, but you are exhausted and ready to go to bed. Instead of discussing your evening and trying to understand their perspective, you list defensively all the things you did that day and why they are so tired. This is another way to keep score in a relationship.
If you listen to your partner, it’s possible for them to understand the reasoning behind their suggestions or respond to their needs. Your partner will only feel appreciated if they feel accepted. Your insistence that they are not neglecting their needs and wants will not help. Your actions speak louder.
It is only possible to keep track of some things.
Another reason keeping score in relationships doesn’t work? It’s not possible to track everything accurately. There are many variables! You can’t create a loving connection if you focus on who does what.
People often have different scoring systems because they value other things. Your partner might have a love language about quality time, while yours is about receiving gifts. It might be an excellent gift to get a watch from your partner for your birthday. But what if you buy jewelry for your partner’s birthday? They might feel that you need to give them the time they want, such as a dinner date.
What if you feel that you can’t stop keeping score?
Some people keep score out of spite or frustration. Some do it because they are afraid the other person won’t care. It’s not healthy for a relationship to be always fifty-fifty. However, it’s also unhealthy for it be ninety-ten every time. It might be difficult to let go of the habit of comparing your partner’s actions and judging their reciprocity.
But, remember to put your partner’s health and well-being as your goal. Your partner should be able to communicate your concerns about inequality. It would be best if you communicated your concerns from the beginning, in a non-accusatory tone. Together, you can work to achieve this balance.
Scorekeeping can sometimes disappear as you make love more valuable. Sometimes conflict and rivalry can get worse depending on how you handle them. To have a happy and healthy relationship, boundaries must be established.
You might be thinking about taking the next step in your relationship , such as moving in together , or getting married . However, the additional commitment can cause scorekeeping to increase. It would be best if you were ready for it. Listen to your feelings and reflect on them. Discuss any unhappiness with your partner. Open dialogue and mindful communication often resolve misunderstandings and improve intimacy in a relationship.
You and your partner can get into trouble if you keep score in a relationship. But, you don’t have to give up on scorekeeping. You don’t have to be silent or take disrespectful treatment. It’s not healthy to feel that you are giving more than you receive in a relationship. If this is how you feel right now, it might be a good idea for you to discuss it.