10 Signs Your Relationship Is A Competition Rather Than A Partnership

Most people believe that they know the signs of a bad relationship right from the beginning — and for the most part, we do. But, there’s one major issue that most people don’t notice until after the relationship is over. That issue is the way a lot of guys see relationships as more of a competition than a chance for a loving partnership. If you notice these signs, you’re probably stuck in a bad relationship where your lover is your competitor rather than a companion.

  1. He doesn’t seem 100% happy for you when you get a major promotion at work. In a healthy, normal relationship, your S.O. will be thrilled for you when he hears you got a promotion. Hell, he might even pop champagne to toast your success. If he seems unenthusiastic or pouty when they hear about your accomplishments, he’s not your teammate.
  2. He gets snippy, grouchy, or angry when you tell them about the awesome day you had. This is most commonly seen in couples where the woman is making major career moves while the guy is at home or in a job he’s unhappy with. These are signs that your partner is too insecure to actually handle a woman who has her own lot in life. It’s also a sign that he’d rather beat you down than actually improve his own life. Not a good look, no matter how you cut it.
  3. He’s regularly said that he needs to earn more than his future partner. Most of the time, this weird competition mindset guys have stems from the fact that they’ve had the idea that being a top earner is the only way to be a real man. For guys like this, your success is an affront to his masculinity. Unfortunately, this attitude is not one that you can fix — and that means you need to bail.
  4. He’s been pressuring you into quitting your job even though it makes you happy. This is a very big red flag, primarily because this is the first step abusers take in isolating their victims. Trying to make you dependent on him aside, this habit also shows that he may have control issues that you don’t want to be on the receiving end of. Either way, if he wasn’t threatened by the fact that you have your own success, he wouldn’t be doing this.
  5. You’ve heard him tell you how emasculating it is to be around a woman who outperforms him. A good rule of thumb to follow is that you should never worry about protecting a guy’s fragile male ego by making yourself a little bit lamer. If he tells you these things, you need to tell him it’s not going to work out. A real man wouldn’t be threatened by another person’s success.
  6. He constantly proclaims, “I’m the man of the relationship!” or he makes subtle gestures to dominate you. At first glance, these don’t seem like signs of a competition, do they? They are. When guys act like this, it’s because they believe that relationships always have a winner and a loser in them. This is their “bid” to win over you, rather than to partner with you and make sure you win together.
  7. You want to lash out at him when he surpasses you at something or vice versa. A healthy relationship will have you both cheering each other on. If your first instinct is to get angry when he succeeds, you have a problem. Same if the shoe is on the other foot, obviously.
  8. You’ve caught him sabotaging your efforts at something. This is about as big a warning sign as you can get without neon lighting being installed around it. If he goes this far to “win” over you, you need to run as far away from him as possible.
  9. He has a weird need to “one up” you, no matter what it is. If you have a cold, he has pneumonia. If you won an award at work, he became Time Magazine’s Person Of The Year. Sound familiar? Yeah, this isn’t healthy. It’s pathological, and it’s a sign you need to get a new boyfriend.
  10. No matter what you do, he tells you that you’re wrong or that what you want to do is stupid. There’s a reason talking smack happens on the basketball court, you know. It’s known to upset people and make it easier to win. A guy who behaves this way is often a guy who sees you as a competitor or the enemy. You don’t have to put up with this and you definitely shouldn’t. Get out ASAP.
  11. He flaunts the fact that other girls find him attractive. Ugh, this has so many things wrong with it that it’s pretty sickening. If you notice him doing this, it’s time to cut your losses. He’s not worth the air he breathes, let alone the time you’ve already wasted on him.
Ossiana Tepfenhart is a New Jersey based writer and editor with bylines in Mashed, Newsbreak, Good Men Project, YourTango, and many more. She’s also the author of a safe travel guide for LGBTQIA+ people available on Amazon.

She regularly writes on her popular Medium page and posts on TikTok and Instagram @ossianamakescontent.