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How to Save Your Relationship From the Social Media Comparison Trap

How to Save Your Relationship From the Social Media Comparison Trap

“You never truly know the ins and outs of another relationship if you’re not in it,” Dr. Nasserzedah says. Yes, this applies to your besties, too: Even if you’ve hung out with your pal and their significant other on numerous occasions, you likely still don’t know the full scope of their private problems. That’s why it’s not super healthy—or helpful—to base your worth on an assumption about other people, Dr. Nasserzadeh says.

So the next time you start romanticizing someone else’s, well, romance, try becoming a little more mindful by challenging these thoughts, Battiola suggests. An example: A coworker’s gushy Bora Bora babymoon posts have you thinking their relationship must be paradise, too. Instead of just accepting that thought as a fact, you can give yourself a reality check and reframe it as, “Okay, I’m not seeing everything. Traveling can be pretty stressful and exhausting, and they’re probably not showing us the stuff that inevitably went wrong.”

Or maybe you’re jealous of the fact that your friend and their new fling seem to have all the same interests: In that case, bear in mind that hey, they may enjoy watching sports and cooking elaborate meals together, but there are probably plenty of things they do separately, too. The point isn’t to mentally tear others down, but simply to keep in mind that, as glowing as they may be in their anniversary compilations, they’re as human and flawed as the rest of us.

Be intentional about appreciating what you do have.

Instead of chasing fantasies (that may not even fulfill you IRL, by the way), remember why you’re dating your person in the first place—and what exactly you’re grateful for in the relationship. Having a partner who cooks, cleans, shops with you, and buys you designer clothes, say, might sound like a dream, but are those things really so necessary for a happy, healthy dynamic? Just because they’re lacking in some areas, doesn’t mean they’re not a great match for you overall.

“When you get too caught up in comparing your relationship to others, you’re likely to focus on what you don’t have, so it’s especially important to be thoughtful about appreciating what you do,” Battiola says. Aside from the more obvious gratitude practices (like writing a list of all the things you love about your partner), reminding yourself of their best qualities can be as simple as giving them compliments or spending quality time together. For example, you might make a point to say, “I love that you made the time to get dinner tonight at our favorite restaurant,” or “Nobody knows me as well as you, and listens to my rants without judging me.”

Another way to practice appreciating what you have is to go on what Battiola calls an “awe walk,” which is pretty much what it sounds like: “Go outside with your partner, whether it’s a new place or a familiar spot, and really notice your surroundings together and wonder about the things around you,” she recommends. This, she says, can not only push you to get out of your head (and step away from your feed), but it can also help you meaningfully connect with your partner and cultivate a more positive attitude when it comes to your life and your bond.

Figure out what really matters to you and separate it from the superficial stuff.

Comparing yourself to others in and of itself isn’t bad. Again, it’s a fundamental human tendency and it can sometimes help us become more self-aware. By drawing parallels with other partnerships, you may realize you’ve outgrown yours, say, or that your priorities have changed. But “comparison is the thief of joy” is a saying for a reason: If you start fixating on the what-ifs—or the I-wishes or the why-don’ts—you’re setting yourself up for dissatisfaction (where there might not have been any in the first place), Jenni Skylar, PhD, LMFT, sex therapist and director of the Intimacy Institute in Boulder, Colorado, tells SELF.

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