Few long term relationships have missed the wonderful words of how much more a person’s mother cared, but that is part of a normal relationship. When one person begins with that sort of complaint, the correct response is to go home to mother. While it may seem that should be the only time when being compared can interfere in a relationship, crushing with comparisons is a subtle tool used by people who feel inferior to their spouse. Their goal is dominance through letting their partner know nothing they do will ever be good enough.
Comparisons with others should never really be a big part of a relationship, yet they can start off as innocuous words to help a person express what they want. Telling a partner that a former significant other always took the time to set the table for dinner and that they liked it seems harmless. It is not harmless, and it is often the beginning of a pattern of dominance that may eventually destroy the relationship.
Irritation can easily build up between partners when a particular former spouse or significant other is mentioned, so those using comparisons often vary the person they use for examples. They may cite a co-worker’s spouse as the person doing something nice. It can be irritating, but at least it is no longer about a former love. While it alleviates some irritation, the basic pattern has been set.
For those partner’s constantly feeling they are not good enough due to the fact they do not measure up to others, it could be time to find a new relationship. The goal of their partner is not to help make their relationship better. The goal in this case is to keep the other person off-balance, and it can eventually diminish their ability to cope with daily life or lead to depression.