Giving and Taking: The Win/Lose Philosophy of Relationships

This is a part of a new series that I am doing about the different paradigms of human interaction in relationships.

These paradigms are based on Stephen Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. So far we have done,

Win/Win or No Deal

Today we are talking about the Win/Lose philosophy.

“Win/Lose is the authoritarian approach: ‘I get my way; you don’t get yours.’ Win/Lose people are prone to use position, power, credentials, possessions, or personality to their way.”

Most people feel as though they are in that kind of relationship already so they inherently have that mentality most of the time. It’s a very common mentality to have since we are raised from birth to compete with everyone and everything. Even in some of our families, you may have had to compete with your siblings for the attention of your parents.

In school, you were given a grade because you were compared to other students in the class. The “A” was the benchmark and if you got anything less than that, you practically was told, “you’re not as good as this student.”

At work, you may be competing to meet numbers so you can get a bonus. Not everyone can make those numbers. So while some of your co-workers are splurging on an island Christmas vacation, you’re wondering what he did to meet the numbers and how come you can't get a bonus.

You lose.

The idea of being conditionally rewarded in a relationship is a difficult topic. From the intial approach, you have to earn the trust and love of your significant other. If you do certain things, you will slowly gain the trust of your mate. But here lies the difference. If you are constantly being tested and reward for your actions - several months, years down the rad - then you are still in that Win/Lose dynamic. Eventually, you will want to get into a Win/Win dynamic. This is where conflict occurs.

The reason why is because by taking the Win/Lose method, you are deeming someone invaluable or lovable. As a result, he or she will have to constantly validate him or herself with their actions and never feel secure with internal validations from you.

Make sense?

I remember my ex-girlfriend – God bless her soul – was the embodiment of the Win/Lose mentality. If she didn’t get her way, it would be hell for everyone, even for those who cared about her. I realized that it wasn’t her fault. How she was raised and the kind of environment that she grew up in caused her to be that way. In the end, it wasn’t healthy for me in the long run, no matter how much I wanted to be with her at the time. You can’t approach a relationship with a Win/Win attitude and expect someone to change from his/her Win/Lose habits. Just doesn’t work like that. It takes communication, patience and consideration – if you think it’s worth it. I would constantly push to make her happy because I didn’t want to see her in any emotional pain. In the end, I was on the losing side more often than not.

We’ll get into that tomorrow.

Obviously there is a time and place for Win/Lose situations in life, such as sports, law, perhaps, and video games. Never in a relationship. Basically you are saying that you have a low level of trust for that person and isn’t trust one of the pillars that keeps a relationship intact long-term?

I make sure I let my girlfriend know that I am in it for Win/Win all the time. When we both have that approach, it makes it so much easier to work together to make us both happy. That's why it's important to be a good team in your relationship.

Competition is healthy in a relationship if you are making your significant other a better person and it doesn’t affect him or her negatively. But don’t use it to gain an upper hand or unnecessary leverage over someone you supposedly care about.

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