Relationship Dynamics- Avoiding the Winner vs. Loser Rhetoric

Life is composed of a series of complex relationships that touch every aspect of our lives. We form relationships with others in the context of friendships, professional arenas, familial ties that weren’t our choosing, and romantic partnerships. Perhaps the most complicated of them are the romantic entanglements that are rife with landmines we are forced to navigate. 

No two people are exactly the same. We have many strong similarities and personality traits, but we are as different as we are human. This causes friction, which often leads to fights and battles of perspective. When couples differ on a decision that needs to be made or are on opposite ends of a sensitive subject, a heated argument is born. One of the biggest pitfalls that couples tend to stumble into is the concept of the winner versus the loser.

Simply put, we are naturally drawn to being right. It is a character flaw that plagues the human race so strongly that it often blinds us. We try to prove each other wrong, and feel vindicated and strong when we do. However, the reality is that no matter who wins the argument, both participants are losers.


It’s like football. Each team exerts more energy into winning the game rather than focusing on the enjoyment they get out of playing it. The stronger the teams are, the more difficult the game, the more aggressive the players become. Hatred and mistrust begins to fester, and love for the game itself takes a backseat to the satisfaction of winning and declaring the other team beneath them.

Furthermore, when one team is scoring more points (i.e. winning more arguments), the other side begins to become disheartened by the outcome of the match and the desire to play slowly wanes. 

This can be applied to relationships. When couples are often arguing and trying to prove that their partner is wrong, their goal is no longer to cultivate a happy and healthy relationship. It becomes a constant battle of wits, and each person’s main objective is to prove that the other person is wrong. This slowly fosters resentment, which sends the couple into a freefall that likely culminates in an ugly separation.

The best way to go about resolving disagreements is calmly presenting each point of view without attacking the other person personally or attempting to discredit them. More often than not, there is a middle ground that can satisfy both parties. Learning to compromise is equally important, and letting things go that will not matter in the long run is a good way to diffuse disagreements in the moment, without letting resentment and anger linger. 

Regardless of who proves their point the most correct, everyone eventually loses, because the positive attributes in each partner are clouded by anger and resentment that is difficult to get rid of permanently, especially without some form of outside help. Couples therapy is a good option to consider when things have already gotten this far, so long as both partners are willing to buy into the process. 

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