Keeping score is detrimental to relationships, and it will often end up killing them completely. But why do people keep score in the first place?
Well, it is often because it is a learned behaviour. Our parents are often our very first role models for relationships, and how they functioned together can say a lot about how our future relationships play out. If your parents kept score, chances are you will as well. Keeping score in your relationships will not only end in heartache, but it is a completely exhausting and unnecessary practice. It is also modeled in a lot of other dysfunctional relationships that we can find ourselves in (friendships, professional relationships, and other family relationships).
It is true that you should be getting back what you put into a relationship, but the meaning behind this is oftentimes misunderstood. This does not mean that you should be spending as much money as your partner, or doing nice things in equal amounts. It means that you and your partner should be doing things for each other and working towards the common goal of happiness and fulfillment in relationship (not working against each other). When things are truly even in a relationship, there is no need to keep score.
Here are some things to keep in mind, and to help you to break the habit of keeping score in your relationship:
Love is not a competition. Being in love with someone and having a relationship is not a “you vs. them” situation. Relationships are a partnership, and keeping score makes it a competition. It is important to recognize that you are not playing for opposing teams, but for the same team. Working together is how we overcome the challenges and struggles in a relationship.
Keeping score builds resentments. If one partner feels that they are putting far more into it then they are getting back out, resentment will start to build. Resentments can start out small, but they will morph into a general dislike towards your partner. Functioning in a relationship where love and mutual happiness is no longer the main goal is nearly impossible.
People need to give and take different amounts at different times during a relationship.Relationships cannot always be perfectly balanced. One partner may need a bit extra emotional support from their partner at one point, and these positions will switch back and forth throughout the course of the relationship. The important thing is that overall you will be getting back as much as you put in, it may just be at a different time or in a different situation.
Scoring is different for everyone. What you hold in high value, may be something totally different for your partner. You and your partner may value different things, making it impossible to keep an accurate “score”. This will just cause more problems than it solves and it is not something that can be changed, as values are a part of your core being.
The best thing that you can do for your relationship is to stop taking inventory of what you are doing for each other, and take a good hard look at what you and your partner want for each other. If the end goal is not mutual happiness and fulfillment, it is certainly time to re-evaluate just how invested the two of you are in the relationship. Don’t keep score, instead, live each day working towards a happy and healthy relationship.