Adventures in Dating

Every couple has a few issues they need to work through.
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You know it and we know it: There's no such thing as a perfect relationship. Every couple has a few issues they need to work through. Meet Nathan and Nicole (we've changed their names), a real-life couple with a real-life dating dilemma. We'll offer some advice to help them build a better relationship.



Nathan Says:
She's Too Competitive!
Nicole and I have been dating for over seven months now. I love spending time with her, but sometimes she can be so stubborn she just drives me nuts. It really comes out when we try to play games together. Here's an example:

The other day we were playing a game of darts on my new electronic dart board. It accidentally gave me the score of one of the darts she threw. I was winning at the time, but her throw was the best one of the game and probably would have helped her win. We couldn't fix the electronic score, so I said, "Let's just keep playing and see what happens." She said that was out of the question, so I suggested starting a new game. Then she said she wasn't in the mood to play anymore. I knew she was just mad because she didn't get to finish the game and beat me.

I wish she weren't so competitive. I like playing games because they're fun, but she doesn't know how to have fun unless she wins. Why can't she be less competitive and learn to loosen up?

Nicole Says:
He Always Wants to Win!
The problem here is that Nathan's idea of fun and my idea of fun aren't the same. He's so competitive, he only wants to do things he's good at: playing darts, Frisbee golf, bowling, tennis, and a bunch of other games. I enjoy those things, but he's way better than I am at all of them. Knowing that I'm going to lose miserably almost every time I play against him sort of takes the fun out playing at all. So when that dart was scored wrong, it just pushed me over the edge.

It's not that I'm hyper-competitive. I just get tired of losing all the time. And it seems like Nathan always wants to do stuff where he has the potential to win. He never wants to play games like Trivial Pursuit, because he knows I'll probably win at those. And he really dislikes activities like pick-up volleyball (which I like a lot) because he might get stuck on a bad team and lose.

I just don't understand why Nathan cares more about winning than he does about whether or not I'm having fun.

Carla's Advice:
Most people who like sports and are reasonably good at them are like Nathan: They don't like to lose. And that competitive edge makes them better athletes. On the other hand, there are lots of people like Nicole who play sports mostly for fun and honestly don't care who wins or loses. But no one, even a non-competitive person, likes to lose all the time. After all, winning feels good.

And that's really what's going on here. It's not that Nicole is stubborn or competitive, it's that she wants a fair chance at winning once in a while. If Nathan wants Nicole to lighten up and have fun when they play games, he needs to be willing to occasionally do some things she likes to do.

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