Comparison is the Thief of Joy

Theodore Roosevelt once said that comparison is the thief of joy.  

We’re all guilty of comparing ourselves to other people at some point or another. Whether it be our friends, other bloggers, celebrities, a guys ex girlfriend. I’m sure there’s been a time when you’ve looked at another person and compared yourself to them. Comparing yourself to somebody else usually happens in the categories that in your head, you’re going to lose out in. “She’s prettier than me” “her blogs better than mine” “she earns more money than me” “she’s funnier than me” (actually, I’ve never come across that last one).

We’re told not to compare ourselves to others, that we are who we are and we should be happy in ourselves, our own abilities, what we have instead of focusing on what we don’t think we have, because more often than not it’s a case of misguided vision rather than fact.


Comparisons. I came across a situation recently where comparison seemed to be perfectly acceptable. Around a year ago a friend of mine went through a break up, you know the type, a horrible crying, kick in the stomach and makes you feel sick break up with someone who she thought was the love of her life. Haven’t we all been there? Over time you find that your grow and change as a person for the better but as a couple you can grow apart, thus equalling time called on the relationship.

Chapter closed.

Fast forward a year and attempting to do that thing which people call “moving on“.

When it comes to break ups moving on can be one of the hardest things to do. Dependent on how the relationship came to be no longer there may always be a part of you which will still love that other person or at least hold a candle for them. When you’re a part of someones life and them a part of yours for so long it can be difficult to completely cut off all emotions where they are concerned.

It wasn’t as though my friend didn’t find men attractive or that she was short on male attention. She would flirt with guys, go on dates and the initial blossoming of a new relationship would begin, but as soon as there was a hint of this burgeouning romance leading to anything more than “undefined” she would allow it to lose momentum like slamming on the brakes of a bicycle when you’re freewheeling down a hill, wind in hair. A sudden jolt would snap her quickly out of the feelings she had been experiencing. She’d question her feelings for him, his feelings for her and the whole thing would be over before it had even properly began.

All because of him.

Moving on and taking that next step with somebody else is almost like you’re admitting that everything you once had with that other person is over. You let it be over.

That intense fear took over and she would try to grab onto the threads that once kept their lives entwined. Their common interests, the memories they shared and in doing that she’d open a Pandora’s box of feelings which she had filed away in the archive of “things that didn’t work out”. Opening this box would lead to comparison of the burgeoning new relationship and that of the old. But new and old are completely different and not to be compared.

It’s almost expected to compare future boyfriends to the one that got away. “Boy A isn’t as nice as Boy B because of XYZ” or “Boy B does this whilst Boy A used to do that“. There’s a rose tinted view of how life used to be because when things are new they come washed in splendid and stark brightness. Boy B isn’t given the chance to be judged on his own merits. Instead of recognising everything that Boy B has to offer the focus is drawn to what he doesn’t do in comparison to the ex and thus closing yourself off to new possibilites.

Here’s the thing though, there is a reason why Boy A is called “an ex”, there is something there between the two of you which didn’t work out. It may not be the small comparable things which caused the demise in a relationship, but look at it like a butterfly affect of factors.

What if you were to compare Boy A to Boy B instead of vice versa? What attributes would you find in Boy B which you wish Boy A had. 1 month, 6 months, a year, 15 years down the line Boy B could be the one who you’re comparing Boy C to. Its a vicious circle of comparisons and can only lead to disappointment because at the end of the day we’re all individual and should be based upon what we bring to the table not in a thunderdome version of events where we’re pitted off against the next opponent.

Which is why, when it comes to life and love, the only thing we should be comparing is car insurance or meerkats.  Simples.