Why Keeping Score Doesn’t Work in Relationships

By November 28, 2017 No Comments

We talked on Sunday about how damaging it is to force someone to give you what you want in a relationship.  How forcing someone can lead to them holding deep resentment towards us (and us not asking for what we need seems to lead to us resenting them).  When we look in our lives, we see it happens in any kind of relationship: in couples, between family members, among friends, even colleagues at work.  Whatever the relationship, even to some degree our “relationship” with strangers, forcing someone to give you what you want seems to lead to resentment between you.  If you missed the message you can listen to it here.

But someone asked this week, what’s wrong with keeping score?  Making sure the relationship is balanced?  Making sure that what we give and what we get are equal?  But think about the motive behind this way of being in a relationship.  If we feel like the score is in the other person’s favor (meaning we have done more for them than they have done for us) there’s a justification to making the next event bias towards us right?

If we’ve been doing what you want the last 3 times we got together, next time we have to do what I want.

And that’s where this thing breaks down don’t they?  We move from a win/win relationship to another way to force someone to do something for us.  It’s our turn so now you have to do what I want, and we are back to a win/lose relationship.

I wonder if the failure of this mentality isn’t before the score started to be tallied?  I wonder if this mindset comes from the person keeping score not speaking up each and every time and ask for a win/win event.  Instead of just agreeing to go to a restaurant they  don’t want to go to, asking if we can go someplace else?  A place that is a win for both of us.  That way, the relationship never gets to a place where its imbalanced and we never need to use that imbalance to force the other party to give us what we want – because forcing seems to erode relationships.

Which relationships are you keeping score in?  Can you feel the justification that that scroecard gives you?  To demand that you win next time, regardless of the other person?  Now think back, is that imbalance there because you were quiet in past events that didn’t feel like a win/win?  Where the other party won and you lost?  What would happen if you spoke up in those times?  Would you still need to keep score?

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