The Light of Comparison and Relationships

Recently I read a blog called “A Sharing for Men About Women.” It was an eye-opening blog for it started to challenge how we should look to define abuse in relationships.

In short, this blog was asking us to consider that anything less than a truly open and loving relationship between two people should be seen as abusive.

This in itself is a provocative statement, and there would be many – especially men who are not ‘violent’ towards their partners – who would take issue with this extreme proclamation, citing the fact that when compared to the ugliness of domestic violence, their relationship is indeed quite healthy. And from where they stand, they would be telling the truth – to a point.

But let us put aside such reactions for a second and ask what it is that this statement is really asking us to consider. For underneath its foray into the world of relationships, what this is really pointing to is the propensity of society to use the extremes of human experiences as the litmus test by which all else is judged. As human beings we like to look out at all that we consider as evil in society, and so long as our life compares well to such darkness, we do not question whether or not what we have is actually true.

The man who yells at his wife but does not hit her does not consider himself to be abusive by comparison. The man who controls and dominates the relationship by using his “superior knowledge and intellect” to suppress his partner’s voice will never admit that he has been abusive whilst he can hear the man next door yell and lose his temper. And, to add a dash of controversy to the mix, I am sure that we would never consider by light of such examples that the man who is quiet and acquiescent to all of his partner’s demands is actually living in a mutually abusive relationship.

In the world of comparison, all of these men would have a right to say that they are not abusive. Even the man who hits his wife can argue he has not murdered or raped her or broken any bones. What has she to complain about? She is alive and only has bruises that will in time heal. Whilst this may seem preposterous, it is how some men think, or at least behave. And who is the great moral crusader to argue, when they have used the same barometer of comparison to measure the quality of their own life?

Herein lies the ludicrousness of the way we measure our existence, for it is by such a mechanism that we create our own perception of what is, when at least seen through the eyes of our own divinity, black and white.

Comparison leads to compromise. Compromise leads to the acceptance of something that is less, and before long truth not only gets diluted, it no longer even appears on the horizon of our awareness. Comparison makes the world grey. Edges are no longer crisp, and clarity is lost in a haze of moral ambiguity.

Thus today, when we end up in the situation where we consider a relationship where both parties get on and tolerate each other’s differences, don’t argue or wage war on each other and are generally comfortable with each other, to be one that is not just acceptable… we consider it to “be” loving when by essence it falls well short of the forever expressive nature of what true love actually entails.

And as I write this, I know that there will be those who will read this statement and say – I have that. I have love in my life. And maybe you do. But how do we know, especially when we have used the evil of comparison as the corrupt mechanism by which we gauge all of life? How do we know that we have not just found a person who does not push our buttons, who by silent agreement does not challenge our preconceived notion of what we want the world to be? In other words, how do we know we have found a relationship of love, and not just one of mutual convenience that serves to keep us blind to the true nature of our own existence?

As Henry Thoreau once controversially wrote, “The greater part of what my neighbours call good, I believe in my Soul to be bad, and if I repent of anything, it is very likely to be my good behaviour. What demon possessed me that I behaved so well?”

What was he talking about? He was talking about comparison.

By Adam Warburton

Further Reading:
Making a relationship About True Love
Comparing Myself to Others
Seeking Connection and True Relationships


1,299 thoughts on “The Light of Comparison and Relationships

  1. This is awesome Adam, so often we hear comments of comparison to justify how things are, yet as you point out, when we use love and the marker- this exposes the truth of all that is happening in the relationship.

  2. When I look around me I see so many relationships/marriages that appear to be only for “mutual convenience” and when I observe the individuals closely I see eyes that are dulled and feel hearts that are all but closed. To live in this mostly commonly accepted state is bound to have negative effects on each of the bodies as there has most definitely been compromise to keep the relationship going, with this compromise flowing into resentment, judgment, tolerance and many other emotions that are inflicted on the body that is carrying them; a body that feels the weight of the lack of honesty with every movement.

  3. Comparison makes anything complicated, connecting to and listening to how we feel often comes very black and white and with that we can’t hide anything. I still find this confronting and yet cannot deny how simple life is the more I accept the black and white rather than using huge amounts of energy to hide in the grey in between.

  4. The irony is what one person defines as abuse another doesn’t. This in itself creates much disharmony and frustration.

  5. We spend so long in relationships in things like comparison, judgement and protection but all of this is avoiding feeling stillness which is where our true love in a relationship is found.

  6. Once we connect to the fact that we are ALL forever students, developing, expanding and evolving and that there is no end point we can actually welcome having exposed anything that is not of love for every time an action, behaviour, habit, belief, pattern etc that is not of love is exposed and let go off it makes way for more love, joy, truth, harmony and stillness in our life.

  7. The more love I allow into my life the more it exposes abuse of any kind. Adam your blog is very powerful in exposing how we have let comparison of others be the marker to what we see as being abusive or not. I know that when I hold myself in love then abuse of any kind is not an acceptable in my life.

  8. Beautiful Anon, our world is full of theories and essays on who is to blame, and even in our everyday lives there’s a palpable sense of how ‘everything would be alright if it wasn’t for other people’. Your words cut all that down and make it so clear the beauty and loveliness of our life starts and ends with how much we honour our light.

  9. If we continue to measure life from what we have known we will perpetually be owned by the past. If we look to others for a sense of safety in us, we will always be chasing an out of reach carrot. And most of all as you show Adam we miss out completely on our true beauty. There is no-one I need to copy or to beat, all that’s needed is to be simply be me.

  10. I have started observing more my own movements and others to find abuse is very common, and how no one calls it out, is it because we all keep quiet about what we see, because if we do call it out we have to be more responsible to humanity and ourselves?

  11. These few words are very powerful and look to debase the whole poor foundation (if you can call it that!) our relationships have been built upon. ‘the propensity of society to use the extremes of human experiences as the litmus test by which all else is judged.’ Basically saying if we are basing our relationships on what we see today in the world then it is not going to take much to make them a little bit better. But what is ‘better’? Better is not the true reflection or livingness of our divine way of being where brotherhood, equality and love are a few of the principles relationships are truly based on. If we came from here first we would see the absolute mess of our relationships within the world today.

  12. Adam, thank you for this amazing and powerful blog. I now understand comparison on a deeper level. This is supporting me to be more aware of the many insidious forms of comparison I have been choosing and experiencing. With more awareness this enables me to expose it and dissolve its harmful effects and bring love to my relationships.

  13. Comparison can lead to compromise, and it can also lead to a sense of inflated (baseless) worth, or a sense of no worth. In any case the results of comparison are not those that lead to a loving relationship with yourself.

  14. “Comparison leads to compromise. Compromise leads to the acceptance of something that is less, and before long truth not only gets diluted, it no longer even appears on the horizon of our awareness.” This is so profound Adam. When we compare we can feel ‘better than’ or ‘worse than’ – neither of which is true. We are the subject of our choices – and learning to accept and appreciate who and where we are at allows us to change. Developing a loving relationship with ourselves – without any comparison – then allows us to evolve.

  15. We all know very well what love is and what true is but if we do not want to see it or live up to it we can use anything and everything to justify. Yet truth is truth and love is love and we can not change this fact.

  16. Oh Adam, your blog stings me deep as I feel the demons that have controlled my moves. As the extraction begins the lines become crisp and the expansion of truth is felt again.

  17. So very true we have made comparison our guiding marker which has nothing to do with the truth we know deep down but keeps us in a slumber far away from the love that could be lived.

  18. It’s very uncomfortable to be confronted with a possibility what we have settled for is so far off from the truth of what is – how poor it is to accept something just because that is not as bad as whatever the extreme – it challenges and rocks our value.

  19. How often do we choose the current definition of ‘Normal’ to justify our behaviour, and the ‘Normal’ has a very strong relationship to comparison. Both can become very twisted depending on what we use as our first marker of what is true.

  20. If we were to be truly honest we would be able to say that we do actually know when we allow abuse of any degree in our lives, we simply choose to override out truth. It is just we are not willing to take responsibility for the reason as to why we are choosing to be less than the love we are and deserve to live with. It is time to self-reflect, discuss and redefine what abuse truly means, as then we will truly be able to not only address and arrest the increasingly devastating abuse that is visibly developing out of control in our society, but also heal why we as a society are allowing it and accepting less that the absolute love we rightfully deserve to live.

  21. In the connection of two people we have as a society settled for much less than is on offer. We have settled for disdain, dismissiveness, lack of care and much more. In truth the love and tenderness that can be between two people (regardless of whether they are in an intimate relationship or not) is there for the taking. We just need to decide not to settle for less.

  22. Comparison can keep us feeling very comfortable. As long as we are doing better than some, we see ourselves as doing OK. The flip side is that when we see a relationship that is more loving, are we inspired to make changes, or do we look away because we don’t want to rock the boat and move from the comfortable position. It can be very challenging to see where we have compromised and settled for less.

  23. There is so much justification of behaviour because it is not as bad as the extremes that we are fed for example by the media but this is such a cop out and I can feel how I have justified doing/and particularly not doing things by comparing what I have witnessed elsewhere and how this diminishes my relationships because any compromise is felt by the other person.

  24. So much of my ‘good’ behaviour has been about conforming and not rocking the boat because I learnt early that speaking my truth was not well received. Truth is sorely needed to call out the arrangements that we have settled for that are the foundations that the more extreme behaviours are built on and justified from.

  25. the quote at the end by Thoreau says much – in that it highlights how we have allowed ourselves to be fooled by the highest virtues of what we call good as being the highest echelons of potential, when the truth is we are far more than that which we espouse to be good. What we call good should be the bare minimum standard by which we define all relationships.

  26. how do we know we have found a relationship of love, and not just one of mutual convenience that serves to keep us blind to the true nature of our own existence? A great question Adam, and for me, having been in a relationship based on mutual convenience and accepting that as love, you are always wanting for something because the love you claim that is there, is totally empty.

  27. This same comparison is used all through life and not just in relationships. We may even compare ourselves with our former selves to justify why we are quite ok as we are now. But life offers us evolution and unless we continually make that choice and consistently choose the path of evolution, contrary to what we may think – things won’t stay the same, they will get worse as we are supposed to evolve.

  28. Adam, truly gorgeous, as you say: what demon has possessed me that I behaved so well.. This is a very good example of how good behavior can be based on comparison if we don’t truly feel the energy behind it. I have heard it said that: Comparison is the thief of Joy – hence we know well how to sabotage ourselves and our environment too.

  29. You raise some really great points Adam, especially around how we tolerate, defend and justify our existence regarding relationships. What we are willing to accept and put up with. There is always a moving yard stick depending on where we are at in life. But if we make the foundation love, there is a different playing field in which to benchmark what and how to be with each other.

  30. “… anything less than a truly open and loving relationship between two people should be seen as abusive.”
    This is absolutely true Adam and something we have lost our sensitivity to as a populace. Abuse has become the physical bashing, or at the very least a raised and harsh voice, but what you are sharing is so much more than that.
    A movement made in frustration, a gesture of aggression, a word spoken with disrespect for the essence of who we are… that is the level we need to restore our sensitivity to, before we will begin to truly understand abuse. This can only happen from the body’s response to these things as a disturbance, which means from a body that is not only living that degree of love and harmony every day, but is also prepared to say no to those disturbances when they occur.

  31. Comparison can be used as a ‘get out of jail free’ card for poor behaviour, justifying it as acceptable. It never really works though, for the body knows it is living as less than it is and sooner or later that poor behaviour is exposed.

  32. We are so very much grander than we allow ourselves to be aware of. The levels of love that are available to us are almost unfathomable so why settle for abuse!

  33. Thank you Adam. Your words are deep. And felt in my body as a true. You just tip on the deep lies we live without being aware even anymore how deep we dropped of. I am sure by re reading it next time I will feel more of the depth you bring.

  34. A great exposure of the many faces, facets and forms of accepted ‘normal’ behaviours that are not recognised as abusive as they are not physically violent. How de-sensitising comparison is.

  35. This is something I have been in the grip of for many a life, only now starting to see my way clearly. If we do not choose to see the might of love we all come from, and hence the might of love we can all chose to live in, then what we choose to compare to is always going to be void of this love.

  36. So true, to measure our happiness, quality of life, the love we perceive, by how another is doing, is not loving. It bolsters a false understanding and knowing of love.

  37. Lovely sharing Adam, and great question you raised in your blog when we talk about love ‘But how do we know, especially when we have used the evil of comparison as the corrupt mechanism by which we gauge all of life?’ I have found true love to be when you call out anything that is not love, it is easy to fool ourselves that when we compromise with each other we are being loving, but what if there was no need for compromise and relationships were built on a foundation of honesty and love.

  38. Tolerance keeps us away from Love and true relationship. It harbours hate and dissension under a veneer of ‘nice’ that can turn at any time.

  39. Accepting anything less than love is abuse, understanding this for me makes life very clear and simple. Even the most subtle forms of abuse becomes super clear and obvious.

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