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


1,343 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.

  40. This is a stunningly written piece Adam, bringing complete sense to the fact that… “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.” And to even consider that the ‘good’ we champion and have settled for in our own comparative lives, is even worse, due to the illusionary state it lulls us into.
    What strikes me too however is that we don’t necessarily settle BECAUSE we have a worse comparison to judge our own behaviour/lives by, but that we keep our focus on what it is that is worse, which then allows us to continue the illusion of doing good or being ok. It is OUR WANT to remain settling for less than we truly are, and not the result of those extremes or overtly abusive behaviours.

  41. ‘It is OUR WANT to remain settling for less than we truly are, and not the result of those extremes or overtly abusive behaviours.’ Absolutely Jenny, well said.

  42. ‘It is OUR WANT to remain settling for less than we truly are, and not the result of those extremes or overtly abusive behaviours.’ It is only when we become honest enough to realise this that true healing can begin.

  43. This is relevant not just for relationships with a partner but for all relationships – friends, work colleagues, our kids, our parents. Abuse slips in all over the show and can be so “normal” we don’t even realise it is abuse.

  44. Great article Adam, there is much to ponder on here, I can feel that it is rare to hear about and observe truly loving relationships, from what I have observed there is often tension, unresolved issues, bitterness, resentment, judgment and this all just seems normal as most of the relationships that I see are like this, it is interesting how we then consider this ‘normal’ and the way relationships are. And how we accept this rather than making sure relationships evolve and are about love.

  45. Understanding that comparison is the root of evil will start to unravel and expose where evil lies. Exposing ‘good’ is part of the same intention of comparing one act against another.

  46. The more we allow love into our lives the more we see and feel what is not love and our markers change. Where we might have put up with certain behaviours in the past we choose now no longer to entertain them, realising how harmful they are. We can follow that adage of being a fish in the sea and not get wet. This way honours our relationships and all with whom we come into contact.

  47. It is an eye opener that any thought that holds us back from sharing what we are truly feeling is a form of aligning to abuse – no matter how ‘good’ our intention. If the motivation is other than divine truth for all then it is coming from a loveless source.

  48. Comparison is very much a silent killer of our true beauty and light. For it is there as an undertone to many interactions. If it is not felt and acknowledged, it becomes a part of how we too relate and live. Once felt and acknowledged, our movements do not allow it to be part of our next moment.

  49. Adam you write with power, strength, wisdom, and authority, and you offer the read much to consider. You are asking us to look at the bar that has been set and that many of us live to, and consider is it really true. And to re-define our relationship with abuse. Thank you.

  50. When we connect to who we truly are and where we are from, we would never meet another in anything but love. Yet we live in a world where it is very challenging to remember and be all that we are and so abuse plays out.

  51. “….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 profound point – and an uncomfortable one for many of us too. There is no comparison between an ‘arrangement’ and true love, which beholds, understands, supports the other to evolve and doesn’t judge. .

  52. A great quote you share here Adam – indeed what false consciousness possesses us to be behaving so well, including nice, good, charitable, tolerant and in many other ways that keep us far away from the divine essence within, where harmony and love are the all for the all.
    “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?”

  53. Comparison has such devastating consequences. If we use comparison as our marker, or reference point ie. compare ourselves to others, we can always justify our own abusive behaviours so long as they are not as bad as those we judge around us. Living life this way everyone stays in the mire as there is no-one offering true inspiration by living in absolute truth.

  54. Comparison allows us to justify so much of what is not our truest expression in so many ways, in relationships that is clearly highlighted in this blog. To say ‘Another is worse than me, therefore I am ok’ is an excuse to take no responsibility for expression which we know is also nowhere near our highest or truest expression of love. If we had this as our measure, it would be a very different story.

  55. Such an ouch blog, you either deepen in your love or react and avoid the truth that’s shared. Brilliant.

  56. I agree with all you are presenting here Adam. The truth is that there are only 2 sources of energy from which we can choose to express from. One is love – our divine core – and the other is not. This means that in any given moment we can either choose to express this love, or not express it. It really is that simple – black or white. However we invent the shades of grey by virtue of withholding the expression of our love and thus calling upon (inviting in) all that is not of this love, in order for us to express something that is not natural for us to express, as it does not come from the essence of who we are, although it does become very common.

    It is this ‘commonality’ that affords us an excuse to keep choosing to express from this source of energy by virtue of the fact that ‘everyone else is doing it’. On top of this we then draw upon the light of comparison to further add weight to our choice to not express love and in so doing give ourselves yet another excuse for our wayward choice by living in the self-created illusion that one form of loveless expression (e.g. a cross word to a partner or child etc.) is excusable because it is not as ‘bad’ as a more extreme form of loveless expression e.g. domestic violence or murder. And while we can agree that the former example is certainly not as severe as the latter, what we are not yet admitting is that they are both sourced from one and the same source of energy which is everything we call on to not express in full the love that we are.

  57. If I desert my body and live only from my mind, I need to find a scale from which to live. I need to know which way to go and where to step. And so my brain works overtime to calculate this, based on what it sees. It’s existence is then a kind state of constant judgement, critiquing everything endlessly. The only way I have found to short circuit this destructive loop is to learn to tune in to how I feel, as I speak, as I move. Herein lives the greatest feedback you can get – measured in the warmth of Love or the chill of contraction. Your clinical debasing of comparison Adam makes a brilliant case for returning to live in a body-focused way.

  58. It’s true – pointing the finger at another/s with judgement and condemnation for their more overtly abusive ways can be a good distraction from truly reflecting on the quality of life that we lead ourself… This is not to say that we should condone or turn a blind eye to abuse when we see it but to have the humility to be deeply honest with ourselves about the way that we live our life and are in all our relationships, so that we can continually unfold a truer and more loving way of being for all.

  59. It can seem too intricate, too far-fetched to hold ourselves to this marker of absolute Love you mention Adam. But the more I live and go on in life, the clearer it is to my eyes that we are constantly discussing, measuring and understanding our world from the point of view of what doesn’t work. If we started from what feels great and we know is of truth, wow, this would radically change our day.

  60. It is so easy to use comparison, even with our own selves. Justifying a behaviour, rather than studying it in the knowing that it may not be a true alignment with our soul is based on comparison. It is with deep humility that one let’s go and again allows our true tender loving way to bring us out of the trap that comparison is.

    1. Wow Leigh, as I was reading your comment, I realise how often comparison can still sneak in and plague my everyday life and my relationships. It certainly is a trap that drains our life and society, not at all loving or supportive for anyone.

  61. In fact we allow comparison into our lives to distract ourselves from our responsibility in life. The responsibility that we have to live in accordance with the human dignity and respect we innately are from but conveniently are ignoring and instead use comparison to justify and cover our bad choices.

  62. Great quote by Thoreau, though I feel it extends beyond comparison to encompass the good behaviours we adopt or live by, thinking ‘doing good’ or ‘being good’ is ‘it’ when we are either living in a kind of comfort (if I’m good, that’s enough) or consciously using a facade of good to mask bad behaviours.

  63. What you share about comparison is brilliant Adam. When we choose to go into comparison we are choosing a lesser form of being that breeds harm and ugliness in our lives and the world we live in.

  64. Our propensity to judge our behaviour or situation against the extremes in society, be it illness, relationships etc, is a big part of the slippery slope we are experiencing in the quality of all aspects of our lives. When we look to the extremes we lose our inner barometer of what is decent and respectful, let alone what is loving. This is what we need to come back to and always use as our measure.

  65. This habit of comparing our life experiences is reflected in the way we live – constantly repeating what we did yesterday in an attempt to recreate a past joy. But how sad is this? even if we did experience a pleasure we are trapped in the thought that having this again is the best life can be. Measuring our life from old memories and things that are not even true, guaratees a set of decisions that are going to be skewed. Your words remind me Adam to return to the one true barometer, what is and is not Love.

  66. There is so much more to relationships. The Hollywood image of love is very two dimensional, yet we fall for it and then get a big shock when things don’t work out. We are not taught what skills are needed to be in a relationship, and most crucially we are not taught about the most important relationship and that is the one with ourselves.

  67. ‘anything less than a truly open and loving relationship between two people should be seen as abusive.’ I agree. That means currently we have a mighty lot of abusive relationships in the world! Also when we talk about relationships it is not just the relationship with a man and women it can be man with man, woman with women, parent with child, brother with sister, teacher with child … we have literally so many relationships in our everyday lives.

  68. This blog really needs to be read and read and read again to get even a glimpse of what you are sharing here. Our world is very much at odds with the truth of what could be lived if we were connected to our Souls rather than our minds as it is for the majority today.

  69. This is such a beautiful blog in that it highlights to take nothing for granted but always look deeper within and deepen our truth.

  70. “Comparison leads to compromise.” So true Adam, and when we set the bar so low as to what abuse is, we allow much abuse to happen in our society.

  71. Wow this blog really asks us to look at what our point of reference is in our life, our relationships and what lies behind our actions. If the reference point is not love and coming back to love when we know we have strayed; but a reference point that is far from love and justified as ok because it’s better than that which is further from love, then we are adrift in the lovelessness of our society.

  72. Some great points raised in this blog for us to ponder on, ‘ 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?’

  73. Choosing comparison destroys relationships and prevents us from evolving. I have experienced this myself and I can see the damage and pain it causes.

  74. It is true that truth is truth and it is universal. It can’t be compared. Truth is absolute in our hearts and body and there is never any compromise, something a little bit away from truth is no longer true. We can love each other in our own ways and the truth is we know there is love felt, but the expression of this love is often far from loving but we have made it into what we call love because of a myriad ways we want to protect ourselves in. Love then is measured, it is like one part of us knows what love is, but another part of us expresses love measured, then is there love or no love? If we measure ourselves in one area in our life, in one relationship in our lives, we end up limiting ourselves in all areas.

  75. “Comparison leads to compromise.” Absolutely and compromise creates ambiguity and puts life into separate compartments of what we feel is ok and what is not, but if it is just ok, then what are we saying yes too? Life, love, work and relationships are not separate, they are apart of an all in one option, because if we compromise one area of our lives then we compromise all.

  76. Comparison kills us, we’re all here for the same reason but to learn different things, it would be so much wiser to be inspired by someone who has learnt something already that we haven’t, and to be there to help those who have not learnt the things we have already learnt.

  77. We do not think abuse is how we are, we often relate it to physical violence, but these barbed words can stay lodged in someone for a lot longer than a punch or a knife can. Of course violence is awful, but so to is the irresponsible way we use words and the energy behind them.

  78. Abuse can come in many forms, and can be evident or extremely subtle and hidden. It is only now through my choice to consistently bring more love and presence to myself that hidden forms of abuse I had towards myself are starting to emerge to be seen and healed.

  79. Could it be when we think we are doing the right thing and being good we are as you say Adam is just another form of abuse because to think you are good or right always comes with being righteous! Being good, right, bad, behaving so well and righteous all always come from a comparison.
    Leaving us with the Truth of the Soul that shares Love without comparing because we are all equally Sons of God.

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