The ego is the human mind’s way of distinguishing itself from the selves of others and objects of its thought. Although everyone possesses an ego in some form, the degree to which people let it meddle with their relationships varies considerably.
There are three main instances in romantic relationships where the ego is directly reacting to the situation. This article aims to explain each of those instances clearly so you can determine yourself just how deadly your ego is in your relationship…
How much do you like your partner?
It sounds silly to question how much you like your partner. You wouldn’t be with them if you didn’t like them, right?
Personal qualities and physical attributes go without saying; humans have an innate intuition as well as a logical assessment regarding those two factors. What I’m referring to here is how much you like your partner on a deep, subconscious level. In other words, are you with your partner because you share a deep connection and it actively adds to your external happiness, or are you with them to feel a more complete sense of self-worth? Humans have an inherent desire to feel loved so it’s not something that anyone should be ashamed to admit. It is worth thinking about in order to determine if you are going to experience real love and everlasting happiness with your partner.
How you ended up in your relationship plays a big part in how much you actually like your partner on an egoistic level, at least up to a point:
- Did your relationship blossom out of friendship?
- Did your partner approach you and instigate the whole process?
- Did it just sort of happen unexpectedly?
- Were you consciously looking for a romantic partner and they happened to be in the right place at the right time?
- Was the relationship a mutual and steady progression from the first meeting?
There are many cases of fulfilling and happy relationships stemming from each of these categories and none of them are invalid at all. Generally though, the more conscious and organically a relationship develops, the less ego there will be by default.
The truth is that the majority of relationships aren’t meant to be everlasting. Finding the perfect relationship for you is a long and arduous process if you are being completely honest with yourself about your values and desires. Even knowing this, the ego is to blame for keeping people in subpar relationships longer than they should. On a subconscious level, an ego in relation to pair-bonding makes a person feel like something will be missing from their life if they are single.
There is an old saying that states, “before you can learn to love, you must first love yourself” and this is completely true if we are talking about what is colloquially known as true love.
Ask yourself these questions if you are in a relationship: Could you live without your partner? Would you be just as content and happy if they weren’t in your life?
I love my girlfriend very much but I know that my internal happiness is controlled wholly by myself.
True love can only happen when a relationship is completely free of ego, so it is the perfect test of your relationship’s foundations. The paradox is that true love is quite easily created in the mind by the very thing that wants it to be sincere… your ego!
True love has no opposite and if you claim to be in love but still often feel emotions opposite to love, such as anger, frustration, contempt or even hatred – emotions that crop up over time as a couple become more complacent with each other and don’t feel the need to hide their egos anymore – then I would question the sincerity of that love. It may feel real to you but there are many instances where the ego tries to obscure the truth. The most common instance where the ego tricks the mind in relationships is regarding the validation one gets from being in love. These sorts of emotions are extremely addictive, hence why love is sometimes referred to as a drug.
Do you have a lot of arguments?
As I have mentioned before, most notably in the article Dealing with arguments in a relationship, the majority of arguments in a relationship are wholly ego-orientated. This means that they largely revolve around the ego’s desire to be right!
The next time you are in an argument with your partner – especially if you feel they are responsible for starting the argument – observe how defensive you become as you feel you are being emotionally attacked. You will almost certainly be able to feel the emotional energy building as you try to prove the other person is wrong to strengthen or justify your side of the argument.
One of the primary concepts I teach in getting attraction from people you meet is to be non-reactive. This is useful to bear in mind regarding relationships too as it embodies someone who is in control of their ego. Being non-reactive isn’t about being an emotionless robot. It means that when someone actively tries to get a reaction out of you, you are in complete, conscious control of how you react to it.
Arguments are ALL about inciting and reacting to each other but all arguments also require two egos to exist. That is why it only takes one person to actively repair a lot of the problems in a relationship, whereas other relationship experts might suggest it takes two. The reason for that fallacy is because the hardest time to keep your ego at bay is when you feel victimised and arguments are classic examples of that. The ego says, “Why should I make all the effort? Why should I get chastised? I’m giving as good as I get!”
Keeping that aspect of your ego in check takes constant work. Popular self-help author Eckhart Tolle talks about remaining present and disassociating with the past and future as a means to conquer the ego and this is essentially the same thing.
Although arguments feel like they are in the moment, the actual content always comes from past events or future decisions (recalled emotions and projected emotions respectively), both of which are created in the mind and both fuelled by the ego.
The more past experiences you have with someone, the more ammunition there is for arguments, so it actually takes more effort to control the ego the longer a relationship progresses.
This is why ego-centred people find it so hard to remain friends with ex-boyfriends or ex-girlfriends. The ego is reacting to past experiences with that person. Ask yourself if you have bad feelings towards any of your ex-partners and if so, ask yourself why you continue to attach negative emotions to something in the past. It is possible that you could be doing a similar thing with your current partner without evening knowing it!
Do you try to impress your partner?
Ideally, relationships should develop beyond the dating stages with a mutual progression of attraction, rapport and commitment. This is often not the case though and invariably there is always one person who is in a more ascendant role, with the other person vying for their approval.
In most cultures, during the dating phases of a relationship it is typically the male who acts as the pursuer – at least up until the relationship becomes sexual, where there is a distinct power-shift – and this sets men up to feel that they need to impress women, especially in the early stages. As long as you feel the need to do something, you will always feel dependant on the outcome, which ironically will actually play against you. This is the same in long-term relationships.
I love doing nice things for my girlfriend but they always come from a place of self-intention and I am definitely not dependant on Heidi’s reaction or approval.
In a sense, you have to stop judging yourself rather than judging your partner if you want to have an egoless, fulfilling relationship.
To summarise this article, the three main instances where the ego has an effect on a relationship are:
- Feeling loved and validated,
- Dealing with arguments,
- Trying to impress your partner.
With all this in mind, how much do you think YOUR ego plays a part in your relationship?