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7 Reasons You Shouldn't Envy Other Couples

Understand what goes on behind other twosomes' closed doors, so you'd realize how good you have it--and not feel the need to compare your union to theirs.

William and Kate. Brad and Angelina. Derek and Angelica. Your BFF and her perfect boyfriend.

You see another couple and you can’t help it: You wonder what their sex life is like, how they act at home, and if they’re really that in love. Part of you is just plain curious, but another part of you is dying to know how your union stacks up to theirs.

“It’s human nature to compare yourselves to other couples or use them as a benchmark,” says Cooper Lawrence, host of a US relationship radio program The Cooper Lawrence Show.

“You can learn valuable lessons from the way friends conduct their relationships. But problems arise when assumptions you make—good or bad—are off. This erroneous info then affects how you view and approach your own bond.”

That’s why it’s essential to understand what really goes on behind other people’s closed doors. This knowledge can give you a better perspective about your own love life and even help you realize just how good you have it. Here, what you need to know about most couples.

1. They’re often trying to live up to your expectations.

In every social circle, there’s that couple. You know, one of those dynamic duos who seem so in sync, so interesting, so crazy in love with each other. And unless you’re too jealous to say so, you’ve probably let them know just how fabulous you think they are.

End result: “The couple may try extra hard to be that amazing because they like who they become around you or because they don’t want to let you down,” says psychologist Robert Phillips, PhD, director of the Center for Coping. Experts call it social motivation—the knowledge of how others perceive us influences our behavior.

Unfortunately, this OA style can be discouraging to those looking in. “You may feel sub par compared to the wonder team, like you’re not as compatible as you should be,” warns relationship expert John Townsend, PhD.

Take Jessica, 29. “My friend and her fiance were buddies for years before they became a couple, so they totally get each other,” she says. “When my guy and I come home from a night with them, I pick fights with him. I think I’m angry that we’re not close like my friends are and worry that it means we’re in trouble.”

Here’s what you need to remember: When alone, that “perfect couple” is pretty ordinary. “The supercloseness may not be part of their usual rapport,” says Townsend. “They could be in top form with you; the rest of the time, they most likely have the same issues every other partnership does.” So don’t hold yourselves up to an unrealistic standard.

2. Touchy-feely twosomes may have something to hide.

They can’t keep their damn hands off each other, and you get the sense this pawing pair is surveying the room for a dark corner where they can do the deed. But looks can be deceiving—according to experts, the more they make out or baby talk in public, the less bonded they may be.

“A couple that gets that physical in front of others is likely covering for a lack of intimacy at home,” explains Linda Olson, PsyD, a New Canaan, Connecticut, clinical psychologist specializing in dating. “As a relationship grows, exaggerated affection may be masking feelings of inadequacy.”

Also, don’t assume a hands-off duo has problems. “They may just want to keep their intimate moments private,” says Townsend. As long as they’re not recoiling from each other, chances are, they’re a normal couple who knows there are some things people don’t want to see.

3. Her guy knows your secrets.

When you tell your best friend that you slept with your boss and she swears she won’t tell a soul, you probably think that means no one. Oh, wait, you meant not to say anything to her boyfriend either? If he’s outside your social circle, she may not think he counts.

Your friend isn’t intentionally betraying your trust though—she’s just trying to bond with him and bring their worlds together. “She thinks the more she reveals about her friends, the more her guy will feel he knows them,” says Lawrence. “In a way, she’s asking her beau to care about you as much as she does.”

If you have a problem with your friend blabbing, you need to lay down the law. “Before you tell her anything secret, make a point of stating that you don’t want her guy to hear about this or you’ll feel betrayed,” says Phillips. Unless you specify, she might assume you know she’s going to tell him.

4. There’s a flip side to all relationships.

Okay, you might be jealous that your friend’s engagement ring is so big and brilliant, it causes momentary blindness. But those things often come at a cost...and we’re not talking about the price tag. “Every relationship has its upsides and downsides,” says Phillips. “Maybe your friend’s beau makes a lot of money, but it could also mean that he is never home or is work-obsessed.”

When you’re feeling envious of her perks, it helps to consider the possible sacrifices that may have been made for them. Who knows? If given the choice, your buddy might gladly trade her fancy things for quality time with her guy.

On the other hand, perhaps you have a friend who’s blissful with a dude you think is a loser. But even though he may lack ambition, he could be completely devoted to her. “What works for one person in a relationship might not work for someone else, so you can’t judge,” explains Phillips. “You never know what goes on in their private moments, but something keeps them together.”

5. Her sexcapades are the exception.

After being with her guy for three years, Suzanne, 32, had accepted that their sex life was not as hot as it once was. “I thought that was normal, until a friend went into detail about the kinky stuff she and her boyfriend recently did. I started thinking na corny kami if other couples had super mega hot sex on a regular basis!”

Does this scenario sound a little close to home? If so, take heart—a friend probably only mentions a crazy sex story because it’s a special, maybe even rare, occurrence. “If it happened a lot, it wouldn’t be worth sharing,” says Phillips. “She may not believe it herself.”

Of course, some people just like to brag. “Your friend might enjoy the shock value of sharing something like that and may even be exaggerating,” says Lawrence. “The sex could have been hotter than usual, but not as wild as she made it seem.”

Now if you’re feeling a bit green, take it as a cue that you might need to step things up in your own lust life. “Rather than wishing that you and your guy were pushing your sexual boundaries as well, just resolve to do it,” says Lawrence. Then you’ll be the one bragging about your erotic antics on girls’ night.

6. Bickering couples are actually close.

It certainly sucks to spend an evening with a squabbling couple. And while you’re suffering through the awkward, nerve-wracking situation, feeling bad for this seemingly doomed pair, the truth is, they’re probably A-OK.

Bickering is usually a sign that a two-some is still emotionally involved, that they actually care enough about each other to hash out a problem, rather than keeping their mouths shut,” says Lawrence. They also trust that a little tiff won’t derail their relationship.

Bickering, of course, is different from really going at each other. A couple might squabble over petty incidents, like making a wrong turn while driving. When a couple fights, though, they’re dealing with bigger issues they have. Still, even that isn’t so bad. “There’s nothing wrong with disagreeing as long as they resolve things and communicate in a respectful way,” says Olson. “If a duo never argues, it means they’re keeping things bottled up and don’t have the relationship skills to fix them.”

7. Everyone has doubts sometimes.

Anyone who plasters a smile on her face and tells you that she never questions her relationship is a freakin’ liar! We all second-guess our unions, even if we don’t say so out loud.

“For a month after I got engaged, I was having minor panic attacks,” remembers Melanie, 27. “I knew I wanted to marry him, but I kept asking myself if I could live with certain qualities for the rest of my life. But when I asked my married friends if they ever had doubts, they all said no, so I was afraid to admit to my concerns.”

Thing is, these kinds of doubts can actually help your relationship along. “You need to take stock every now and then to make sure that you’re really happy, instead of just going through the motions,” says Townsend. “It’ll either reassure you of just how good things are or you may decide that things could be better, in which case you can take steps to improve the relationship.”

So if you occasionally have reservations, cut yourself some slack—you’re not alone. Experts agree that the best relationships are flawed and imperfect, with their own unique problems. Yep, even that couple has bad days, but for most twosomes, the highs and lows just make their bonds even stronger.

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