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Is competition healthy in a relationship? Stacey Solomon on her and Joe's competitiveness

Joe Swash and Stacey Solomon attend the ITV Palooza 2019 at The Royal Festival Hall
Stacey Solomon and Joe Swash, who married last year, say being 'competitive' in their relationship 'makes it better'. (Getty Images)

Stacey Solomon made her return to Loose Women for the first time since December 2022 this week, and revealed an unusual detail about her and husband Joe Swash’s relationship.

On Wednesday 8 November, the Sort Your Life Out presenter, 34, appeared on the popular ITV show after an 11-month absence, during which she gave birth to her fifth child, daughter Belle.

Solomon and Swash, who are parents to six children in their blended family, have been married since 2022. Solomon has two children, Zach and Leighton, from a previous relationship, as well as son Rex and daughters Rose and Belle with Swash. Meanwhile, Swash has a teenage son, Harry, also from a previous relationship.

During her appearance on Loose Women, Solomon said she and Swash are “so competitive” in their relationship with one another.

“Mine and Joe’s relationship is so competitive, I love it,” she declared. Asked how they compete with one another, Solomon continued: “Oh, I don’t know. Who wipes their bum better? Literally anything! I love it, I live for it, it makes me excited about our relationship, I love that we are competitive with each other... It makes it better.”

While it might seem counter-intuitive to be at odds with your significant other, being competitive does have a place in strong, stable relationships.

However, relationship expert Hope Flynn, founder of FeedMeFemale and head of content at iPlaySafe, warns that there is a “thin line between competition being healthy and being taken too seriously”, so couples need to find the right balance to keep things even-spirited.

Competitiveness as motivation

Nia Williams, relationship therapist and life coach at Miss Date Doctor, says that competitiveness in a relationship can sometimes lead to “a deeper connection between partners”.

“It can also lead to a partner really evolving and improving in areas they never felt possible due to that extra push from their partner,” she explains. “When harnessed positively, competitiveness can be healthy. It often fosters motivation and shared goals, as couples encourage each other to grow and succeed, which is great. A bit of friendly competition can make life together exciting and enjoyable.”

A senior couple plays chess on their kitchen table, as the woman gestures and tells her husband a story and he smiles listening to her
'A bit of friendly competition can make life together exciting and enjoyable.' (Getty Images)

Flynn adds that there are plenty of fun ways to add competition to your relationship and “spice things up”.

“Playing to win against your other half could help to field your competitive fire and ideally heat up your relationship,” she suggests. “Building a sense of achievement and pride in partners leads you to having more fulfilled relationships as they are based off of respect and pride for one another.

“There’s nothing wrong with having some healthy competitive spirit in your relationship to help foster a sense of trust in one another’s abilities and achievements. It really can enable couples to feel more connected and supportive of each other.”

When competition gets ugly

Some people may be prone to getting overly competitive, and that’s when things might get complicated and messy, resulting in one or both parties feeling resentful of one another.

Williams warns: “[Being competitive] can be negative and lead to resentment if a partner feels their partner is copying them or being critical of them.

“It becomes problematic when it transforms into a negative force, leading to envy, resentment, or a sense of inadequacy. If winning at all costs starts to overshadow the fundamental values of love, respect and empathy, it’s time to reevaluate the dynamic. Remember that competition should enhance, not erode, the foundations of a healthy relationship.”

Couples that get overly competitive can become resentful of one another. (Getty Images)
Couples that get overly competitive can become resentful of one another. (Getty Images)

Hope says that when competition turns into a “battle”, it can have damaging effects on your relationship. She recommends setting boundaries to stop a “toxic environment” from manifesting.

“Like most things in life, relationships always come back down to communication, you must ensure that together you openly set clear boundaries and continue to motivate and inspire each other. Having healthy competition within a relationship is to create a strong support system, not opposition.”

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