Dr Jozelle Miller
January 19, 2016
80/20 rule applied to relationships

The 80/20 rule, also referred to as the Pareto principle, is the observation (not law) that most things in life are not distributed evenly. The principle was very profoundly used in the popular hit movie “Why did I get married?” where it was used to explain the tendency of persons to leave the 80 per cent satisfaction they find in their romantic partners to seek out that elusive 20 per cent, which they believe allows the garden to appear greener on the other side of the proverbial fence.{{more}}

The keen desire and push towards the endless search for that missing 20 per cent you’d hoped for in your mate leads many people to cheat. Why do people feel like the 80 per cent isn’t enough for them? Why do they want the other 20 per cent so very badly?

What relationship experts and many social psychologists who have studied relationships would like to present is that no one is perfect and a couple are usually two different individuals with diverse backgrounds and personalities. But if you’re well matched, you’re both respectful of each other, loving, and share a lot of the same interests – this is the 80 per cent.

Usually this looks like everything to you at the beginning of your relationship, but with time, the fact that your partner is not an identical reflection of yourself becomes more apparent. It becomes glaring if you happen to meet someone who catches your attention for one or various reasons. It could be because they are more attractive than your partner, more domestic, more intelligent, or love to wine and dine same as you, while your spouse or partner prefers to remain at home. Bottom-line, there is that one thing your partner lacks which this new person fulfills – this is the 20 per cent. In that instant of realizing you share something with this new person that you’ve probably been missing for a while, it is easy to forget all the good things you already share with your partner, and quickly conclude that this person is your SOUL MATE.

The one you’ve been looking for all your life. If you don’t sit down and think clearly about things, your current relationship may be over. Some say for men, the missing 20 per cent is usually sex, and time and attention or money for women. But it could be anything.

Common mistakes made:

o Why can’t I get what I want? The thought that there is always something missing and not taking the time to appreciate and developing what exists.

o Accepting responsibility: Desist from casting all blame on your partner, but figure out your contribution to the problems.

o Be willing to work: Many times persons jump ship at the first sign of rough waters. It is important to stay focused and committed for the long haul.

o Trying to fix what isn’t broken: Remember each relationship is unique with its own dynamics. Desist from looking at what you think exists in your friend’s relationship. You may not be seeing what lurks in the corners of their homes.

Bear in mind we don’t always need what others have….Create your own happiness. Love your 80 per cent and it can become 100 per cent.

Dr Miller is Health Psychologist at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital.