I am sure most of you all have heard about the 80-20 rule that Tyler Perry referenced on his film Why Did I Get Married. Gavin, played by Malik Yoba, stated that in marriage you are only going to get 80% of what you need. “Then a woman comes along offering the 20% you aren’t getting, but you’re going to leave the 80 thinking you are getting something better, when you are really only going to get 20, Gavin said. If you haven’t seen the movie, I highly suggest you watch it after reading this of course!

However, Tyler Perry didn’t create this theory. It is actually called the Pareto Principle. The Pareto Principle comes from an observation by Vilfredo Federico Pareto that 80% of Italy’s wealth belonged to 20% of the population. He also noticed that 80% of his peas came from 20% of his pea pods. Based on this principle, 80 and 20 don’t have to equal 100. Quite different from Tyler Perry’s version, huh? If you are confused or lost, let me try to simplify it for you.

No one in this world is perfect, which means no relationship is perfect. The 80-20 rule supports this idea. The 80 in a relationship is composed of the diverse personalities and backgrounds each partner possesses as well as the love, respect and care they have for one another. The 80 also includes the common interests they share. The 20 comes from the fact that our partners are not clones of us and have flaws just like we do. Natalia Avdeeva from lovepanky.com states that 80% of all frustrations in a relationship are caused by just 20% of the problems. Now that’s a unique perspective.

It is so easy to magnify the 20 when the road is rocky and the seas are rough in the relationship. We start to question if something is missing or if we are indeed missing out on something. We start wondering if the grass is really greener on the other side. Someone may be a 20 if the following apply:

  • The connection is mainly about sex; if it seems too good to be true; if there isn’t much beyond a physical attraction
  • If the connection seems superficial; if both of you do not want the same thing
  • You can’t see that person fitting into your future.

After doing research on the 80-20 rule, I came across this article that gave a new twist to the rule. It states that 80% of the issues we have with others are our own internal battles. The other 20% are actual relationship issues. I loved this viewpoint because it holds us accountable for obstacles that happen instead of blaming the other person. This is reassuring because it lets us know we can actually do something about the quality of our relationships instead of thinking the answer is in dating someone else. Remember the grass is greener wherever you water and nurture it.

Ultimately, do not be consumed by the 80-20 rule or let it be the driving force in your relationship. I am not saying do not have boundaries and limitations because every relationship needs them, but don’t be ruled by this one. Some relationships could very well be 75-25 or 90-10. The 80-20 rule twist encourages us to pick and choose our battles. How much of our difficulty with our partner is in response to something else that has happened to us through experience? Reflect and think if this obstacle is a serious problem in your relationship or a personal one? 

Continue to focus on the positives in your partner when the road is rocky. Accentuate them and think about why you are with your partner in the first place. Also, model the partner you want your partner to be and be as receptive to change as you want your partner to be. Most importantly, be spontaneous! When you are going through a rough patch and both partners want to give effort to make it work, reinvent the dynamics of the relationship. Go out and have fun together. It is hard to focus on the negatives when you are having fun!

This observation on relationships are completely subjective. No rule can tell you what to do when it comes to your love life. The most important advice I can give is do not lose something that is workable for something that will probably never work!

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