Within the intricacy of our relationships, a subtle but powerful culprit lurks in the shadows, wreaking havoc on the delicate fabric of connection – the unrelenting need to be right. As we navigate the complexities of our interpersonal interactions, the compulsion to emerge as the victor in every debate or discussion can have profound and detrimental effects.

More and more we see this pervasive need penetrating into our social lives, our professional lives, and even our closest relationships including our marriages and family relationships! If you jokingly (or otherwise) refer to yourself as someone who always has to have the last word, then you might want to keep reading.

How the need to be right destroys relationships

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If you struggling with the need to be right all the time, then you’re going to struggle to connect with others.

1. The Battle of Ego

The relentless pursuit of correctness is often a manifestation of one’s desire to validate their intelligence, opinions, and self-worth. When this need to be right takes precedence over the value of our relationships, it sets the stage for conflict, as the desire to win becomes more important than fostering understanding and connection. This is why it never really feels good to “win” because in clinging tightly to your need to be right, you often lose the respect of others.

2. the Doors of Communication are slammed shut

Picture a scenario where every conversation transforms into a high-stakes debate. If you can’t, then just go online and spend 1 minute reading the comments (on ANY website). 🤦🏼‍♂️

The need to be right creates barriers to effective communication, shutting down understanding and compromise. When you prioritize being right over active listening and empathetic communication, the exchange of ideas devolves into a monologue of self-validation, leaving pretty much everybody feeling unheard and frustrated.

3. Undermines Trust and Connection

Trust is the glue that holds relationships together, and the need to be right erodes it at an alarming rate. Constantly striving to prove oneself correct often creates an atmosphere of skepticism and doubt. Not to mention tension, frustration, irritation, etc. People begin to question the value of the relationship, wondering whether their perspectives are genuinely valued or merely seen as challenges to be overcome.

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Do you always have to have the last word? Then your need to be right is probably ruining your relationships.

4. It kills Emotional Intimacy

Emotional intimacy thrives on vulnerability, understanding, and shared experiences. When the need to be right takes center stage, vulnerability is replaced by a shield of correctness. The fear of being perceived as wrong stifles the emotional authenticity required for genuine connection. As a result, relationships become superficial, lacking the depth that arises from shared vulnerabilities and mutual acceptance.

5. Personal Growth becomes elusive

Ironically, the relentless pursuit of being right can impede personal growth. Growth ultimately emerges from a willingness to learn from mistakes and engage in constructive self-reflection. When the need to be right prevails, this vital aspect of personal development and self-reflection is stifled, hindering the potential for individuals to evolve and mature within the context of their relationships.

In the landscape of our society, the need to be right is a subtle, yet destructive force that undermines connection and growth. It’s an insidious saboteur that jeopardizes communication, erodes trust, and stifles emotional intimacy.

Life is hard. Trying to be right all the time makes it a lot more challenging. If you feel like any of this feels familiar, or you’ve been accused of having to be right all the time, find an awesome therapist you like and trust to help you uncover the underlying issues driving these damaging behaviors so you can start living a life filled with more peace and harmony.

James Killian, LPC is the Principal Therapist & Owner of Arcadian Counseling in Greater New Haven, CT where they specialize in helping over-thinkers, high achievers, and perfectionists reduce stress, increase fulfillment and enhance performance so they can move From Surviving To Thriving.