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Better Partner Assertion

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"'Cause I'm better than him
Just saying"
5 Seconds of Summer, "Just Saying"

Ah, love. It can be a finicky thing, especially when characters find themselves in a Love Triangle... or think they're in one. While there are many ways a character tries to solve their little triangle, this is when one character makes an assertion that they are better than their rival.

Sometimes this assertion will come as a long-winded speech of examples, other times it'll be one short statement such as a simple "I'm better than him". Another version is when a character insists on things they wouldn't do to their partner that their rival does do. Expect to see these statements in Betty and Veronica and other opposite personality situations.

Don't think that this trope is limited to only one character; sometimes both (or all, depending on the number) suitors will use this argument as a way to convince the person they're pining after to choose them. The argument may escalate into a Cock Fight (or Cat Fight) if the potential suitors are persistent enough. Characters who aren't a love interest but perceive themselves as one, such as the Stalker with a Crush, Prince Charming Wannabe, the Mad Love, or the Self-Proclaimed Love Interest can also be expected to assert their romantic superiority, only for it to fall on deaf ears.

The truthfulness of these assertions can range from the absolute truth to Blatant Lies. Sometimes, it doesn't matter, as the success rate tends to be low or even impossible, as is the case with a Seduction-Proof Marriage. Maybe Charlie is the Hopeless Suitor trying to convince Alice to leave Bob for him, or Alice simply gets tired of their constant pleas and dates David instead. Sometimes Bob and Charlie will convince each other and leave Alice behind.

Usually a source of drama or tension, but this trope can be Played for Laughs if the reasons given are way out in left field or if the situation is presented in a comedic way, such as the "rival" being a celebrity or a fictional character. A character who is Entitled to Have You may use this tactic first before progressing to either If I Can't Have You? or Murder the Hypotenuse.

Compare Cock Fight, which is the physical escalation of this trope, and What's He Got That I Ain't Got?!, which may be used as part of the assertion. Sister trope to Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better, where the two characters argue directly with each other over their abilities. Contrast with the Insecure Love Interest, who believes the object of their affection would be better off without them. Not to be confused with Always Someone Better, when a character is truly better at an activity than another character.

If it's the audience making statements about which love interest is superior, then it's likely a case of Fan-Preferred Couple or Ship-to-Ship Combat.


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    Anime & Manga 

  • SPY?FAMILY has a different spin on the trope. The protagonists, Loid Forger and Yor Briar, enter a Marriage of Convenience so they can both keep their covers as a spy and and assassin respectively, and they constantly remind themselves that their marriage is nothing but a ruse even though they're developing genuine affection for each other (and for their adopted daughter Anya). Enter Fiona Frost, one of Loid's spy understudies, who tries to get Yor out of the picture by convincing Loid that she would play much better the role of Loid's "fake" wife for the sake of the mission. In truth, Fiona is in love with Loid and wants to be his real wife, and when her first attempt to show Yor up fails, she resorts to exploiting Yor's insecurities.

    Fan Works 
  • With This Ring: When she's under the combined influence of the Star Sapphire encouraging her romantic feelings for Paul, and Karfang's gas attack intensifying her avarice and selfishness, Zatanna attempts to persuade Paul to dump his girlfriend and date her instead, pointing out that Jade doesn't have anything really notable about her except that she was available when Paul was looking. (If Zatanna were several years older and not under clearly visible Mind Control at the time, he might even have found her persuasive.)

    Films — Animation 
  • In the climax of Beauty and the Beast, Gaston tauntingly asks the Beast if he really thought Belle would want to be with him "when she had someone like me?" — which would be Blatant Lies if the Beast had had any way of observing, given Belle has already soundly rejected Gaston — and declares that "Belle is mine!" This ends up enraging the Beast enough that he nearly throws Gaston off the castle roof, only to end up sparing him when he pleads for his life.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Bandits: Part of the ongoing feud between Joe and Terry involves Terry arguing that he is better than Joe because he is smart, sensitive, and "a lot of other things". Surprisingly, Kate ends up choosing them both.
  • Cool as Ice: Following a conversation with Kathy and her stick-in-the-mud boyfriend Nick, Johnny tells her (right in front of Nick, no less) that she should, "Drop that zero, and get with the hero." It elicits a genuinely amused laugh from her.
  • Moonstruck: Even before realizing he's attracted to Loretta, Ronny lambasts her for choosing to marry his brother Johnny, since Johnny inadvertently caused Ronny to lose his hand in an accident years before and they are clearly marrying each other for convenience rather than love. He claims he is the better option because he actually wholeheartedly loves her.
  • Ocean's Eleven: Upon leaving prison after five years incarcerated, Danny returns to his ex-wife Tess and tries to convince her that he's a better fit for her than her new boyfriend, Terry Benedict. He's unsuccessful.
    Danny: Does he make you laugh?

  • In the Mormon backstory of the Sherlock Holmes debut novel A Study in Scarlet, the two young men who wish to add Lucy to their respective harems both call to try to convince her and her father to select one of them. They get into a sparring match of this sort, each pointing out why he would be the better choice. Lucy is not impressed with either of them and intends to Take a Third Option. It ends tragically.
  • The Twilight Saga: In Eclipse, Jacob repeatedly tells both Bella and Edward that he thinks he would be a better romantic option for Bella. He cites the following reasons: Bella wouldn't have to give up her human life and become a 'monster' to be with him, they could be intimate without having to constantly worry about Jacob accidentally killing her due to bloodlust, Edward is the first and only boyfriend she's ever had so she can't know for definite he's 'the one', that her love for Edward is more like a drug addiction than anything, and that he made Bella happy again after Edward broke her heart in New Moon.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Played for Laughs in the song "Settle for Me" in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Greg tries to convince Rebecca to choose him over Josh, even though she's madly in love with Josh. Greg's argument? He's not what she wants but close enough, and he's the one actually paying attention to her.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Implied in the "Fugitive of the Judoon" episode, where Allan (who has feelings for Ruth who is Happily Married to Lee) has the words "You Could Do Better" iced on her birthday cake.
    • A (debatably) non-romantic example occurs in "School Reunion". When the Doctor's current companion Rose Tyler meets former companion Sarah Jane Smith, they both become deeply insecure — Rose is upset to learn that the Doctor has had many companions and left them behind, while Sarah Jane feels her age because Rose is so much younger than her (it doesn't help that the Doctor's tenth regeneration is also extremely young). The women eventually get into a verbal sparring match by bringing up the various monsters and adventures they've met on their travels, each trying to prove that they're the superior companion and friend to the Time Lord. Sarah Jane wins by citing "The Loch Ness Monster," which Rose finds amazing.
  • House of Anubis: When Jerome finds out that his crush, Mara, is trying to do long-distance with Mick, who he has a low opinion of, he brings up flaws like Mick being "a meathead" and living in a different country. She argues back that he's sweet and trying hard to make the long-distance thing work, and Jerome begrudgingly accepts, but tells her that if she does decide to date him it might be too late since has girls just "lining up".
  • How I Met Your Mother: In Season 5, Robin is dating her co-worker, Don, and she wants him to meet her friends. But when Don finds out that she's still friends with her two exes, Barney and Ted, he finds it confusing though he does invite them for dinner. Turns out that both Barney and Ted still have feelings for Robin and they argue about who should get to be with Robin until they get drunk. They crash into Don's place still drunk, much to Robin's embarrassment, especially with Ted who re-stole the blue French horn.
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: Done very subtly in the season 20 episode "Mea Culpa." Rollins, pregnant with her second child by a guy she was seeing casually, talks with Carisi over lunch about Dr. Al's recent suggestion they move in together. Carisi is unimpressed, mostly because Al is a serial cheater and has shown little desire for commitment. He asks if Al intends to propose, and no, he does not. Carisi tells Rollins she deserves to be happy and taken care of. When she insists that Al does take care of her, he says there's a difference between "flowers and fancy-ass dinners and being taken care of." He then immediately tells her he's going to get her a ginger ale, to help with the indigestion she's been having after eating.
  • Outlander: After finding out that Jamie and Claire have married, Laoghaire MacKenzie attempts to break them up, believing she is the better choice to be Jamie's wife. Her reasons include: being Scottish like Jamie instead of English like Claire (at a time when the English and the Scottish were conflicting), having known Jamie since they were kids, that he once kissed Laoghaire, and he once took a punishment on her behalf. Her insistence tips into Yandere with her putting ill-wish voodoo dolls under the couple's marital bed, attempting to entice Jamie into breaking his marriage vows, and arranging to have Claire arrested for witchcraft.
  • Port Charles: When Ellen's current boyfriend Matt meets Sebastian, her ex, the men try to prove their superiority to her by bringing up their accomplishments.
  • An episode of Power Rangers Wild Force has Danny discovering that Kendall, the girl he's in love with, is already dating a snobbish rich guy named Colin. Both of them accidentally see him morph and discover his identity as a Ranger, and Colin directly tells Danny upfront that he can leave Kendall to him because he (Danny) will never be able to give her the life she deserves if he's busy "saving the world". It's all but stated that Kendall ends up dumping him later due to this attitude, as she goes to root for Danny during the following battle against the Monster of the Week while leaving Colin rambling about how he's a much better prospect than Danny for her.
  • In the 2008 version of Sense and Sensibility Marianne has two suitors: the older, reliable Colonel Brandon and the dashing flirt (and secretly a rake) John Willoughby. Brandon is suspicious...
    Willoughby: Well, then, let me ask you this... What are your intentions with regard to her?
    Brandon:Whatever they are, they are entirely honourable. Can you say the same thing?
    Willoughby: I cannot be blamed if Marianne prefers my company to yours. We are closer in age, in temperament, in taste, in short, in everything. I commiserate with you, but there it is. And to answer your question, yes, of course my intentions are entirely honourable.
  • Worzel Gummidge: In one episode, Worzel can't decide if he wants to marry Aunt Sally or Dolly Clothespeg since he's equally in love with both. Each woman tries to claim she's better because she can do something (bake a cake, stand like a mannequin, etc.) only for the other woman to claim the same.

  • 5 Seconds of Summer's song "Just Saying" is about the lead singer telling a girl that he would be a better boyfriend than her current one for reasons such as: her friends like him more, he wouldn't make her pay for dates, her boyfriend still lives with his mom, and her boyfriend is cheating on her.
  • Implied In Alanis Morissette's Break-Up Song "You Oughta Know", she compares herself favorably to her ex's new flame and tries to make him regret his decision by e.g. asking if the new girl would go down on him in a theater like she did.
  • Avril Lavigne's "Girlfriend" is about a girl asserting that she would be a superior girlfriend to the one the guy she likes is currently seeing.
  • The Beatles's "This Boy" is from the perspective of a man trying to tell an ex that he cares about her feelings more than their new significant other does.
    Oh, and this boy would be happy
    Just to love you, but oh my,
    That boy won't be happy,
    'Til he's seen you cry.
    This boy
    Wouldn't mind the pain,
    Would always feel the same,
    If this boy gets you back again.
  • Backstreet Boys' "All I Have to Give," which asks Armor Piercing Questions about all the things your current boyfriend isn't doing that they'd definitely be willing to do if you'd give them a chance.
    When you talk (when you talk)
    Does it seem like he's not
    Even listening to a word you say?
    That's okay baby, just tell me your problems
    I'll try my best to kiss them all away
    Does he leave (does he leave)
    When you need him the most?
    Does his friends get all your time?
    Baby, please, I'm on my knees
    Praying for the day that you'll be mine
  • Dove Cameron's "Boyfriend" is about the singer asserting to a girl that she would be a better, more attentive partner for her than her boyfriend.
    I don't need to tell you twice
    All the ways he can't suffice
    If I could give you some advice
    I would leave with me tonight
  • The Chicks "I Can Love You Better" (which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin) and "There's Your Trouble," in which the "trouble" is that the singer's crush is infatuated with the girl who left him and not her.
  • Confession Executive Committee: The LIP×LIP song "Judge" has both singers do this. Using a very thinly veiled metaphor of a judge and a court, the two singers each bring up their strengths and assert that they'll be the partner that will make their love interest happy. The "judge" is apparently not convinced enough, and the song ends with the singers still making their cases to higher and higher courts.
  • "Treated Bad Again" by Europe is from the POV of a man whose female friend keeps taking back her awful boyfriend no matter how many times he breaks her heart, telling her she needs to stop doing that to herself and find someone new. In the last verse, he finally admits to being attracted to her himself, making it clear which "someone" he has in mind.
  • The song "Canada" by UK indie rock band The Field Mice has the narrator confessing his love to a girl and asserting that the man she's seeing now doesn't actually love her.
  • Mario Vasquez's "Gallery" has him arguing that he would be much better for the girl he likes than her current boyfriend who doesn't appreciate her and is implied to be cheating on her.
  • The Ninja Sex Party song "Dragon Slayer" has Danny singing to a woman about how he's better than her other suitors because, in addition to outdoing the other guys in their own fields, he killed a dragon. And he's totally not making any of it up.
  • One Direction:
    • "I Would" has a boy yearning over an already-taken girl (despite feeling he can't compete with the guy she's currently dating) and the chorus is all about how he'd treat her more romantically than her boyfriend.
    • "Save You Tonight" is from the perspective of a boy talking to a girl who's having her heart broken by a Casanova and asking her to let him "save" her by taking his place.
  • Panic! at the Disco uses this argument in "Lying Is the Most Fun a Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off", where the singer compares himself against any other guy, putting himself on top.
    I've got more wit
    A better kiss
    A hotter touch, a better fuck
    Than any boy you'll ever meet
  • Pussy Cat Dolls' "Don't Cha" is about the singer(s) saying how she would make a better girlfriend than the one the listener currently has; being, among other things, "hotter" and more "fun" compared to her.
  • The Sugarland song, "Stay" is about a mistress begging her married lover to stay with her instead of his wife. She says that his wife "can't love [him] like me" and that "we don't have to live this way" as he assures the mistress that he'll leave his wife for her in due time. But the song is ultimately a subversion, as the mistress becomes tired of being used and declares that "you can't give me what I need" before leaving him.
  • Shawn Mendes' song "Treat You Better" is entirely about how he would be a better boyfriend than the girl's current boyfriend.
  • Spin Doctors song "Two Princes" is a slight variation; both "princes" adore the girl in question, and the other is richer, has better prospects, is approved of by the girl's father, and so on; but still earnestly predicts that the singer would be a better choice than the other fellow.
  • In Taylor Swift's song "You Belong With Me", she sings to the boy how she would be a better girlfriend than his current one because she understands him better.
    If you could see that I'm the one
    Who understands you
    Been here all along
    So, why can't you see?
    You belong with me.
  • Inverted and delightfully parodied in Tim Minchin's "If I Didn't Have You", which explains cheerfully that yes, he does love his wife, and yes, she does make his life better, but all the same "If I didn't have you, someone else would do...", with additional lyrics to point out that they're one in a million, but statistically speaking, at least some of the other 999,999 possible partners would be at least as good.

  • Aspects of Love: Alex and George spend a whole song asserting that the other would be the better partner for Rose, ignoring the rest of the Love Dodecahedron.
  • Legally Blonde: In "What You Want", Elle argues that she is better than the boring east coast girl Warner wants because she can be fun, beautiful, smart, AND serious.
  • A retroactive example in Six: The Musical where Jane Seymour continues to insist she was Henry's best wife and the only one he loved because she gave him a son, and was willing to stay by his side stoically despite his behavior.
  • Sweeney Todd: After Todd discovers that the beggar woman he just killed was his wife Lucy, he confronts Mrs. Lovett, who implied that she killed herself with poison. Mrs. Lovett, who's had feelings for Todd throughout the musical, tells him she'd be much better for him and asks if they can still be together. Todd throws her in her oven.

    Video Games 
  • Dragon Age II: During the Legacy DLC, If Hawke is in a relationship with Fenris, Anders will ask Hawke if they're sure about him; further asking if they would want someone more open-minded, referring to himself.
  • Resident Evil 6: The third fight against Simmons has a moment where he argues that Leon isn't worthy of Ada and offers himself as the better, more worthy candidate — ignoring that she's already told him no multiple times.

    Visual Novels 
  • Kissed by the Baddest Bidder: On Eisuke's route, Takahiro tries to get the main character to date him by asserting he would never make her feel abandoned like Eisuke was doing at that moment. Because this is an otome game, it's a Foregone Conclusion she won't dump Eisuke for Takahiro.
  • Shall We Date Love Tangle: With the premise being love triangles, this happens a few times...
    • In Cody's route, he and Ryan are arguing when Ryan catches the main character's eye. Facing her, he claims that he would make her happier than his brother, which shocks her. It turns out Ryan was just helping Cody with lines for his new role.
    • Nolan's route: After coming home from a formal party where Nolan introduces the main character as his girlfriend to his father to get him off his back, Miguel tells her that he would never make her upset or use her like Nolan has. Then, he follows it up with What's He Got That I Ain't Got?!

    Western Animation 
  • The Smurfs: In "Romeo and Smurfette", the male Smurfs all fall in love with Smurfette. Papa Smurf tries to claim he's the best because if they get married she'll be "Mama Smurf", while Handy and Hefty sing songs about how they'd be the ideal love interest.