For most of our lives we search and search for the “perfect” partner. Movies and books aid and abet us in persuing this magical human being…feeding us bullshit lines like, “you complete me.” Let’s start talking about reality here, people…. perfect is a myth.
No one is perfect. You aren’t perfect. I’m not perfect. Perfect doesn’t exist. The goal instead should be finding someone who complements you and what you bring to the table. A relationship with the right person will be smooth sailing most of the time. You will bring out the best in one another and fill in one another’s gaps.
So, since perfect doesn’t exist…how much should you compromise when looking for “the one”?
Compromise is great in small doses – turning down the TV while the other person talks on the phone or seeing a movie that isn’t your first choice because your partner likes it. These compromises do not threaten to our core needs, wants, or deepest desires—the reasons we got into a relationship in the first place.
It is when we start compromising who we are that the cracks in the foundation of relationship start to show.
A healthy relationship will affirm who each partner is and allow each person to meet his or her needs together with the other. A lesser relationship demands that one or both partners change in a deep and meaningful way to meet the needs of the other, which compromises one or both of the persons involved.
This may seem obvious, but it is hard to keep this in mind when in the throes the beginning infatuation stages of a relationship when you’re willing to give up anything and everything to be with the other person and you don’t really realize the costs of what you’re giving up. (The same thing can happen at the end of a relationship, when you push all the pain down and promise the world if only the other person will give you another chance.)
And sometimes these incompatibilities and compromises aren’t even apparent early in the relationship—maybe they don’t come to the surface until you’ve moved in together. But once they do manifest themselves, they cannot, and should not, be ignored, not if the relationship is going to last (if it even should).
Looking back I can identify numerous times when I went along with things I didn’t want to try and make a relationship work. The incredibly frustrating thing to think about is that in hindsight, I knew darn well that I shouldn’t have compromised my ideals, things I liked or wanted for the other person. It was just asking too much…but I went along to get along…until. Until I realized that it was baloney…that I couldn’t take it another minute and finally wised up. It frustrates me even now to think about those times and how I wasn’t true to myself. All you can do is learn from these times and wise up enough to stick to your laurels with the next one who comes along.
The bottom line: Little compromises are natural and unavoidable, but ABSOLUTELY DO NOT give up too much of what is important to you for the sake of a relationship. Good relationships don’t require you to lose yourself. Good relationships bring out the best in each person.
What have you compromised in past relationships? What would you never compromise again?
Photo credit: Denise Mayumi’s Flickr photostream