A recent theme has been surfacing in my office as of late: compromise in relationships.
We want (and yes, I’d be included in this generic “we”) to know that our partner will compromise with us. For many, this reflects trust, commitment to the relationship, and valuing your partner.
Meet me in the middle. 50/50. Do your part…so that I can do mine.
But there are some major issues with this whole “compromise” thing.
It is a conditional agreement between two people trying to get their needs met by the other.
I often see compromise lead to resignation.
Perhaps a person resigns to the idea that their partner simply has more needs than them and that they will just have to take the backseat when it comes to certain decisions.
Compromise also often leads to resentment.
This is because a win-lose situation isn’t a win at all. It’s more of an illusion. And if your relationship has become a win-lose competition, someone is ending up with the short end of the stick.
And that feels like losing.
And THAT can often lead to an insidious buildup of resentment towards the other person.
When people see compromise as “I have to give up a part of me for you”, it doesn’t exactly feel fair. In fact, it feels like a threat.
I often see millennials associate “compromise” with having to give up something you want so that someone else gets what they want.
This underlying assumption that relationships require giving up a part of your self is often at the root of commitment issues and the aversion/delay of marriage that many young people are choosing to have.
It is also incredibly different than the idea of learning to tolerate the anxiety of not getting your needs met, dealing with uncertainty, and learning to nurture and self-soothe yourself.
So, what if we changed things up a bit?
What if we practiced full acceptance of who our partner is and what they want or don't want, and learned to tolerate our own anxiety through that process rather than demand tit for tat?
What if we stopped giving up parts of our “self” in order to prove that we are compromise-pros, and stopped demanding that our partner owes us the same?
Our world would be very different if we rid relationships of the word “compromise” and replaced it with the concepts of personal accountability, relationship responsibility, mutual respect, and a win-win mindset.
I believe both people can come out winning.
It takes work, but it’s totally possible (I’ve experienced it myself!).
The truth is, once we begin to focus on developing our own personal power to create change, growth, and be the best kind of partner we can be, our relationship begins to change because of it. This is the paradox of a differentiated love [differentiation: A term widely used by therapists and coaches that observe relationships from a systemic model].
Focus on growing yourself, and watch your relationships begin to grow and flourish.
All it takes is two people who are putting effort into being their best selves and who truly want a fulfilling relationship.
When we get clear with ourselves about our relationship needs and values, we are able to give our partner what they want because we want that, too. We are able to take care of ourselves. We no longer employ our partner to take on that job.
So perhaps what I’m really trying to hit on here is a mindset shift.
This quote by Jim Rohn pretty much sums it up for me:
“I will take care of me for you, if you will take care of you for me. ”
So, what are your thoughts on compromise? Share in the comments!