When most of us think of compromise, we think of things like Rachel not going to Paris for Ross in Friends - giving something up for what we hope will be a better outcome. But it’s not all about dramatic scenes in airports. Compromise is something we have to do constantly in all kinds of relationships, and it can be crucial to developing closer connections with people.
As discussed in a previous blog, it’s important to feel comfortable being your authentic self in any close relationship, and compromise does not mean compromising this vulnerability. Rather healthy compromise actually facilitates open and honest communication, which makes it easier to be vulnerable and work through problems with our friends, partners, and families.
Healthy compromise is a delicate balance, though, between communicating with your person about your wants and needs, and maintaining the fundamental parts of yourself and your life.
Communication Is Key
If you’re feeling unsatisfied in a relationship and feel as though it might be time to make some changes, one of the first things you can do is determine your non-negotiables.
No one should have to give up everything they’re used to doing or having to make a relationship work, but it’s good to know which ones are most important to you. If your non-negotiables don’t match up, it could have an impact on your relationship moving forward.
It’s also likely that there will be things the other person does or enjoys that you may not understand. The more different you are in interests and personality, the more likely it is that the other person’s habits and routines may seem foreign to you. But, compromise is infinitely easier when you understand the other person’s perspective and, maybe more importantly, motivation.
If you don’t understand why your friend never accepts your invitations to parties, this could lead to you feeling frustrated, hurt, or angry. But, finding out that high-stakes social situations (like parties) are exhausting for them (or maybe even anxiety-inducing) will make it easier to understand their behaviour and feel less hurt by it. Then you can talk openly about other ways you can spend time together.
Continue to check in with each other to see if your arrangement is working for both of you and to ensure that neither of you are giving too much, or too little.
Compromise isn't always easy, but it can help you form deeper connections with your loved ones.
Ditch the Scoreboard
It’s important to go into any relationship with the understanding that compromise will not always be equal or easy. Sometimes, one person may be bending more than the other, and at times the compromise may be one-sided.
For example, maybe one person is especially busy with work or school this month, so the other picks up the slack for a while - maybe that means more cleaning if you usually split chores, or maybe you’re the one initiating most of the contact for a while. Or, one of you has friends visiting, so the other person spends more time going out than they’re usually prone to.
This is all a part of compromise: one-sided is okay sometimes, as long as the other person is willing to (and does) reciprocate in a similar situation.
At some point, you’ll probably be doing things that you don’t want to do, but keep in mind why you’re compromising and make sure you communicate, and it’ll be easier to ride the waves.
How Much is Too Much?
There may come a point where, for whatever reason, you just can’t compromise. Are you feeling like you’re not able to be yourself around the other person? Does it feel like you’re sacrificing important parts of yourself or your life for the sake of compromise? Do you feel like you’re not putting in equal effort?
Trust your intuition: if something doesn’t feel right, talk to the other person about it. Sometimes, compromise means stepping away from each other for a while, and giving each other space to recalibrate.
Another point where compromise may not be possible is when unhealthy habits are brought into a relationship. Unhealthy habits can range in severity, of course, but if the behaviours in question put anyone in danger, or if you feel unsafe at any point, prioritize yourself and step away from the relationship.
Practice Makes Perfect
Any kind of change is difficult at first, so compromise, no matter how big or small, can be a challenge to the best relationships. Be kind to yourself and the other person, and keep the lines of communication open and non-judgemental to make sure that you stay on the same page.
Knowing what you want is good, but being comfortable with the fact that things are constantly in flux is important. Ultimately, compromise comes down to this: stay honest, stay kind, and stay open.
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