I am worried that I am losing myself in my relationship. I often find myself accepting things I do not want, despite craving independence. I know what I want for myself but those things don’t always align with what my partner wants, so I sacrifice things I know are meaningful to me, leaving me feeling empty and resentful. How can I best be in a relationship without compromising everything that is important to me? Where can I draw the line? How much compromise is too much compromise?
Dear Losing myself,
I wish we were sitting over a cuppa and talking so I could ask you some questions. Why do you accept things you don’t want? You don’t say. Is it too exhausting to keep demanding things for yourself? Does your partner not want you to be independent? Have you grown accustomed to a certain level of dependency, be it emotional, financial, logistical, practical? Does your partner sacrifice his wants in equal measure (though not necessarily in equivalent fashion)? Do you not agree on what is meaningful? Does he dismiss what you find meaningful as not deserving of the meaning you ascribe? I am asking those questions literally, not rhetorically. Think about each of them and note down your answers. Be fair to yourself and to your partner, both. Try to be brutally honest with yourself (a habit which is ultimately an act of self care).
You ask me how to be best in a relationship without compromising everything that is important to you, and I answer that the way to do that is to only be in a relationship where such sacrifices would never be expected or accepted. You can draw the line at exactly the point where your still small voice from within tingles with unease. We always know when we are being asked to sacrifice too much of ourselves, even though too many of us too frequently disregard that voice. Too much compromise is compromise which is no longer feels authentic and sincere. Too much compromise is compromise which feels like being bullied into an action. Too much compromise is compromise which over time and consistently favors the well being of another over the well being of one’s self.
Do you know that I have never asked my children to apologize for their wrongdoings. And when I hear others say to their children, “APOLOGIZE!” it churns in my stomach. You know why? Because there is very little as meaningful as a sincere and well-timed apology. The art of knowing when and how to apologize is rare and precious and it was critically important to me that my children understood that. Because forcing a person to apologize to make you comfortable is bullying someone into being something they are not, or into feeling something they don’t feel. And it’s ultimately worthless. We are all energetic beings and its most likely that demanded apology meant nothing to the other anyway because they knew it was insincere. Further, you have every likelihood of repeating the same mistake upon that person or another, because you didn’t understand, think, or accept that what you did was wrong.
I feel that way about compromise. It’s not compromise if it doesn’t feel sincere and if it isn’t given with a whole heart. At least in a love relationship. This isn’t geopolitics where sometimes you just got to get the thing through by whatever means necessary. This is your actual, real, life. The only one you get in this body. No one knows you as well as you know you, and no one knows how you feel the way that you know how you feel. You can only compromise if it actually feels like it is a two-way street. It has to feel like your partner is compromising too. Otherwise, it’s just you doing what he/she wants over your misgivings and clearly stated preferences, and that isn’t compromise. That’s bullying.
Report back if you have further illuminating information. I wish you well.
Peace, love, joy,