Healthy relationships are based on several components: giving and taking, compromising, sharing, respecting, understanding and caring.
But there are certain aspects of a relationship that should never be compromised, and that is your self-respect.
The choices you make affect your sense of self and your relationships with others. If you are always willing to please and sacrifice for your partner, you will lose who you are and who you can become. You diminish your self –esteem and prevent yourself from reaching your full potential – as an empowered partner in your developing relationship.
Start your relationship knowing that you have rights. You, your partner and everyone else, all deserve the same things. They are:
1. The right to think what you think
2. The right to feel what you feel
3. The right to want what you want
4. The right to say NO
When you say NO to something that doesn’t feel right, you are saying YES to acknowledging yourself and letting in a more loving, supportive experience.
The best thing to do is be flexible whenever possible, but always maintain the values that are very important to you.
So while compromise is an important quality in successful relationships, never compromise who you are for the sake of anyone else. Keep your integrity and the standards that you live by, so you won’t feel put upon or diminished by a new partner. Honor yourself by thinking independently and enjoying your own perceptions and opinions. Live authentically, speaking and acting from your own convictions and values.
Your life is yours to control.
Continue growing and learning from your relationships and experiences. Your depth of character and personality make you who you are, and they are impacted constantly by the deep and meaningful relationship you develop. Therefore, make sure your relationships are based on trust, respect, kindness, caring and appreciation.
In this way, the love you give and the love you receive will only enhance who you are and make you a more interesting and complete person.
Amy Sherman, M.A., LMHC – www.yourbabyboomersnetwork.com
Relationships are all about compromise, but there are some things that you don’t feel comfortable giving up, even for the best promises.
As with anything, it’s best to know where you draw your own lines. You may never want to compromise on where you live or how you allocate your money. Make sure you know what’s important to you so you know your stance and can tell other people before it’s even asked. Your life is still yours to manage, even once you have gotten involved in a relationship.
You may be planning to get married or be together for a long time, so that may change some of your preconceived ideas of what you can give on, but never give up on your dreams.
Your dreams and plan for your life are the one thing that you own and no one can take them away from you. Your partner needs to understand how important it is for you to have these dreams and work towards making them come true. These could be plans about your career, your retirement, or some other aspect of your future.
And you will most likely change these over time. Just don’t allow anyone else to dictate what those changes are so they can be more comfortable.
And, realistic or not, make sure you have the support you need to make decisions that help you to grow.
Never compromise on your safety.
If you feel unsafe with decisions, say something. Your partner needs to know about your fears, but also needs to know what is safe for you and what is unsafe. It’s important that you feel safe physically, sexually, financially and emotionally.
Relationships are all about taking risks and trying new things and learning and growing, but that should never come at the price of your safety.
Having healthy relationships with friends, co-workers, and family members outside the relationship is not only important, but necessary.
If your partner is worried about your relationship with a friend, a former beau, or anyone else in your life, listen carefully to his concerns. There may be something to them. Find a way to show that that relationship is not a problem and will not affect the relationship you have with your partner. Isolation from friends and family, however, puts you in an extremely vulnerable position when it comes to making good decisions about your life and the relationship.
A healthy relationship allows for both of you to have rich social connections that don’t threaten the relationship. Find the right balance for you and your relationship.
Finally, be sure you’re getting your basic needs met.
Is your relationship keeping you from taking care of yourself? Are you getting enough rest and do you feel comfortable in your living environment? Do you feel guilty going to work because your partner wants you to stay home or do something for them instead of doing what needs to be done?
Your whole life is extremely effected by having your needs met properly, either positively or negatively.
Recognize the difference between needs and wants, and focus on needs first.
If your relationship is getting in the way of you and living your life, it might be asking you to compromise too much. Find a way to assert yourself and do what is necessary for you. You should never be asked not to do something that fills a basic need because your partner would prefer that you do something else for his benefit.
Becky Bringewatt, MA, LPC, NCC – www.mantiscounselingandcoaching.org
There may be a few random souls who are not buyable under any circumstances. In my four decades of working with individuals and couples, I have never known one.
The majority of us try as hard as we can to hold on to our integrity even when we’re threatened by loss, but it just isn’t that simple.
Love requires sacrifice. Trust requires faith. And, getting along in this complicated world of dating and commitments requires believing in the goodness of ourselves and our partners. When we’re in love, we want to believe that bending to the wills of our partners is a noble act.
It is, but only to a point.
Unless a relationship partner is threatened with abuse or unable to physically disconnect for whatever reasons, many stay in relationships they should leave because of both conscious and unconscious attachments, compromising their own integrity to hold someone to them or to get to stay.
Those sell-outs can be anything from giving up simple desires to letting go of life-long dreams. Or, in some cases, behaving in ways that seal the deal with even more disastrous self-destruction.
Every relationship is different and people are different in different relationships.
Time and experience also alter relationship partners as they learn from prior interactions. Yet, many people simply continue to repeat patterns that cumulatively reduce their value and eventually believe they have to give even more to succeed. They continue to adapt, adjust, and accommodate whatever the other partner asks for, sometimes before it is even requested.
Others become bitter and withhold love, testing each new partner exhaustingly until he or she leaves, supporting their self-fulfilling prophecies that love can never be trusted. They have felt so ripped-off in so many encounters, that they have become unwilling to risk anything of themselves, only willing to interact with partners who play their prior martyred part.
Yes, some compromises in intimate relationships are not only necessary, but serve to make our recipient partners feel important and cherished.
They are the ways we willingly and voluntarily give up some of our own desires to make room for those of the people we love. If, in the process, we don’t feel used, martyred, or taken advantage of, we not only feel good about doing it, but make our relationships more successful.
On the other hand, we’re human beings, not saints, and do need appreciation and gratitude for those sacrifices. If we’re clear about what is easy to give, what we need compensation for, what we can’t do under any circumstances, or what we might need as a return favor, we can help our partners to know what kind of a deal they’re signing at the time.
But are there some things that should never be personally compromised and how would we know when we are accommodating more than we should?
Here is a simple questionnaire that might help.
1. When you have a conflict as to which of your needs should be served, are you the usual one who compromised? ____
2. Do you frequently feel as if the relationship works because it is easier for you to adapt to your partner’s needs? ____
3. Do you often feel unappreciated by your partner? ____
4. Do you find yourself rationalizing your accommodating behavior at the time, but resenting it later? ____
5. Are you disappointed that your partner doesn’t recognize your sacrifices to him or her? ___
6. Does your partner seem to feel entitled to your sacrificing behaviors? ____
7. Do you continue to over-give because you are afraid your partner will leave you if you don’t?
8. Do you keep your feelings to yourself when you feel taken advantage of? ____
9. Do you feel you would be a bad person if you did not give in to your partner’s needs? ____
10. Do you keep thinking that your partner will eventually see how much you give and compensate you someday if you just keep giving? ____
Score the test:
The range is 1 – 5.
1 = Not usually
2 = Sometimes
3 – More than not
4 = Often
5 = Most of the time
Add up your scores.
1 – 10 You are a giving person who is comfortable in how you interact with your partner
11 – 20 You like who you are but wish sometimes that your partner would be more reciprocal
21 – 30 You are storing up some resentment that could erupt inappropriately when you need something you don’t get
31 – 40 You are beginning to feel as if it will never be your turn and starting to withhold your affection
41 – 50 You are headed toward martyrdom and will eventually be unable to reinstate your trust in your partner
Fortunately, you can change these scores and have a willing partner who doesn’t realize you are sacrificing so much and doesn’t need you to.
Many people establish their own requirements for giving based on insecurity, past trauma, or the need to be good.
They are unequally giving to a partner who enjoys their devotion, but perhaps doesn’t feel the need to reciprocate because he or she didn’t realize that partner needed something in return. Martyrs frequently believe they are putting emotional money in a psychological bank they can fairly draw from when they need to. If the other person hasn’t conceded to owe something on that emotional credit card, that storage unit may have a hole in the bottom.
Over-givers are also in grave danger of being patronizing without even realizing it.
They have assumed that their partner would not want to give back and take control over their own deprivation by assuming that partner isn’t able to give, thereby supporting their own capacity to give more. It is a self-rationalization that backfires over time.
Successful relationships are, in some way, reciprocal, authentic, and above-board.
Yes, there are people who find it easier to give and those who enjoy being overly cared for without guilt or conflict. When they choose each other, they can actually make the relationship work. But those couples are honest about who they are, and grateful to be with each other. The reciprocity may not be actions, but it is clearly in mutual appreciation and comfort. The potential danger in those partnerships is that they can easily slip into symbolic parent-child interactions and ultimately keep the relationship from maturing.
Here are some related articles I’ve written for Psychology Today Blogs that might help.
When Your Partner gives more than you Can Return
When it’s time to let a Relationship Go
How Intimate Partners Manipulate Each Other
Are you Withholding Love?
Is Lying part of Loving?
Couples Alert- Is your Love Dying?
Why Can’t I let Love in?
Are you Controlled by Love?
Bitterness – Love’s Poison
Dr. Randi Gunther – www.randigunther.com
He Says “I Love You”… But does he really mean it?
This 7 question quiz tells you if your man truly loves you or if he is just using you…
Compromise is a part of every healthy relationship.
People who can’t compromise really can’t function well in any relational capacity. But there is a difference between compromise and giving away your soul.
The distinction between the two is huge. Any compromise that requires you to give away an important part or even a small part of who you are is too much.
What does it mean to give away a part of your self?
Self-definition is the core thoughts, feelings, beliefs, values and needs that define you, that help you identify for yourself who you are. What comprises sense of self isn’t the same for everyone.
For some people religion is a huge part of who they are but for some it’s not that important. Politics is another area where people can differ but still get along.
It’s not the differences that are problematic; it’s the inability of one partner to tolerate those differences in the other. Even more problematic is the need for that person to actively try to control his partners’ beliefs.
Some people are so threatened by differences they will go to great lengths to coerce agreement. This is a truly unhealthy dynamic. Strong people not only tolerate differences, they welcome them. They see differences as an opportunity to learn and grow. They support their partners for who they are, not who they need them to be.
Compromise is the necessary process that people engage in in order to make decisions that both can live with.
Sometimes compromise is just a question of taking turns- I picked the movie last week, so you pick it tonight. Often compromise involves both people giving up a part of what they want (not who they are!) to arrive at something that they both can live with. Often an activity that wouldn’t be the first choice for either becomes an acceptable compromise so that both partners can participate.
You feel it in your gut when you are agreeing to something that isn’t right for you. You need to pay attention to that feeling; it’s telling you something important.
Maybe you notice that it’s always you doing the compromising. Compromise is a process that needs to be balanced; it needs to feel fair. While I’m not a huge fan of keeping score, there does need to be some level of reciprocity to avoid feelings of resentment.
Maybe the best indicator that you are giving up too much is when you look at your motivation.
Are you afraid? Being afraid to stand your ground is a good sign that you are not compromising, but submitting. You have worked hard to grow yourself up. A good deal of our life is spent in that process. A strong sense of self is the foundation for living a full and meaningful life. No person or relationship is ever worth giving that up.
Sally LeBoy, MFT – www.sallyleboymft.com
A smart therapist I know recently said, “Getting married means choosing the thing you’ll fight about for the rest of your life.”
I think she’s right.
But my “fight-about-for-the-rest-of-my-life” may be your complete no-go. One friend says she can’t love a Trump supporter, but another’s not so solid on that. One sister says she could never get past infidelity, but the other says she could forgive and move on. I may say religious views are my main deal in a relationship, but you may shrug that one off. So, I can’t offer absolutes, but I can say this: Trust Your Higher Self.
The concept of a Higher Self (or Atman, in Hindu scriptures) appears in almost every spiritual tradition.
It’s that part of you most connected with God or your Higher Power or sense of the Divine. The wise, eternal part of you. Your Higher Self knows what you need most in your relationships and it guides you by providing strong emotions that tug you one direction or another. Your Higher Self causes you to fall deeply in love.
Your Higher Self discerns, likewise, when it’s time to break up.
If you’re listening to your Higher Self, you get that bodily sense of, Aha! or, No freaking way! It’s the part that wakes up when a friend offers her advice and your heart yells out, Thank you!!! That’s just what I was thinking!!! Your Higher Self leads you through life experiences that make you better, stronger, and more conscious: this is your curriculum.
In your curriculum, you may need to fall in love one year and run away from love the next. A revolving door may be the best teacher for you right now. Then again, your curriculum may insist you stay and fight it out – so you learn something vital about love and tenacity.
Without diminishing the above, I usually hear women’s higher selves telling them to stand firm on these issues:
1. relationship violence
2. repeated infidelity
3. a partner’s refusal to grow or repair the relationship (e.g., get into therapy).
There are others. But these three pop up most often when my clients learn how to engage their higher wisdom in relational discernment.
Nobody knows but your wise mind: when to compromise and when to insist, when to stay and when to leave, when to ask for change and when to let it go. Nobody can really tell you which issues should be deal breakers. Maybe the most therapeutic thing IS the struggle to listen inside.
Dr. Deborah Cox – www.deborahlcox.com
Learn Why Men Pull Away
There is a deep-seated “Gap” in communication that very few women (or men) understand.
It’s the #1 reason why men pull away.
To be truly irresistible to a man, you MUST understand this gap, and the way feelings of love get confused and entangled in a man’s mind…
If you are compromising more than he is you will grow to resent it.
Compromise takes practice to master. It means that you have to be honest with yourself about what you each bring to the table. It is important not to devalue what the other person brings to the relationship simply because it is different than what you bring.
For example, some men devalue women´s work and think that staying home and taking care of the family is not work. It is important to be fair about what someone actually contributes. Maybe staying home does not bring income but it does help save on childcare and the family might enjoy regular home cooked meals more often because you stay home. So don’t compromise on your worth.
Don’t compromise your safety or your health.
Physical and emotional abuse should never be tolerated. It is toxic and devastating to your psyche. This is not healthy in any way shape or form. You have a right to feel safe in your relationship. Some women stay in abusive relationships thinking that he will change. Abuse can start slowly and subtly escalating over time. The sooner you identify abusive or toxic behavior, the faster you can disengage with him and move on.
There are other types of compromise.
Maybe he is a swinger and you are not. Maybe he wants to be in an open relationship and you don’t, but you give in anyway because you want to be in a relationship with him. I worked with a couple that had an open relationship agreement. It was an open relationship, except only one of them wanted it this way.
When she came home and found him with someone else in bed, it broke her heart even though she had agreed that it would be okay. I asked if they want to revisit the non-monogamy clause in their relationship and re-evaluate whether this was working for them. They both wanted to continue with the open relationship. Eventually the relationship ended up dissolving over this issue.
It is important to be honest with yourself about what need and want in a relationship.
Don’t agree to something because you think it will make him happy and it will keep him in the relationship. If you are not happy, don’t force it because it won’t last if you do not honor your needs in the relationship. Compromise can go to extremes.
Be mindful of boundaries and what you are willing to give up to stay in the relationship or make him happy.
Bottom line is if you are not happy and getting your needs met, this might not be the guy for you. Remember your worth and value yourself. Stay in your integrity, set your boundaries and remember that you are worth it.
Ileana Hinojosa, MLA, LMFT – www.themindfullife.net