Now let me start by saying: DISCLAIMER! DISCLAIMER! Based on cold, hard, historical fact, I am by no means qualified to give anyone any advice on what makes a relationship work. And frankly, even now, with the love of a good man around me, I’d say the number one reason we work is patience (his, not mine).
But if there is anything I have learned from my past failures, it’s that compromise is not as easy as everyone likes to make out. How many times have you heard someone flippantly advise you that “it’s all about a little give and take”? We like to frame compromise as some easy middle ground that we somehow naturally meet on, happy that we’ve both agreed on an optimal solution.
WRONG! Let’s be honest: when people compromise, it means no one gets what they want. And sometimes, that’s ok. Like when neither of you really wants to do the housework, but you agree to split the chores, get to work, and an hour later you’ve got a sparkling house that you feel proud of. It works, because deep inside, although you don’t realise it, you don’t want to live in a pig sty.
But when you find that you’re both constantly compromising to make each other happy, the opposite is actually far more likely to occur – neither person feels that they ever get what they want, and that they are always giving. They secretly want the other person to feel grateful that they’re trying to make them happy, but as the other person is also in the same boat – always giving and never getting exactly what they want – they don’t feel grateful in the slightest. And on and on.
Fundamentally, there are just some things that shouldn’t be compromised. I’m sure that some people do, and are still happy – but those people are few and far between. Don’t assume that because you’ve met someone amazing, that your love will compensate for you having to give up dreams of living abroad, travelling, having kids, or changing careers. It is so important that you are honest with each other and with yourself about what you really want – and what you can and can’t give up. Imagine yourself at the end of your life and ask: “will I regret not having even tried?”
The power of desire is so much greater than we realise – it’s what drives us, gives us strength and courage and determination, and reasons for being who we are. And without that spark, would we really be ourselves any more? And can we expect others to love us, if we don’t really love ourselves?