This is not to say that you are identical with the other person, but you complement each other like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, a perfect fit that creates a new, wonderful entity. When people talk about finding Mr. or Ms. Right, this is what they mean, but this is an ideal. And as with all ideals, there often comes a time when they must be compromised, as we “settle” for Mr. OK or Ms. Good Enough. But how much compromise is too much?
In the early, passionate stage of a relationship, when you’re in the blissful throes of romantic discovery, the world is a wonderful place and the birds sing beautiful melodies in tribute to your new love. It is a feeling incomparable to any other, and naturally you want that to last forever, or at least for as long as possible. You may say you’ll do anything to make this relationship last, and you mean it—that’s the problem.
Compromise is great in small doses, often necessary to smooth over a few rough edges of an otherwise smoothly functioning relationship. Turning down the TV while the other person talks on the phone is no big deal, nor is turning off the TV to give some extra help with errands or chores once in a while. These compromises do not threaten to our core needs, wants, and deepest desires—the reasons we got into a relationship in the first place. It is when we start compromising these essential elements of who we are that the cracks in the foundation of relationship start to show.
A healthy relationship should affirm who each partner is and allow each person to meet his or her needs together with the other. A lesser relationship demands that one or both partners change in a deep and meaningful way to meet the needs of the other, which compromises one or both of the persons involved. In such cases, the compromise serves the relationship, which is backwards—the relationship should serve the persons in it.
The bottom line: Little compromises are natural and unavoidable, but be careful not to give up too much of what is important to you for the sake of a relationship that should help to affirm who you already are.