Everyone is uniquely different, so it makes sense that when two people came together there would always be a set of unsolvable issues. And being in relationship with someone means you are accepting a set of unsolvable problems. This was a normal part of healthy relationships. For relationships to work out, compromise was a big part and necessity.
Now are you actually making healthy compromises in your relationship or are you starting to sacrifice yourself? Is compromising only to please your partner a good thing? Are you happy or are you getting resentful? There is a clear line between healthy compromise and unhealthy one, but when you're in the thick of a relationship, you can't really see it. So, how can you tell? Here is how healthy compromise and unhealthy compromise look like.
1. Healthy Compromise Is Mutual; Unhealthy Compromise Is Disproportionate
This means both of you need to give up something, not just one of you. Healthy compromise is about two people, coming from two different perspectives, finding a mutual solution to a problem. Healthy compromise means when you reach an impasse and you are not sure how to get out of it, the two of you in a relationship make shifts in your behavior to resolve the impasse with mutual desires to make your relationship flow again.
In contrast, unhealthy compromise is often one-sided. Unhealthy compromise mostly means that one person is doing the heavy lifting, giving up things that are important to them or adjusting their values over and over again.
With a healthy compromise, two people will be trying to figure something out. With an unhealthy compromise, one partner will be asked to give something while the other won’t. A relationship based on one person's sacrifice won't continue to work over time. A relationship based on healthy compromises, however, will.
Next time you ask for your partner to give up something, be prepared to offer something to the table yourself. That shows balance, a sense of fairness and a willing to compromise yourself - not just ask your partner for compromise. There is win-win for both parties.
2. Healthy Compromise Has a Specific Goal; Unhealthy Compromise Often Doesn't
A healthy compromise often happens because two people need a way to get to the other side of a problem. In this way, compromise usually has a specific goal in mind. Typically, a compromise arises because there is an individual problem to be solved. Healthy compromises keep the couple focused on problem-solving in an effective, healthy way. And the mutual goal is accomplished by their team work.
An unhealthy compromise may have an individual goal, but more often, they are made with some idea that they'll be good for the health of the relationship as a whole. When one person keeps making sacrifices for the relationship without a specific mutual goal, without the other person doing much, it's a formula for the end of a relationship. So if you feel like you are continually being asked to give things up "for the sake of the relationship", you're making one-sided sacrifices instead of reaching a resolution with your partner on actual issues.
3. Healthy Compromise Is Never Resentful; Unhealthy Compromise Can Be
Unhealthy compromise feels a lot like a subtraction, like you're the only one giving up things and getting nothing or not much back. If this one-sided relationship continues, the lack of balance breeds resentment and anger and in the end, the relationship won't survive.
Even when it’s a healthy compromise, making a compromise may not be the most fun or the easiest thing to do in the world. However, it seldom creates a lot of resentment between parties. In contrast, people who are asked to make a sacrifice one after another can get resentful, with good reason, It can quickly lead to one partner feeling like they aren't being heard and also like their needs aren't getting met. If you are starting to feel really resentful about all the things you are being asked to give up, sooner or later, you will start resenting the person who continues to ask you to do those things-your partner. It is very rare that total sacrifice is necessary for a relationship to work.
If you are in a relationship in which you feel like you are sacrificing all the time or sacrificing too much, you and your partner need healthy discussions and figuring out how the two of you can tackle problems together and how you can get back to a healthy place.
4. Healthy Compromise helps you to become more authentic best self, whereas Unhealthy Compromise makes you become less of your authentic best self.
A healthy compromise is when change helps you to become more of your authentic best self for both yourself and your partner. Both of you choose to experience the short lived discomfort of change in return for the greater future gain of personal growth for each other, leading to a happier relationship and individual happiness. Healthy compromises benefit both parties, enhancing each other’s authenticity, bringing the partners closer. In a healthy, balanced relationship, the connection and identity of who you are should be enhanced, not diminished.
The opposite is an unhealthy compromise, where, when you make a change, you become less of your authentic best self. You are making any change to your habits or lifestyle that reduces your spirit or keeps you from reaching your full potential as a human being. You lose your aura of happiness and luster in life.
It should be acknowledged that healthy compromises can be hard, too. Even a healthy compromise is any change to your habits or lifestyle that temporarily sets you back in order to mature and catapult you forward as a person. And yet, if they are good healthy compromises, they help you and your partner grow together as a team. A healthy compromise shows that you have a common goal in mind: a healthy partnership, rather than your own singular happiness at heart.
When trying to figure out if the compromise is a healthy one, ask yourself the following questions:
Will this compromise make me feel less than my authentic self?
Does this compromise only benefit my partner adding to his/her authority in the relationship?
If this is an unhealthy compromise, or if your partner makes requests that you feel are unhealthy, you need to speak up and have a discussion with them about it and explain why this change does not fit your soul or help bring out your authentic self. Before you start a discussion with your partner, keep the following in mind:
Learning to compromise takes practice. If you're having difficulty communicating what you need and feeling true balance in your relationship, reach out to a mental health professional. Once you get the hang of compromise in your relationship, and you feel equally appreciated and valued for your shared interests and your individual pursuits and priorities, the word compromise won't feel negative or scary at all, but rather a vital ingredient to your happy union.
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About Sam Nabil
Sam was featured in many prestigious publications. Check out his interview with Aljazeera English