Compromise doesn’t mean asking someone to change to make you happy

In relationships, you will often hear about couples making compromises in order to find a middle ground that both are satisfied with to achieve a goal. Unfortunately, many people are asked to make a compromise when, in truth, they are being asked to change who they are. Let’s talk about that.

In my last article When a man loves you…, I talked about questioning whether the person you are romantically involved with loves you. Although I titled it from a female’s perspective, it applies to any type of relationship. I was fortunate that people reached out to me privately and shared their experiences where they questioned the level of commitment their significant other had. As they detailed their situations, I noticed a common theme. People were confusing making a compromise with a request to change their personality.

Well, you can’t always have your way, right?

No, you cannot have what you want, when you want it, how you want it 100% of the time, especially if you are in a relationship. However, there is a difference between compromise and change. When someone compromises with someone else, the couple tries to find a middle ground that is comfortable for the both of them to resolve an issue. A behavioral change is not a compromise. The request is a subtle attempt to get someone to change their ways. Let’s look at two examples:

Situation #1

John and Mary decided they want to live together. Mary likes to cook; John does not like to cook. As a bachelor, he ate out most of the time. While dating, sometimes Mary would cook for John or they would go out. This pleased both of them because Mary enjoyed the nights out and John did not have to cook. Moving into together and looking at their finances, Mary noticed how much money was spent eating out. Mary suggested they eat out once a week, John cook two nights and Mary would cook the rest of the week. Mary thought it was fair because, out of seven days, she was cooking four days. Presented this way, John thought he was getting off lightly only cooking two days but deep down, he did not see the big deal in keeping the arrangement they had while dating. They would eat out when Mary did not cook.

Situation #2

Angela and Dexter decided they wanted to live together. Both of them like to cook. While dating they would occasionally eat out but they enjoyed cooking for one another, trying out new recipes and cooking together. Moving in together and looking at their finances, they decided to go out a couple of times a week for fun (but not necessarily to eat) and to cook their own meals. Instead of having a rigid cooking schedule, they decided whomever got home first would begin fixing dinner. They did the grocery shopping together, and enjoyed doing it, to ensure they both had their special goodies during the week.

Do you see the difference?

In the first scenario, when Mary asked John to cook, she was not asking him to compromise, she was asking him to change from being someone who disliked cooking to someone who liked cooking well enough to do it two times a week. She was asking him to sacrifice his enjoyment of eating out, and ignore his dislike for cooking.

In relationships and in life, we have to do things we do not want to do. In this case, while it might seem like a compromise to split the cooking responsibilities, Mary is actually asking him to permanently change his personality. Mary is asking him to do something, for an indefinite period of time, that she knows he does not like doing.

In the second example, Angela and Dexter both enjoyed cooking, making it easy to compromise. In theory, one of them might get home more often than the other but, since they both like to cook, it is not a burden to either of them if one of them has to cook more. The compromise? Whomever gets home first, instead of relaxing, watching TV, etc. has to start cooking dinner.

Do you see the difference in the two scenarios? If Mary wants to save money, do not ask John to indefinitely do something he does not like. Find other areas to cut expenses. Sometimes, the money is well spent if it makes John happy. Of course, every time they go out to eat it might annoy Mary how much they are spending. The optimal solution is to find someone that compliments you in major areas of your life. Angela and Dexter’s love for cooking brings them closer together and turns into being quality time spent together.

Asking someone to change is NOT a compromise

Often people make requests veiled as a compromise when in truth, they are asking someone to change their personality or way of thinking to make them happy. This is very common in relationships and unfortunately, these veiled compromises usually end up destroying relationships. Why? Because one person in the relationship fell in love with the idea of what he or she wanted their significant other to be instead of who their significant other really is. Some common issues couples argue about and the common “compromise”:

  • While dating, the couple went to the club regularly, sometimes together and sometimes separately with their friends. When the relationship became more serious, the guy wanted the girl to stop going to the club with her friends. Clubs are like meat markets and she is not on the market anymore. The compromise: instead of going to the club, they would go out and do something else or they could only go to the club together.
  • A girl is dating a guy that has mostly females, posting risqué pictures, as friends on his social profiles. When they became serious, the girl wanted the guy to unfriend the women, stop spending so much time online and stop sending and accepting friend requests from these types women. The compromise: instead of spending so much time online they could save up to get him X – something expensive he mentioned he’d like to have.
  • Every paycheck, the girl purchases “something”, usually shoes or clothes. When the boyfriend found out how much she was spending, he wanted her to stop. What could she possibly need with all those shoes? The compromise: The money they saved with her shopping deduction they could take a small vacation.
  • The guy enjoys playing video games and plays a couple of hours a day. The girl wanted him to stop playing video games because she thought he played them too much. The compromise: Instead of playing video games, they would have more quality time together.

Sound familiar? Have you had someone in your life ask you to “compromise” like this? They were asking you to change a personality trait they knew existed either before you knew them or while dating. Somewhere, in their subconscious, instead of accepting the person as is, they made note of the things that irritated them, put up with it until the relationship became more serious, then tried to “compromise” the problem away.

Note: In each of these situations, one person is requesting a change and not giving up anything in return.

Recognizing your soul mate

The love of your life, your soul mate, is the person you accept as is and because of this, the strong foundation makes it easier to deal with the hurdles and problems that come up in life.

In the situations above, these are all personality conflicts that cannot be resolved through compromise. To permanently resolve these issues, one person has to make a major change in their personality or behaviors. Requesting someone to change prematurely results in a change that rarely lasts long-term because the change was being made for the wrong reasons. In the end, the person making the change becomes unhappy. The relationship begins to unravel and without a strong foundation, it crumbles.

It is easy to find someone you get along with. It is much harder to find your true compliment, your soul mate. Your soul mate is the one that trusts you and knows if you go to the club without them, you will not disrespect the relationship. Your soul mate is the one that, while able to admire beauty in others, no longer needs to solicit attention-seeking people because you are in their life. Your soul mate realizes that, if the shoes are not breaking the bank, they make you happy. Your soul mate is the one that knows how much you enjoy playing video games and is a gamer as well or will have a hobby of their own while you play games or will try to play games with you…not try to make you quit.

This is a compromise

Charles and Janet have been together for two years. Charles picked up weight over time and expressed to Janet that he’d like to lose weight. Talking about the issue, Janet said she would go to the gym with Charles for encouragement to exercise. They would both try to eat more healthy, something Janet wanted to do for herself even though she did not need to lose weight. To help Charles stay on track, Janet compromised eating high calorie snacks at home and ate them during the day away from home so they would not be in the house. Not only did it help Janet burn the calories off during the day it helped Charles from snacking late at night on high calorie snacks until he got his weight where he wanted it.

Note the difference. Janet still gets her snacks, the compromise is when she eats them…not whether she eats them at all. Also note Charles was the one that wanted to make the change and Janet is being supportive of his decision. She did not request Charles do something he did not want to do.

You are YOU for a reason

Open your eyes and recognize the requests being made of you. Do not change yourself to make someone else happy, change when you are ready. Your soul mate will love you as you are and the two of you will work together to achieve goals in life. Your soul mate will try to support the things you do, not change who you are. Recognize those veiled change requests for what they are…not compromises.

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