If you think being in a relationship is all sunshine and rainbows, then you couldn’t be more wrong. Sometimes it’s black clouds and thunderstorms. You will have to go through a great deal of compromise in a relationship to keep it sailing smoothly. When there is no compromise in a relationship, you might soon hit an iceberg.
To understand the difference between healthy and unhealthy compromise, we reached out to counseling psychologist Namrata Sharma (Masters in Applied Psychology), who is a mental health and SRHR advocate and specializes in offering counseling for toxic relationships, trauma, grief, relationship issues, gender-based and domestic violence. She said, “When we talk about healthy compromise in a relationship, it is necessary that it is accepted by both the parties in the relationship.
“If only one is compromising, then that is not healthy in any way. It clearly shows how toxic the relationship might be. The pressure, the load of a relationship is only on one person. For example, if one partner is constantly expecting another to compromise, whether it’s about going out with friends for a party or expecting them to act and behave a certain way where the other person can do or behave however they want. Those are some examples of compromise in a relationship which are in no way acceptable or healthy.”
Compromise in a relationship is very natural, common and healthy because no two people want or like the same things. But if you feel like you are always the one to compromise or you are always the one to yield to your partner’s whims and desires, then it is one of the signs of unhealthy compromise in a relationship.
Why Is Compromise Important In A Relationship
Before we get started with the details of unhealthy compromise in a relationship, it’s important to understand the difference between compromise and sacrifice. A compromise, which helps you and your partner grow together as a team is healthy, whereas bad compromises can be stated as sacrifices and there are a few things you should never compromise in a relationship.
You can expect your partner to compromise or you can be the one to compromise in order to foster trust, reliability and security in a relationship. But when these compromises focus on benefiting only one person’s desires and happiness, it could easily be defined as an unhealthy compromise in a relationship.
Namrata says, “No two individuals are born the same way. All of us have our own baggage owing to our childhood and past relationships. We have all had different experiences in life. When two people come together, the main goal is to understand each other. The very basic need for compromise is to just get along peacefully and harmoniously.
“Compromise in a relationship is needed to create that environment where both of you can listen to each other, to have that non-judgmental space where you can talk about anything and be open to new experiences. It is also important because if you don’t do so, you will not be able to trust one another and trust is the building block of a relationship.
“When there is no compromise, it’s like you are living alone in the relationship, as if you are with the other person for namesake. There are many tips to compromise in a marriage the right way. If you need to enjoy the good and survive the bad in life, you need to compromise in a relationship. The ups and downs of a relationship can be navigated and enjoyed only when there is communication and compromise in a relationship without changing yourself.
“When you do something for the other person in the form of compromise, it forms a deeper bond with your partner, it develops a closeness, which will strengthen your bond. If you want to fathom a relationship completely, then compromise becomes the most essential aspect of understanding that relationship.”
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9 Signs Of Unhealthy Compromise In A Relationship
Communication and compromise in a relationship go hand-in-hand. To compromise, you need to communicate and settle the differences by mutual agreement and concession. Communication problems in relationships are very common. It’s when we grow in life and take part in various relationships that we learn what compromise is and how to compromise in a relationship without changing yourself.
She says, “Let’s say a couple is trying to buy a house and looking for ways to save more for it. They decide to cut down on the expenses such as traveling or partying or dining out or shopping or any other thing that may cause hindrance in their plan. When both of them agree to this decision and equally play their part in saving money, then that’s a healthy compromise in a relationship. That’s the kind of relationship where each person feels secure about their choices.”
The compromise should always be mutual on both sides. If it’s unbalanced, then the whole relationship is at the risk of falling apart like a house of cards. It is not something easy to pull off with finesse. It’s something we learn to do with grace and kindness just for the sake of the people we truly love and cherish. Kindness is one of the biggest priorities in a relationship. Below are some of the signs of unhealthy compromise in a relationship that one mustn’t mistake for healthy give and take.
1. Compromising on self-respect
Never compromise on self-respect, whether it’s in your everyday life with other people or an important relationship. It is very important to realize your self-worth and not let anybody make you feel less about yourself. Let’s not confuse self-respect with ego. Self-respect is the respect you have for yourself while ego is the elevated sense of your own understanding of who you are as a person.
If your partner constantly puts you down and does little to no compromise in a relationship, then it’s one of the major red flags. Let’s say the two of you are going to a party and you’ve put on a beautiful dress. Your partner asks you to change because they don’t want you to “attract too much attention” or they could also say something like “you don’t look good in that dress. Please change”.
You know your style and you know how to look your best self. It might not seem like a big deal to change a dress at your partner’s insistence but these things always start small. You will start to feel that you are compromising on your self-respect by letting your partner get their way. That’s one of the examples of unhealthy compromise in a relationship.
2. When there is no teamwork involved
Namrata says, “Compromise in a relationship should be teamwork and teamwork is one of the things to look for in a relationship. When the compromise reaches a level where it feels like you are the only one who is making efforts to keep the relationship going and you are the only one who is yielding to the other person’s wishes and wants, then it means your partner is not willing to compromise in a relationship.”
Teamwork contributes to building friendship and loyalty in a relationship. It’s one of the ways two people in a relationship reach a common goal. And that’s exactly the intention of compromise in a relationship as well. When that teamwork is disproportionate, one partner is refusing to compromise in a relationship.
Related Reading: 11 Things That Happen In Relationships Without Trust
3. When they cross boundaries
If you haven’t set boundaries with your partner yet, it’s time you sit down and talk about it as communication and compromise in a relationship are very necessary. There are some healthy relationship boundaries you must follow. If you stay silent about boundaries because you don’t want to hurt your partner, it might lead to a lot of misunderstandings down the lane.
Namrata says, “Boundaries are for you and about you. They can be anything ranging from physical boundaries to emotional and financial boundaries. If your partner is not willing to compromise in a relationship, you might want to consider how putting a boundary in place could improve this.”
4. When you stop recognizing yourself
Namrata says, “Let’s say your partner stops talking to you and shows a hot and cold behavior toward you or has a push pull attitude in the relationship. You do everything you can to please your partner but all your efforts and compromises go in vain. You swallow and compromise your self-respect to give them chance after chance. Very soon, you will start to feel trapped and feel guilty for not standing up against those compromises.
“Now, when you look back at the person you were and the person you have become, you might realize that you are a completely changed person just to be with someone who is not willing to compromise in a relationship. It will create a depressing feeling in you because they have made you feel less about yourself.”
5. When they always need to have the last word
Relationship arguments are common but those arguments cannot be dominated by one person. Whenever a conflict arises in a healthy relationship, each partner should feel like they have the freedom to express their sentiments without hurting the other person.
Namrata says, “When a person controls the conversation or keeps twisting the narrative just to have the last word in order to win the argument, then it’s one of the clear signs that your partner is refusing to compromise in a relationship.”
6. One partner is expected to pay for everything
It’s one thing for a partner to pay willingly but it’s another when they do it unwillingly. In a relationship where both of you are financially stable and take responsibility for the house, it’s only fair that both of you divide the bills equally as it is better to apply gender equality in all kinds of relationships.
Namrata says, “If only one partner is expected to pay for everything, then soon they might see you as a burden. They will stop thinking you are worthy of their love and appreciation. They will start to think that you cannot do things by yourself and that you are being dependent on them for everything. If your partner is not comfortable paying for every dinner date because you expect them to, then it’s not one of the good examples of compromise in a relationship.”
7. They make all the decisions for you
Namrata says, “Right from small things such as what you eat and what you wear to where to go on holidays, if all the above things are done according to only one person’s choice, it means there is no compromise in a relationship. If only one person decides when to have sex and when to hangout with friends, then it’s a toxic relationship and also one of the signs of unhealthy compromise in a relationship.
“They don’t consider talking to you before making important decisions. You feel controlled. In fact, the entire relationship is controlled by one person. You make a lot of excuses to yourself about why you couldn’t stand up against that compromise, which will lead to a lot of anxiety issues. Ultimately, it will play with your head.”
8. When your opinions aren’t taken into consideration
Namrata says, “According to a lot of studies and social psychology, humans are made in a certain way where they are expected to compromise and adjust in a society as individuals. But if you are compromising on your opinion and if you feel as if your opinions aren’t being heard, then it simply means your partner is refusing to compromise and refusing to fix lack of communication in a relationship.”
Every person is opinionated and has the right to have his or her own opinion. This is where a relationship requires more compromises than ever. It takes a lot of confidence to share your views and have an opinion on certain things even if others tend to disagree. If your partner refuses to take your opinion, then it’s an example of unhealthy compromise in a relationship.
9. Losing your personality and independence
A relationship should be a safe space where both of you can share your real personality with one another. If you change your actions because you are afraid your partner might not like you just the way you are, then it’s an unhealthy compromise in a relationship which will change you as a person altogether. Look for ways to be independent in a relationship. If you are a bubbly and talkative person and your partner doesn’t like to talk much, then you can’t change your personality as a silent one just to sit right with your partner.
In my personal opinion, your independence has to be the single greatest thing about yourself. One of the reasons why it didn’t work out with my former partner is because he tried to discourage my independence. Even something as simple as hanging out with my friends was viewed in a negative light. He would make me feel guilty for having a good time. I realized a right person wouldn’t do that. They wouldn’t ask me to compromise my independence just so they could feel secure in the relationship.
Compromise is important to keep the relationship peaceful even in tough times and during conflicts. A relationship where both the partners compromise equally will never make one of them feel burdened. It’s not fun to compromise but it is a very underrated act of love, which most people overlook.
It is healthy as long as neither of them feels like it is a sacrifice or feels resentful toward a compromise. A healthy compromise in a healthy relationship will enhance the love two people share. It always brings out the best in people.
Let’s say there is a married couple and the husband is taking care of the family as the wife is a working woman. A house husband doesn’t suggest the wife leave her job and take care of the house. He just fills in that role without feeling less about himself or blaming the wife for not being a good mother. That’s an example of compromise in a healthy relationship.
Compromises cannot be measured and should never come at a cost. It shouldn’t demean or satisfy a single person and shouldn’t be on a level where you don’t even recognize yourself. It’s too much compromise when they turn into burdens. A healthy balance is what we’re seeking. All compromises should make you feel like the two of you are heading toward the same goal.