When Compromising Makes Things Worse


compromisingCompromising is all part of a good relationship, right?

You’re meant to compromise, to give and take, so that you can better mesh with the other person in your life.

Compromising is also meant to be the ultimate peace maker. “Let’s compromise” we say as we try to bring conflict to neutral ground and find a solution that works for everyone.

But what if compromising is actually making your relationship worse?

Can compromising actually be unhealthy for your relationship?


The idea of compromising is to make concessions so that all parties feel like they’ve got at least part of what they wanted and so that disharmony is avoided by having one person do all the taking or the giving.

You might compromise by agreeing that you won’t nag about any other part of the housework as long as your partner always makes the time to wash the cars, mow the lawns and pick up the dog poo every week. You may compromise that you’ll go to your mother in laws every Sunday for dinner, as long as you only stay for a few hours so you still get the early night you like to get before work on Monday (or leave before your mother in law gets completely loaded on cheap wine).

Compromising like this usually works.

When you share your life with another person there will always be times when you need to meet in the middle of two different desires.

Compromising shouldn’t be seen as giving in, it should instead be viewed as allowing you to bend, flex and stretch around new options, possibilities and solutions.

Being able to agree on a way through the inevitable road blocks in a relationship that is palatable for everyone involved is not only going to avoid arguments, but it will also likely see your relationship last the distance.

So with all those positive aspects of compromising, how can it ever be a bad thing to compromise?

It can when the compromising is more about submitting.

Compromising has gone bad when your compromise is to never speak up about what you really want, think or feel for fear of upsetting your partner. Instead you ‘compromise’ by letting them have the majority opinion and choice.

Compromising has gone wrong when you agree to changes or ways of being that you wouldn’t normally, or go against your morals and values, just to please your partner.

Or you compromise your wants and needs so that you don’t appear too bossy, needy, or confrontational.

I’ve talked with many clients who have this belief that by being ‘easy going’, by going along with their partner and letting them have their way, they avoid any issues.

Sure, they do tend to have less arguments because, let’s be honest, it’s hard for your partner to find much to argue about when they’re getting what they want all the time.

The reality is that a person who struggles with asserting themselves in their relationship is usually suffering from a lack of confidence and self esteem.

They simply don’t believe that they deserve to be on equal footing with their partner.

Rather than compromise being a healthy, positive problem solving solution, it ends up being unhealthy and detrimental to the esteem and well being of the person constantly on the giving end of the compromise.

If you’re giving away your power, if you’re simply fading into the background of your relationship so that you don’t have to face any disagreement, then you’re not loving from a place of truth and, eventually, this will cause deeper problems.

Your partner might enjoy the ‘easy going’ you for a while, and maybe you can convince yourself that you don’t mind the way things are but, more often than not, eventually someone realizes that there’s a lot more that’s not being said, wants, needs and desires that aren’t being met and resentment can build up to breaking point.

Speaking up, having your needs met, having your opinions, feelings and desires valued and being an equal to your partner will give you a much happier, healthier relationship.

It will also result in a much happier and healthier you.

If that’s not what your partner will accept then you need to consider whether you’re in a relationship with someone who truly loves and honors you, or a bully.

Photo credit: Pippalou

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