Compromise in a relationship is normal (and healthy!).
Because no two people are the same, partners are bound to want different things sometimes. And when that happens, compromise can help.
Let’s assume that each couple has 100% of “this is everything I want” to divide amongst themselves in any given situation. If you demand the full 100%, there’s nothing left for your partner. There’s no compromise.
But if you agree to accept 50%, let’s say, the remaining 50% goes to your partner. That’s compromise.
With compromise, neither partner gets everything they want. But by giving up a little, each partner is making a statement. They’re saying, “Hey, my partner’s needs are important too. The relationship as a whole is important.”
And that statement can go a long way. It can make both partners feel understood, loved, and supportive.
But too much compromise can lead to an unhealthy relationship. If you’re consistently settling for 5% of what you want, for example, so that your partner can have 95%, that’s taking things too far.
Another way to take things too far is by compromising on things that shouldn’t be compromised. And that’s what this post is all about!
Check out the list below for five things you should never compromise in a relationship.
1. Your Self-Respect
Oxford Languages defines self-respect as “pride and confidence in oneself; a feeling that one is behaving with honor and dignity.”
Compromise in a relationship is a must. But if it causes you to respect yourself less, it’s not a healthy compromise.
For example, let’s say you and your partner are headed to a party. You put on a vibrant, colorful outfit, and it speaks to the bold, fashionable dresser you are! You feel confident.
But then your partner insists you change. They don’t want you to “attract too much attention” or look like you’re “trying too hard.” So you change. You put on some neutral tones and the clothes still look okay. It’s not the end of the world.
But your partner has done this to you a few times, and you don’t like it. Your bold fashion style speaks to who you are, and you feel your best wearing bright colors. You feel mad at yourself for never defending your fashion choices, and letting your partner dress you.
And while you wouldn’t characterize yourself as someone with no self-respect, you feel your sense of self-respect has been compromised a bit.
Now, I give this example because it’s not necessarily black and white. Many couples have advice for one another in the fashion department, and that’s completely okay! Changing your shirt to one your partner likes more isn’t a crime.
But if, as in the example above, you’re very much tied to your style, and going against it makes you feel like you’re respecting yourself less, that self-respect shouldn’t be compromised.
In a case like that, it’s best to tell your partner how you feel. If your partner is asking you to do things that would hurt your sense of self-respect, let them know. Express to them how important xyz thing is to you, and explore whether you both can work out a better compromise.
In the fashion example, this could mean asking your partner if they can make peace with your fashion choices (I’d bet many partners would be just fine with this after you share your thoughts!).
Or it could mean very occasionally wearing neutral tones that your partner loves. Whatever restores your sense of self respect and makes the relationship feel more balanced.
In other words, healthy compromises do not make you feel lesser. They don’t force you to accept bad behavior and feel guilty for accepting it.
They don’t involve partners who put you down or make you feel like you have to “earn” their respect.
Healthy compromises empower you. They keep your respect for yourself intact.
2. Your Sense of Independence
There are two “me’s” in “we.” In other words, it takes two individuals to have a relationship!
And one of the healthiest things you can do for a relationship is maintain your sense of independence.
When you first start a relationship, you go into it with your own life goals, dreams, hobbies, friends, and more. Those things shouldn’t all go away as a relationship develops!
The right partner will celebrate what makes you unique. They’ll encourage you to grow as an individual. And they won’t force you to give up what makes you you for the relationship.
For example, let’s say you’re single, and you spend all of your free time going out with friends.
When you start a relationship, your partner may eventually ask to spend more quality time with you. And that’s great!
Quality time is essential in relationships, especially for those whose love language is quality time.
You could choose to have a weekly date night, hang out with friends together, etc.
But let’s say your partner often discourages you from hanging out with friends, and makes you feel guilty when you do. This could mean they speak badly of your friends, insist you give them frequent updates while you’re out (or else), or engage in other manipulative behaviors.
In cases like that, doing as your partner says would not be a healthy compromise.
If you feel you’re compromising in a relationship so much that you’re no longer pursuing interests or goals you had as an individual, your friends are wondering where you’ve been, or you feel you’re in a codependent relationship, it’s time to take a step back.
Independence isn’t a threat to a relationship. It’s an asset! Partners who celebrate who they are as individuals can best give their relationships 100%. And that makes relationships stronger.
The right partner will be secure enough to let you blossom into your best. They won’t ask you to compromise your independence for their security.
Own who you are, find someone who loves you for it, and the rest will fall into place!
3. Your Opinions
Partners have different opinions, and that’s why relationships require compromise. But if you feel you don’t have a voice in a relationship, or like your opinions are never heard, that’s not a compromise worth making.
When it comes to expressing opinions, there’s a balance. It’s not required that you voice every opinion you’ve ever had in a relationship, of course. But you shouldn’t have to brush opinions that are important to you under the rug.
Not expressing opinions that differ from your partner’s may seem like a way to keep the peace, but it can make you feel unsatisfied — even resentful — in the relationship.
By voicing our opinions, we give our partners the chance to hear and understand us. And when they share their opinions with us, we can return the favor!
Sharing opinions, even when they’re different, can make a relationship stronger.
It takes courage and confidence to share your views on things, especially if others disagree. It means you’re owning who you are and not molding yourself to who someone wants you to be. And that confidence is attractive and inspiring! There’s nothing wrong with agreeing to disagree.
So if someone is trying to silence your voice, or suggest your opinions aren’t valued, that’s not a basis for healthy compromise.
Healthy compromise is about creating a safe space for both partners to share their opinions. Each partner can respectfully agree or disagree, and then decide the best way to move forward.
That may involve acting based on your opinion or your partner’s opinion (where you can aim to “switch off” each time you have a disagreement). Or it could mean finding a way to “meet in the middle.”
In any case, the important part is to feel mutually heard and understood, and like you’re both taking an active role in solving relationship challenges.
4. Your Values
This is a big one! You should never compromise in a relationship by giving up your core values.
For example, let’s say one of your strongest values is marriage.
You’ve met the person you want to spend the rest of your life with, and you can’t wait to marry them. You see it as the ultimate expression of love and commitment.
Then your partner tells you they don’t believe in marriage. They say their intent is never to get married. What do you do?
You could consider remaining unmarried for the rest of your lives together. And that’s completely okay, if both people want that!
It’s also worth noting that you can sometimes change your values. And if you can truly get to a place where you no longer value marriage, that’s okay.
But if marriage is still one of your strongest values, and you give up marriage, a relationship will be an uphill battle.
Giving up our core values means denying the entirety of who we are. It means giving up pieces of ourselves to be with someone else. And that can lead to disappointment, sadness, and even resentment.
So if we can avoid these kinds of things, we should! And that means honoring our values.
For example, let’s say your partner is from another country, and they value their culture. If you’re in a relationship with them, you can support them in honoring that value.
You could decide to move to their country, incorporate cultural traditions into your lives (e.g. cooking authentic meals, learning the language of their country, etc.), or come up with other ideas.
Values are important! And healthy couples find ways to honor both their mutual and individual values.
5. Your Inner Peace
The last thing you should never compromise in a relationship is your sense of inner peace.
Have you ever been in a relationship with someone where it just feels hard? Like, all the time?
If you’re in a relationship where you and your partner never see eye to eye, you’re fighting frequently, and there are more bad days than good, it’s worth checking in with yourself.
Do you feel at peace in your relationship? Does your mind feel steady, and your heart feel full?
These are important questions to ask, because the right partner — the compatible partner — will make you feel at peace. You’ll feel you are where you’re meant to be.
And while disagreements and bad days happen (of course!), you’ll know in the long run that you’re good together.
In short, healthy relationships don’t require you to compromise your inner peace.
In healthy relationships, you trust that your partner has your best interests at heart. And they trust you with the same.
The sense of security, fulfillment, and love that comes with inner peace isn’t something you should have to give up.
Compromise in a Relationship Can Be a Force for Good
Compromise in a relationship is required, and it can be a force for good!
Settling for less than 100% of what we want in some situations can show our partners we care about them.
It can show we’re willing and able to harmonize individual and relationship needs. And it can build trust, love, and good will in a relationship.
So long as we focus on healthy compromises, and say “no” to compromises that make us feel unheard, unvalued, or unsettled, we’ll be good to go! Rich, happy relationships await us. 🙂
This is so wonderful and inspirational, actually compromise plays a very big part in keeping our relationships strong and healthy
Thank you, Jimmy! I totally agree. 🙂
Wow great lessons
Thank you! Glad they were helpful. 🙂