When To Compromise In A Relationship

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The first question comes from a guy who emailed us. He asks: How can you tell the difference between a deal breaker and a small compromise to save the relationship?

This is a very good question. If you are a regular reader of CoupleDumb, you will know exactly how we feel about compromise; we hate it! Compromise usually works in the following way.

(She wants A – He wants B) / (Compromise) = They get C (which neither of them wanted).

Neither partner is satisfied with compromise which creates a resentment that will surely come out some time later. This is why we always stress creating a very strong foundation. When you continuously align your visions for the relationship, you will never really come up with a situation where you both want things that cancel out or are diametrically opposed to the other. A situation where he wants to buy a jet ski and she wants to save money for a house shows two individuals with wildly different priorities.

But, back to your question, aside from our hatred of compromise, we also encourage everyone to get their priorities straight. What do you value? What is something that defines you and your goals? When you are clear with those, the difference between a compromise and a deal breaker should be easy. A deal breaker is something that goes against who you are and what you value. If fidelity and loyalty define who you are then the idea of a three-way has to be a deal breaker. If you have a monetarily conservative outlook and want to save for a rainy day, dating or marrying a person who cannot keep a dollar in their pocket is not the person for you.

Lastly, small compromises add up. One day you are OK with letting your husband let his cousin spend a few days at your home ‘just so he can get on his feet’. Six months later you are taking care of another grown man. When couples make decisions, all values and feelings must be taken into account.

Flexibility and trust are the keys to having a good relationship. If you find you are digging your heels and being inflexible, maybe this is not the relationship for you.

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