So you’ve met Mr. Right–or at least your friends and family think you have. Handsome, gainfully employed, considerate of others, especially you. He’s funny, thoughtful, and you have a lot of common interests. “He’s a keeper,” they insist, and you believe them. But there’s another nagging feeling rising up alongside your dreams of a long-term future with this supposed man of your dreams. The catch: you can never come to an agreement on anything without a lengthy discussion that unearths a host of fundamental differences and elicits a lot of side-eyes.

For instance, you come to the relationship with male friends. You and your male friends have always discussed each other’s romantic relationships and solicited each other’s advice. Mr. Right politely expresses that this bothers him. He’d rather you griped about your relationship to him and him alone. He’d love it if you’d cut your male friends off altogether, but understands that’s too drastic a request–so how about just not hanging out with them solo anymore? At first you’re unwilling to budge. The guy friends were in your life before he was, after all, and they’ll likely be there after him, if he keeps showing these possessive red flags.

Then you think about all the people who are encouraging you to work things out with him. “He’s a keeper” echoes after every disagreement. “Meet him halfway,” a girlfriend advises, “That’s all he’s asking.”

So you do. But it turns out he’s like this about a lot of things. His hope for an ideal partner is someone who doesn’t make decisions he finds unsettling. And he finds a lot of your decisions unsettling: a low-cut blouse here, a backless dress there, an out-of-town school or job opportunity, a vacation with with your girls instead of with him.

On the one hand, you find it a bit flattering that he wants to be a part of your decision-making process; he wants the two of you to be a team. He’s practicing for when you’ll make a more permanent commitment. On the other hand, you’re being asked to give up a lot of your autonomy to be in this relationship. Is it worth it? Are his requests that you not only consider his feelings, but also allow those feelings to influence your final decisions, a dealbreaker? Or are these discussions and your resistance to them a sign of your unwillingness to compromise?

We’d all like to believe that our partner should accept us exactly as we are, that we shouldn’t have change one whit of who we are to accommodate anyone else’s feelings or wishes. But every relationship will require some give-and-take, some amendment to the way that you did things before you were coupled. But how much compromise is too much? How long before the person looking back at you from the mirror or the voice you hear coming out of your mouth no longer resembles you? Everyone’s threshold for adaptation is different.

So what are some of your personal guidelines for when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em with a guy who’s asking you to make some changes? 

Like Us On Facebook Follow Us On Twitter
  • Everyone has to compromise but that doesn’t mean you have to change who you are. I have a lot of guy friends & I know that once I start seriously dating someone I have to hang & talk with them less. No man is 100% okay with their woman hanging out with other men & telling said man all their relationship business. I used to smoke but the guy I’m dating told me that he wouldn’t date me if I kept it up, so I quit. Its not a bad compromise, I dont want to choose a cig & bad heath over a man. But like I said we all have to compromise, just don’t lose yourself or change to fit what someone else wants you to be.

  • Humanista

    Oh boy, I’ve experienced every part of this post. Compromise is a necessity, but your boundaries have to be maintained. It’s never okay to compromise to ease someone’s deep insecurities a) because it’s an unreasonable responsibility and not your weight to bear and b) because it won’t work anyway–the only person who can ease one’s insecurities is one’s self. Your boundaries will just keep diminishing and that’s unhealthy. Knowing when to say “when” is difficult, but if every discussion is really turning up so many “fundamental differences” then that is a problem in itself. Many will say the only fundamental thing that needs agreeing upon is love–that’s a lie. If you can’t coexist peacefully, and live a balanced and full life* w/o feeling like you’re in a glass box it’s time to cut ties!

    This is an important question to consider. The line between compromise and control is very blurry, especially if you’re woefully accommodating by nature like I am. I know I’ve struggled with understanding the difference in my head. So you really may not be able to rely on “logic” to work out an answer for yourself (especially if your man is using “logic” to manipulate you out of your boundaries). Your gut will have it all figured out. Follow it.

    *full life =/= acting single, over-sharing w/ others a/b the relationship, not considering the other person’s feelings, etc.

    • Dreaming

      I have a male friend who is trying to date me even though he is currently in a relationship. He asked me to lower my standards, stating that they are too high when in fact he just doesn’t fit them. I will not compromise on my standards, which are easy for other people to meet. Like you said, it is unreasonable to bear the responsbility of easing someone’s insecurities.