A friend of mine recently decided to walk away from a eight-year relationship. Essentially, his partner had been unfaithful nearly the entire time, and after eight years of the same promises broken again and again, and as he was running her business while she was away on holiday with one of her other lovers, he decided it was enough.
I had no idea what had been going on, but we met for dinner a couple weeks ago and he shared the story with me. At the end of our conversation, he admitted, "Saying this out loud makes me hear how crazy it sounds."
I told him that if this is the relationship we wants, then there's some misalignment between what she thinks is ok within the relationship and what he wants and expects. Although she would lie, she would tell him about the others, so she knew he knew about it. I told him that it's less about her deceiving him and more about him deceiving himself.
To be with someone who's not monogamous and expecting them to be in a monogamous relationship with you because that's what you want, and then being upset when they aren't/don't want to/can't be is a losing game.
When he asked me what I would do, I told him that that's a decision he has to make, but I shared a story of walking away from the last person I loved. While it was one of the most difficult things I've ever done, I knew it was what I needed to do, and now looking back, I was grateful to myself for walking away because I knew to stay would have been to compromise what I truly wanted in my heart. I felt taken for granted and I wanted to be seen, appreciated and loved by someone I see, appreciate, and love. I had to accept the situation and follow what was in my heart.
There's a difference between loving and accepting someone for who they are and putting up with unacceptable behavior.
The best way that I can describe this is with an explanation my French friend gave me about the difference in meaning between "faire un compromis" and "se compromettre."
Faire un compromis = to compromise
Se compromettre = to not be true to oneself
In relationships, by the nature of having two people with different backgrounds, personalities, interests, priorities, and values—a relationship as a merging of worlds—compromise is a natural element of a given merging. You work together and negotiate these differences as part of being together.
The Latin root of com— means friendly, kind, with, together. So if we breakdown the word it is to do something with promise, together, in a kind way. This is what compromise is rooted in.
But it has come to be more often associated with compromising...settling for less. This other area is one we're less likely to talk about or acknowledge. In French the reflexive form of the verb, to compromise, "se compromettre," refers when someone compromises themselves.
The reason it is important to explore this within ourselves is because when we are in love with someone, we're motivated to make compromises we wouldn't necessarily make otherwise...because the person (our partner) or thing (our relationship) is something we highly value, we are motivated differently what it is possibly at stake.
So we're willing to fight for it...after all, to be desired, loved and to love (whatever our idea of that may be) is amongst our deepest human needs. We are hard wired to protect these needs and to keep them alive. To lose them (or even the fear thereof) can feel like death, so it can literally trigger the intensity of fighting for one's life.
Depending on someone's relationship with their personal boundaries, they will identify when something crosses a line. This prompts them to either reinforce the standard, to dismiss or ignore it, or to allow it to be crossed.
The most difficult line to define can be when making a compromise for the relationship ends and where compromising oneself begins...
But to potentially oversimplify the issue, I've found the easiest way to distinguish the difference between the two is how one feels about it over the course of time. When a compromise is achieved, it takes a situation and supports a merging of a desirable outcome. While it may not be everything we wanted, we feel better with the decision and more settled than before. Typically when someone compromises themselves, it haunts them over time. That's usually a sign that something is left to be rectified.
So, if we find ourselves in such a space, simply inquiring can provide the insight you may need to shift:
"What has been compromised and what is asking to be rectified?"
Don't be afraid to ask how it can be settled too. We each have infinite wisdom and resources to tap into if we know how and remember to simply ask.
Intuitively we tend to already know the answers we seek, but if we don't pause to ask the questions, we may miss out on receiving the insight.
Remember to ask.
If this dynamic resonated with you, and you'd like to dedicate yourself to tapping into your intuition, especially in the space of your romantic life, I will be running two virtual trainings over the next few weeks that you are invited to join.
*Your Break Up Is a Blessing - How to handle a breakup so that you heal more than harm + how to use the signs of an impending breakup to know whether to mend the relationship or to let it go
*Couples' Conflict Resolution - How to masterfully navigate disagreement and conflict within personal relationships
If you'd like to participate in either one, or both, comment below or send me a message, and I'll send the details to you. If someone you know comes to mind and you'd like to share this with them, you're welcome to pass it along and invite them as well.
No more scraps. No more unconscious "se compromettre." Let's know how to be better together, how to compromise with integrity, and to create loving relationships that heal xx